(try number 2, stopped at the gates by a spam guard!)
(note, I wrote a comment once yesterday and deleted– I kept feeling I might be mansplaining or speaking too much from a geographic perspective, then wrote it later but decided to think before submitting– and now i see Audrey Watters has taken on the question of ownership elegantly).
I don’t see ownership of domain as physical property, it is not a physical entity. Owning land is a human constructed idea; most ancient cultures had no need to own land, though empire lines were ones fought for. I’m not expert in how it works in different countries, but even in the US it varies state by state whether you own the water and mineral rights below the surface. You cannot pick up your land and take it with you.
It’s not about a domain as a thing, but as a representation of us that we can control and manage rather than leaving it to another party. It’s not the physical space ownership, its about a place to expand, express your ideas. Think how much we struggled with the idea of owning ideas.
Your domain cannot function / operate without the infrastructure of the internet, it has not operational mode on its own.
By choosing to pay for my domain, rather than it being given outright to me, I am making a stake, I am saying it is important enough for me to pay for it. You may call it rent, I may just call it a lifetime payment plan 😉
Maybe, when you pay for a domain, you are not buying it to own, you are paying a fee to have it available in all of the DNS servers around the world as an address.
A DoOO program is not about just handing over a deed to students, it’s giving them a chance to develop that presence, and then to make a choice of deciding it’s value.
It’s a worthy exercise to wrestle with and I have trouble trying to fit the idea of physical ownership of a domain. Still thinking tho…