Internationalisation of DNS continues

Like most original internet standards, the DNS was designed to initially suit the needs of any section of the world that could communicate using 7-bit ASCII and Latin character sets. Then the internet became really popular. Everywhere. The DNS had to evolve to cope with naming schemes that came from alphabets all over the world.

All successful internet protocols are elegant and simple by design. This makes it possible to retro-fit great ideas someone has one. Internationalisation was proposed in 1992, and it eventually became possible to register Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) in the .com space in 2003. Standards move slowly on the internet!

IDN is up for discussion again at the 31st ICANN meeting on Monday. This time, the world’s registry community are meeting in New Delhi, one of the most significant IT regions of the non-Latin world, to discuss the remaining “glitch” in the IDN system. An IDN might look like this: image.com. Therefore any user still needs to be able to type .com in order to reach the resource they request. There is a proposal at the ICANN meeting to add Internationalised top-level domains, actual complimentary TLDs to .com, that will mean that resources can be reached in any supported alphabet.

This is interesting stuff. One school of thought is that this could significantly assist the development of electronic enterprise in many more pockets of the world. The supremacy of Silicon Valley as the web’s main economy would then be broken. I think differently – I think that .com is now too established as the main ecommerce ‘brand’ TLD, and attempts to localise the meaning of .com will be fruitless. .com means “I trade online”. Despite .biz and similar TLDs being equal in technical terms, they are not equal in the eyes of shoppers or traders. .com now has specific global meaning, and can’t be diluted.

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