A Dose of Vitamins I, D, and N

I’ll be quite honest with you – this post took some courage to write. It’s a topic that is hotly contested as of recent. Peruse a domain forum where somebody mentions the acronym ‘IDN’ and you are sure to find people choosing sides. Some of the discussions get ugly quick. I am not sure why, though. I do know that for all of the opposition to IDNs nobody has yet to convince me why I shouldn’t have purchased more than 3,000 of these darn domain names.

For those still in the dark, IDN refers to Internationalized Domain Name. You can get yourself up to speed on what IDNs are through Wikipedia’s page here. For the well versed – well, let’s get ready to roll…

Before we go any further into the discussion let us clear up a few quick pieces of fiction. First, IDNs ARE .com’s, .net’s, and .org’s. They may even be .jp, .kr, or .de, for example. So can we please stop with the “I’ll put my money into .com’s while you put yours into IDNs” nonsense; when what you really should be arguing is that you’ll continue to invest in the English language while I invest in global languages. Fair enough. Next piece of fiction; China.com is not an IDN. Oh, and Japan.jp is not an IDN either. I guess this leaves us with a puzzle to solve: just what exactly is an IDN?

I don’t want to venture into “tech speak”, there are some great people in the domain industry who can do just that if you want it – some of them hang out here. In order to fully understand how IDNs work, from a technical perspective, you should perform your own due diligence. Rather, I wanted to use this opportunity to demonstrate the use of an IDN and hopefully this may convince some of you naysayers that IDNs do indeed have a plausible existence. So here we go…

Imagine a couple living in Tokyo. They are middle-class, both university educated, they own an apartment, have careers, and 2.3 kids – you get the picture. And, just like their teenage kids, they like to spend a few hours everyday on the Internet. In fact, their kids use the Internet to communicate with one of their English instructors for one hour per week in order to practice their conversational English. It’s a global economy, English is important after all. But at the end of the day they watch Japanese TV, read Japanese books, surf on Yahoo Japan, listen to Japanese music, and talk to their friends and family in Japanese. You see, even though they are learning English they are not surrounded by English, like your or I. They’ll use the English language in their lifetime but it won’t be a part of who they are or how they live – if you know what I mean.

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