View Full Version : ICANN Approves Domain Names We Can't Type

Saturday, October 31st, 2009, 04:13 AM
This is a bad day for the English language, after ICANN approved non-Latin characters for use in Internet domain names. Having invented the Internet--40 years ago yesterday--the U.S. has given away whatever advantage it offers English-speakers.

This was bound to happen after the U.S. recently recanted on its "ownership" of the Internet in a new agreement with ICANN, the Internet's primary governing body. At one level, I am happy that Internet users around the world will soon have domain names in their own character sets.

"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said in a statement.

"Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters--A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."

The first phase of the Internationalized Domain Names program begins Nov. 16 when countries can apply to ICANN for country codes, such as .us for the United States and .ru for Russia, in their own character sets.

Over time, expect to see other domains, such as .com, .org, and .net, become available in other character sets, as well as domain names themselves.

"This is a culmination of years of work, tests, study and discussion by the ICANN community," Thrush said. "To see this finally start to unfold is to see the beginning of an historic change in the Internet and who uses it."

Is this a change for the better?

Perhaps, but is there any doubt that if another country had "invented" the Internet--say the Russians--that we'd all have had to learn to type Cyrillic characters by now? Moreover, do you think they or the Chinese or Japanese would have changed the Internet just to suit English-speakers.

Indeed, had the Internet been developed around a non-Latin character set, would it even exist today? Has the success of the Internet not been linked to the role of English as the global language of business and popular culture?

On another level, I also am concerned about all the potential for duplicated domains that will be created as non-Latin characters roll out across the Internet. How many new domains will be needed to protect international brands?

Will cybercriminals some how be able to take advantage of this change? Will there be hidden domains that cannot be displayed on some computers or typed on many keyboards?

Practically, I am not looking forward to perhaps someday having to learn how to type potentially 100,000 non-Latin characters that ICANN has embraced. Is there an easy way to do this? How many keys will keyboards need to have?

I am guessing this is a problem Google will help solve, but still have concerns.

It also worries me that the Internet, which once brought people together, may start to fracture along character-set lines.

Like I said, this is a bad day for the English language, but a good day for the billions of people who do not speak my mother tongue. They have rights, too, even if I am not always happy about what that means.

Source (http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/181094/icann_approves_domain_names_we_cant_type .html)

The title is actually incorrect. We can type non-Latin characters, it's just extra effort to type , or if you are using a keyboard made for English speakers. And even though domain names have had to be in Latin characters, all other text could be in anything else - Arabic, Hindu, Mandarin etc... If the domain name is in Cyrillic, chances are the text will be also & only persons who can read it would need/want to go to that domain.

Hauke Haien
Saturday, October 31st, 2009, 04:30 AM
The US can always recreate ARPANET and sever all communications with the outside world. To be precise, that is already the case with Internet2, but it is not open to the average underling filing complaints on PC news sites.

Saturday, October 31st, 2009, 09:23 PM
I really don't understand what the person who wrote the article is so upset about. :shrug 'It also worries me that the Internet, which once brought people together, may start to fracture along character-set lines.' :lol perhaps he fears the next world war will be caused by ultranationalists of the Cryllic script party declaring war on 'inferior' users of umlauts, or sth :oanieyes

From my point of view, it's a mixed blessing that English was the Lingua Franca at the time of the internet revolution. It makes it easier to read things (but if it had been another language, we would have been taught it anyway), but it means we don't have our 'own' language to revert to or set us apart, either. The abililty to make "'their' own" webpages which "only 'they'" can access (to borrow from the author's paranoia) is another advantage to non-english nationalists.

Saturday, October 31st, 2009, 09:34 PM
The letter W is ironically not part of the original latin alphabet, just like . The use of ,, in URLs I'm not certain of, they are rarely (never?) used in Sweden for URLs, instead we use A and O in their place.

I think in this article , , along with W are all considered to be part of the Latin alphabet, from which they originated. This means that the article-writer actually means the English alphabet and not the Latin.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009, 08:13 AM
The non-english characters domains will probably only be in use for local or governement sites. Commercial sites are usually looking for international customers, so they have to be in English, which is the default international language otherwise they would have visitors only from their home country. I don't think anyone with a website would like to stay in such an internet ghetto.

Just like when a Russian meets a Japanese, or a Chinese meets an Indonesian, or even when a Frenchman meets a German, they usually communicate in English.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009, 03:04 PM
The original author of that article is freaking out for no reason.

First of all, chances are that if a URL is using a (for example) Chinese character set, then the page that it directs you to will be using a Chinese character set. If your computer (or your brain) isn't equipped to handle that, then you really won't be feeling any loss at not being able to type in the URL.

Second of all, manual URL entry is becoming much less common, because of search engines. More and more people are getting even to well-known urls, like facebook, by typing "facebook" into Google and clicking the first result, instead of typing "facebook.com" into the address bar.

This is the same kind of hysteria that people are having over the opening up of a large number of privately-own top-level domains. Initially, they kept the number of top-level domains small (.com, .gov, .net, .edy, and so on) because they had to: limitations on hardward and the method the net used to "look up" addresses. Now, that has all changed.... addresses could literally be completely arbitrary, and the system would be able to handle it.

But still, it freaks people out.

Don't worry, you'll still be able to find everything you want to find. The things you won't be able to find, will generally not be what you're looking for anyway. It's not a big deal.

Monday, November 2nd, 2009, 03:32 PM
This is excellent. People should use their own language. I hate having to translate words in swedish into latin characters.