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Old 31st October 2009, 02:42 AM
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BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8333209.stm

Web to be truly worldwide at last

The internet, we are told, has just gone truly global.
For the first time in its history, users will be allowed to create full web and e-mail-addresses using non-Latin characters.
The change has been announced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) at its board meeting taking place in Seoul, South Korea.
According to supporters of the change, it marks a huge technological shift in the way the web works with the potential to open up access to millions of new users.
Until now, anyone wanting to set up a website has been forced to include a few characters of Latin script in the address, or domain name, that they choose.
Born in the USA
Other scripts, Arabic or Japanese for example, can be used in the first part, but whatever language is used, the address must end with a small but very important collection of Latin alphabet characters, .com, .gov, .co.uk, .cn and so on.
Without those Latin letters on the end, the website simply will not work.
The reason for the system is simple - the internet was born in the United States.

Not only is it an issue of convenience, but it's an issue of what's right, the right to express their names in their own cultural language
Rod Beckstrom, Icann President
And the Latin-script suffixes used in web-addresses have now become so internationally familiar that some internet users question the need for change.
But imagine the situation in reverse.
What if every European or North American website was forced to include a few letters of Chinese in its domain name?
Wide world
Icann's President, Rod Beckstrom, believes the change will help remove an inbuilt cultural bias at the heart of the internet's infrastructure.
"It may not be that important to you and me because we grew up in Latin-based languages," he tells me.
"But for other people who grew up in China, India or Korea, or many other places using different scripts, not only is it an issue of convenience, but it's an issue of what's right, the right to express their names in their own cultural language."
Just down the road from where the Icann board is meeting here in central Seoul, I caught up with a group of Korean pensioners, learning how to use the internet at an adult education centre.
Sixty-four-year-old Park Seung-Ja is struggling.
"It's so inconvenient and cumbersome having to keep switching to the western keyboard," she tells me.
"I'm having to go back decades to remember the English I learnt at school."
There are already some workarounds in countries like Korea with high internet use.
Language ghetto?
Using search engines in the local script allows users to find web-addresses without typing the name, and there are programs that allow users to enter addresses in their own language.

The technology is recognisable around the world, but not all the words
But it does not work on all computers, or for all websites, and many people believe there is an important principle at stake.
Lee Dong-bum, chief executive of a small Korean consulting firm, says he thinks he might be losing some customers who are unable to find him online.
"My customers should be able to find my company in their own language," he says.
"This is the only fair way for access to the internet to be arranged."
The change to multiple-language scripts though has not been without its critics.
There are those who worry that it might lead to a kind of ghettoisation of the internet, with language communities operating entirely within their own languages cut off from the rest of the web.
There are worries too that it will make the protection of intellectual property rights that much harder.
But the first step along the road will be a relatively small one.
At first, the change will only apply to the lesser-used group of domains known as the country codes.
These are the Web addresses with endings like .uk, .cn, or .kr, for the United Kingdom, China, and South Korea for example, and their assignment is guided by government rules in each country.
Icann says it will begin accepting the first applications for these addresses, in a number of different scripts other than Latin, from 16 November.
Eventually, all domain names should be available in multi-languages.
When that happens, supporters say, the world wide web, will finally live up to its name.
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Old 31st October 2009, 07:40 AM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8334233.stm

Being able to write in your own language is one thing, but it's also important to be able to have e-mail or website addresses that use it. Unfortunately the design of DNS meant that key aspects would not work with anything other than ASCII, making it impossible to simply add in Chinese or Arabic characters to domain.
Chinese women on net, BBC
China already has the biggest net using population

Work has been going on since the mid 90's to change this and provide what are called "internationalized domain names", and many organisations are now able to have websites and email addresses that include Chinese, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic and many other alphabets.

The process took a significant step forward this week when Icann, the international body that looks after domain names, fast-tracked a proposal to provide internationalised versions of two letter country domains, such as .uk and .jp.

This will finally allow users of these domains to have a domain name that is entirely in characters based on their native language, and marks an important point in the internationalisation of the whole internet.

It has taken a long time to make this happen, but the problems of re-engineering such a key part of the network infrastructure without breaking anything are enormous, and anyone who reads through the technical documentation will see just how complex the process has been.

And it was definitely necessary to do it properly - the fuss over the recent retuning of Freeview boxes in the UK was bad enough, but trying to persuade a billion internet users to update their software to support a new form of DNS would have been impossible.

Over the next five years the majority of new internet users will come from the non English-speaking world. It's good to see that those of us who have helped build the network so far are making it more welcoming for them.

Bill Thompson is an independent journalist and regular commentator on the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet.
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Old 31st October 2009, 10:07 AM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

"It has taken a long time to make this happen, but the problems of re-engineering such a key part of the network infrastructure without breaking anything are enormous, and anyone who reads through the technical documentation will see just how complex the process has been."

So what exactly have they re-engineered?


"Bill Thompson is an independent journalist and regular commentator on the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet."

....and clueless!
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:59 AM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

There is a BBC "Have Your Say" for people to comment on Internationalized Web Addresses.

A lot of the comments indicate complete misunderstanding of the issues.

I posted a comment but it appears to have been rejected. I guess because I had some Chinese in my post.

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Old 31st October 2009, 12:11 PM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

Quote:
Originally Posted by andre View Post
There is a BBC "Have Your Say" for people to comment on Internationalized Web Addresses.

A lot of the comments indicate complete misunderstanding of the issues.

I posted a comment but it appears to have been rejected. I guess because I had some Chinese in my post.

André 小山 Schappo
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Just be glad there was no Arabic ... you'd be unable to post anything due to waterboarding
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Old 31st October 2009, 06:03 PM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

There was a good 5 minute spot on the BBC news (TV) yesterday afternoon. It was well done.
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Old 31st October 2009, 08:12 PM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

Quote:
Originally Posted by phio View Post
There was a good 5 minute spot on the BBC news (TV) yesterday afternoon. It was well done.
Any links to this or a summary?
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Old 31st October 2009, 10:18 PM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

It is extremely reassuring to see that the public following the Beeb,
will be essentially clueless as the Yank, Aussies, Canadians, and Kiwis chattering classes.

Chinese is now 40% content on the web....
Once Hindi/Arabic user % hits above 30%......then that should be close to pushing non Latin content to below 50% ....

that tipping point is the globalization 2.0 tipping point IMHO.


the operating assumption is that something of value is going away...that they wont be able to see or read items...etc....

the whole concept that 2 billion people around the world are now going to be able to conduct commerce and read news in their own language ...
mainly on their mobiles....is completely lost....on the journalists....then
straight to the average Joe...


gutenberg....then telegraph....photography....then cinema then phonograph...then radio...then TV....then cassette tape...then CD then DVD then Internet....then mobile content....


Exponential change is emotionally disruptive along with economic disruption...


Just read that Sri Lanka, is now stealing outsourcing from India...now that the violence is down....

welcome to the club .....
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:51 PM
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Re: BBC article: Web to be truly worldwide at last

BBC Persian edition on IDN's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CvLXHrU_xA

Russian TV Channels on IDN's:

http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/179026/
Revolution online: http://www.vesti.ru/videos?vid=247838

Last edited by 555; 1st November 2009 at 12:11 AM..
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