Domain Name Metastasis

I haven’t blogged in a while, but today is another inflection point along the expansion of the internet as we know it and it was certainly worth blogging about.

As many know, ICANN, short for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is in charge of managing top level domain names and corresponding root servers.  In short, all domain names, while individually managed by the respective ISP’s through delegation, are ultimately registered and referenced by one of ICANN’s root servers.

Today, Oct 30, 2009, ICANN voted for allowing non-latin characters.  This simply means domains, which now must have characters from A to Z and numbers from 0-9 and some basic symbols, can now have characters from any foreign language.  So pizza.com in theory can be πίτσα.com in greek, or 薄饼.com in chinese.

While this move is great for the world at large from a freedom perspective, allowing countries to interact and express themselves with native URL’s, one must question what impact will this have with regards to information availability.  Today, if it were not for translators, languages present a natural barrier to communication and information flow.  Internet names would logically have the same barrier as a latin based keyboard would have an extremely difficult time typing in Chinese or Greek based url — let alone the natural barrier itself.

How many languages are there in the world?  How many times would company now have to seek out and preregister in other languages to keep the trademark safe?  I see this as simply a metastasis of domain names in the making.

Is this really a good move?

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