News, views and what I choose to dos




The future of the Internet is here: non-English extensions hit the Web

Category : Domain names, ICANN, Internet, Internet governance · by May 5th, 2010

It’s taken far longer than it should but we are finally there – new, non-English extensions exist on the Internet as of a few hours ago.

The person who hit the button – my friend, Kim Davies – tweeted the news. Kim has already written a quick blog post on the launch, highlighting the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and IT, which is at the end of one of three top-level domains that have gone live.

It is hard to describe the importance of this step. It has been years, literally years, of conversation and discussion and engineering to get to this point. And that point is: the Internet’s core infrastructure can now deal with non-ASCII language. Which means that the Arabic-speaking world, the Chinese-speaking world, the Hindi-speaking world, in fact the majority of people on the planet can finally use the Internet natively without this strange American structure that makes you puts, for example, “.com” at the end of every domain.

This finally makes the global Internet a global Internet. In terms of Internet governance it should also allow (fingers crossed) the single, global, interoperable Internet to hold together. The pressure valve has been pressed down. And it will continue to be repeatedly pressed down for the next few months as more “internationalized domain names” (IDNs) are approved and go live.

There are, of course, all sorts of catch-ups needed. Software needs to work properly with these IDNs. People have to get their head around this works. But this is all minor tweeks. The global Net is here. A great day.

Update: Google has just announced a new “virtual keyboard” which should help answer one question that lots of people have been asking re: IDNs, namely: how can I type in different-language domains when I only have a single-language keyboard?

Second update: Firefox is one of the pieces of software that needs to get with the program. The open-sourcers behind Firefox continue to use a “paypal” example to explain their pretty poor efforts with IDNs so far. But now that IDNs are being officially added to the root, it’s time for Mozilla to wake up and smell the coffee or risk losing billions of potential users of their browser. (The Internet extensions that Firefox allows).

SHARE :

(7) comments

Phio
4 years ago ·

Beautifully written piece. This is indeed AMAZING news. Congrats on everyone’s efforts to make the internationalized internet a reality!
Thanks, Kim, Kieren, Tina, and all those who have worked hard promoting and technically improving the internet.

Jacob
4 years ago ·

Very exciting news. The browsers on the Android platform don’t seem to support this just yet (well, at least the default browser and dolphin browser on my Nexus One).

mpt
4 years ago ·

It looks rather silly of you to describe Firefox’s efforts as “pretty poor” without explaining why you disagree with the rationale Mozilla has provided on the very page you linked to.

[...] The future of the Internet is here: non-English extensions hit the Web The future of the Internet is here: non-English extensions hit the Web – only took 30-odd years, too #web #tld [...]

kierenmccarthy
4 years ago ·

@mpt: Well, yes and no. I was keeping the blog short so maybe I shouldn’t have been quickly critical without more explanation. On the other hand, the link is there to Mozilla’s own page.

[...] The future of the Internet is here: non-English extensions hit the Web Kim has already written a quick blog post on the launch, highlighting the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and IT, which is at the end of one of three top-level domains that have gone live. [...]

Zaid Ali
4 years ago ·

@mpt: Firefox has to get on with the program to address an issue of trust. If you visit http://?????-?????????.???/ Firefox shows punycode

http://xn--4gbrim.xn—-rmckbbajlc6dj7bxne2c.xn--wgbh1c/ar/default.aspx

Now if I understood Arabic only and was traveling or happen to use Firefox which showed punycode how would I trust it? If it was directly translated to latin characters I could trust it with verification from someone I know who understands English. I would not trust puny code because an end user does not know what it means. Firefox has to work well with IDN’s if it want’s to be a popular international browser.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>