Scotland is to be congratulated on the award of a new top level Internet domain, .scot, to promote and serve the needs of the world-wide Scottish community - estimated as 50 million strong by the supporters of this domain.
This is one of the very few 'second wave' applications for a top level domain to be focussed entirely on supporting a particular ethnic worldwide community. The first wave was uniquely .cat, awarded by ICANN to the worldwide Catalan community back in September 2005. Scots nationalists - and other supporters of Scottish culture - have been waiting a long time - almost nine years - to gain their own top level domain.
The Galicians and Basques of northern Spain - and their very large diasporas - are also in the front of a very long ICANN queue, with their bids for .gal and .eus respectively. I note that the mastermind behind the winning of the trailblazing .cat domain, the Barcelona-based lawyer Amadeu Abril i Abril, is listed as the Chief Policy Advisor to the winning Scottish bid. He has also been a valued consultant to the successful Basque and Galician bids.
The Welsh are also part of this 'second wave', but interestingly not on behalf of the Welsh worldwide community but simply for Wales itself. The formal application for '.cymru' puts its major emphasis on business opportunities for citizens and businesses in Wales rather than promoting the Welsh language or culture. Indeed .cymru is not self-described as a community-based domain at all, unlike the .scot, .gal and .eus domains. It is perhaps significant that the application for .cymru was been put forward by the Oxfordshire-based Internet registry Nominet and not directly by a Welsh nationalist or cultural body.
The .cat domain is considered a great success in providing visibility and prestige for the Catalan language, Catalan culture and the activities of the Catalan diaspora. It has a particular focus on use of the Catalan language - estimated to be spoken by 10 million worldwide. In its six years of operation, the .cat registry has registered more than 60,000 domain names under .cat - supporting 60,000 websites and many millions of webpages. All of Catalonia's universities, for example - and its football clubs - have websites using a .cat suffix in their URLs. So do their more than 100 community centres found across the world.
The .scot domain should provide Scottish culture - and particularly the cultures and languages of Scotland's island communities - with much greater visibility on the Internet and hence in the world's media and in the global economy.
Nine years has been a long time for the Scots, the Welsh, the Basques and the Galicians to wait to gain the prestige of a top level domain. 2014 is the pivotal year when this has finally happened, and I wish all these communities great success in using it to their best advantage.
Dr Peter Gerrand is an Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) at the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, Australia.