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Old 9th November 2009, 11:45 PM
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ICANN Welcomes the World

Last week the catchily-named organization ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) announced that it had approved the use of Hindi, Mandarin, Hebrew, Korean, and twelve other languages -- that are not based on the Roman/Latin alphabet -- for use in domain names. It may not seem like much to most people in the USA or Europe, but in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa this news was was momentous.

Consider that you have been told about a source of near unlimited business, entertainment, and information, but to get access to it you have to read Korean... That is how the internet has appeared to the bulk of its users. Typing in domain names in characters you don't understand is a total roadblock for many. With this change the floodgates will likely open, bringing literally millions more users online -- those who have never used Roman characters in their daily lives.

Such an announcement will have implications for the world of web content management and e-commerce for sure. it will likely drive demand for technology to manage the increase in web content and the ever greater lingual fragmentation of that content. Something that will excite vendors for sure. For developers, business users, and implementers (the constituency of CMS Watch) the initial impact may be simply testing that your applications still work with non-Latin characters. Don't assume they do, as though most browsers can support all kinds of character sets, software applications are typically much more limited.

There are so many potential implications to this announcement. Implications that we can currently only guess at, with repercussions that may resonate over the next decade or so. In English-speaking regions we may not even see or even hear of much change, but the rest of the world (most of the world) will be busy building their own web, drawing in billions of new users, and spawning a new set of web teams (many of which will likely be bigger than ours). All of which could nonetheless remain quite invisible to us.
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