Friday, June 10, 2005

Welcome to Tokelau


So it turns out that Tokelau, a 17 sq. km. Pacific island nation under the sovereignty of New Zealand, will sell you a .tk domain name for $25, no matter who you are, in exchange for which you help to raise the per-capita income of the Tokelauans above the current level of USD $420. In fact, Tokelau will only charge you if your proposed domain is already taken under the umbrellas of .com, .org, .net, what have you, and is thus a hot commodity. Otherwise, mi casa su Tokelau. The country has no international debt, without Tony Blair ever once, I feel sure, breaking a sweat over it.

But before all those sugarplum visions of nike.tk, microsoft.tk, paris-hilton.tk, and ebay.tk start tickling your fancy... just what the hell is going on?

If you fly out to New Zealand, and fly or sail from there to American Samoa, and then catch the twice-monthly boat from there to Tokelau, you can meet the other 1500 residents of the country into which you have cybernaturalized yourself. If you're Catholic—if you are, say, the new Demon Pope—you'll prefer the atoll of Nukunonu, where everyone's Catholic, to those of Atafu (Congregationalist) or Fakaofo (mixed). And here I thought Fakaofo was Pig Latin for something really rude.

Fakaofo also has free high-speed internet connections for all residents, and in that way, it resembles an Ivy League university, except it is prettier, and the food sounds much better. This means you will be able to check your own .tk website while you are in Fakaofo, and it perhaps explains why Tokelau has more of a Web presence than you might think, including this poem. Andrew Marvell is not fearing for his legacy just yet, but she's sure got her market cornered. (Thanks, Jane, for the flag image.)

Oh, and yes, despite all of that taxing travel time and distance, even with 150-year-old craft and navigation, an American did still manage to work his way out to Tokelau and set up a slave plantation in 1856. Anyone not vomiting? Is everyone ill? Is anyone okay?

Class is now over, but here is the extra-credit question? -

So, the fact that Tokelau is farming out its own domain names at $25/pop, and it's clearly generating enough publicity that I learned about this whole phenom by fortuitously landing on a .tk page... is this a new low-point in the forced self-abjection of developing and undeveloped nations, a new peak in paternalistic cultural tourism, or a clever Tokelauan gesture of working with what they've got? Jury is out.

The things you learn.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Buffange said...

On the Pacific theme...

I thought i'd reveal myself as a lurker in order to share a distinctly creepy tourist site I snuck across during today's procrastination-masquerading-as-dissertation-research session...

The Bikinians have recently opened their atoll -- site of 20-odd atomic bomb tests in the 40s and 50s -- to tourism (they offer great scuba-diving apparently). They're still waiting on the compensation the us owes them (and without which the atoll can't be made permanently habitable -- the Bikinians all live elsewhere, on other pacific atolls and so on), so tourism is how they've chosen to develop (check out their website at www.bikiniatoll.com).

That's not the creepy part. Among its entries for Bikini, Google includes "The Bureau of Atomic Tourism," (www.atomictourist.com) the epigraph for which is a strange rave about the “unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous, and terrifying” lighting effects of a nuclear explosion. There’s no sunrise, apparently, like the rip of a hydrogen bomb through the sky. This sits oddly with the link to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum... Tell me I'm not the only one who finds the concept of atomic tourism sort of sick-making?

Sending good thoughts for the last stretch of diss-writing...

xo Nadine

11:25 PM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Nadine!

I would have thought "atomic tourism" would have been confined strictly to the fiction of Philip K. Dick, or maybe a Charlie Kaufman screenplay. That is un. real.

Reminds me of when three friends of mine in college whipped up a Spring Break trip through a travel agent whom they had specifically instructed to avoid any spots where the tourism industry only benefits off-site corporations and further immiserates the locals.

In a literal, extremely narrow way, the travel agent obeyed this request. Either she didn't know or else just didn't tell my friends that the reason Vieques had no problem with hyper-corporatiezd tourism was that it was still a major bomb-test site for the US military. You can imagine that vacation. Didn't seem to bother this guy, though.

And hey, thanks for reading my mad scribbles!

11:42 PM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Awesome! Nadine!

8:36 AM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger Buffange said...

hee... i worry about the vieques guy's sunburn, though. honestly.

dr. s! let me know what you think of never let me go.

11:51 AM, June 11, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I did in fact buy Ishiguro's book (as you know if you've been lurking comprehensively), but I'm really trying to finish the Trollope before I start anything else.

BTW, Mr. and Mrs. Smith features some high-quality ass-kicking, in case anyone's interested.

6:35 PM, June 11, 2005  
Anonymous Tim R said...

Surely you mean the kicking of high quality asses?

It's Tim here, Nick, another regular lurker - mainly 'cos your blog is fast becoming my chief source of random global news. Reuters, schmeuters.

Keep sticking it to Empire and Tony Blair - they're twits!

x

7:10 PM, June 12, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Tim!! All my favorite people coming out of the woodwork. Can't wait to chat more: you know the drill, 8 more days, etc....

If you're into the political postings, I'm hoping you'll take a shine to what's coming after midnight. (It had to be timed for Monday release. But I been working on it.)

10:47 PM, June 12, 2005  

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