Naming a web site used to be easy. You thought of the name you wanted, you registered the name, you put up your site.
Then came the speculators. Search for your domain name of choice today, or your second choice, or third, or tenth, and you’re likely to discover that the name has already been registered by someone who has no intention of ever using the domain to establish a web site. Rather, they hope to sell you the name for a vastly inflated price and turn a profit in doing so. Because domain names are based on language, and there are a finite number of words in any language, the speculators know that if they buy up the most common words and phrases, someone will inevitably come knocking….
In the parlance of business, this is called ‘making a market’ for a commodity — in this case, domain names. Other well known examples of this entrepreneurial spirit include Enron’s electric power market, oil topping $140 a barrel and driving gas prices past $4.00 at the pump, and those sexy real-estate-backed derivatives that were based on inflated mortgage values, leading to the housing crisis and the worst American recession in seventy years. (Your free markets in action.)
Necessity being the mother of invention, then, the story of the Ditchwalk name begins with a great deal of swearing, after which came a period of resolve, followed by mounting frustration and, ultimately, a long brooding period of introspection, during which my thoughts drifted to childhood and growing up in Iowa in the 60’s and 70’s…
I wasn’t a farm kid, but I had a couple of friends who lived on farms, and my visits to their homes left deep impressions on my young mind. Many times we would head out for the day on long walks, exploring fieldscapes or kicking gravel down the dusty county roads that crisscross the state like a grid. Time and again, however, despite the natural wonders around me, or the thrill of seeing a John Deere tractor muscling dirt, I found myself drawn to the ditches that separated the fields and crops from the roads which took those crops to market.
Designed to protect both field and road by controlling and diverting excess rainfall, these man-made ditches were nevertheless among the most wild and alive places we visited. Fed regularly by water, the ditches teemed with wildflowers and weeds, including great towering stands of impenetrable cattails. Where water pooled and stagnated the toads and frogs took hold, repeating incessant, other-worldly sounds out of all proportion to their size. Butterflies and dragonflies flitted among the plants, and on the barbed-wire fences bordering the fields regularly-spaced red-winged blackbirds stood guard, challenging us each in turn as we passed through their militantly-guarded territory.
I loved those ditches. Engineered by man to serve commerce, they were as wild as a place could be. And despite all attempts to tame them they remained full of wonders and full of life.
Like the internet.
— Mark Barrett