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.