At some point tomorrow one of my email addresses will stop working, and at the start of 2022 the domain it uses will be offered for sale to any EU citizen who would like it.
This will happen because I’m no longer entitled to hold a .eu domain, and so billt.eu, which has been mine since April 2005, will be taken away from me as consequence of the UK leaving the EU.
I registered it as a vanity domain, and as a concrete expression of my European identity, and I used it mostly to register for non-critical services or email lists. I never bothered putting a website up, just redirected it to whichever blog I was using at the time. It just gave me a warm feeling, like the Euros in my wallet, the gold embossed EUROPEAN UNION on my passport, and the way being in Venice felt just like being in London.
But these symbols have all been undone by political reality, and the debate is over. It is no longer a matter of public policy or political controversy: the UK has left the EU; I am no longer an EU citizen; and the transitional arrangements which allowed me to retain the domain come to an end tonight.
I’ve been reading a lot recently about how we have adapted to the various types of lockdown or other restrictions that we have faced around the world as we respond to SARS-COV-2 and the Covid-19 pandemic in our various ways.
Of course the adaptations have been greatly influenced by personal circumstances, regional and national responses and the wider geopolitical situation. My life here in Stonesdale in North Yorkshire among a farming community is very different to that of someone in Delhi or Sao Paolo or Melbourne, or even London. It’s something we’ve tried hard to respect each week on Digital Planet, where our experience as a production team is shaped by local circumstances so can’t be generalised. When we talk lockdown we do so in our context, and acknowledge the different ways other people’s lives have been changed.
But just as the internet has changed the lives of everybody on the planet. even if they have never used a computer or phone or sent an email, so Covid-19 has changed something for everyone. The systems that surround us have had to adapt. There are fewer travellers, more checks and restrictions, increased constraints on many sorts of interaction, and a changed set of assumptions about what is safe or risky or must be endured. This is as true for someone in Kibera, Nairobi as it is in Silicon Valley, California or here in Stonesdale, North Yorkshire.