When Rupert Murdoch (News Corp) married an
Oriental beauty, I said "Whoa Nelly, get ready to Study Abroad (no pun intended).
Seriously, as China opens its doors to capitalism the question arises, "Just How Global is the Internet, Really?"
Education Distance Online debates the issue of internationalized domain names (IDN) implementation.
TVisionary endorses the ability of the Internet to handle non-Roman characters, such as words in Chinese or Hindi for the purpose of Study Abroad
Education Distance Online.
The Internet is built on ASCII (American Standard Code of Information Interchange) characters. This means that only ASCII characters can be keyed in to the browser's address bar, and these are in turn converted into numerical IP addresses denoting the millions of destinations on the World Wide Web.
This works fine in the English world but, for non-English speakers, they have the task of rote-learning numerical IP addresses, or the English spellings of a gazillion Web sites they want to see.
Multilingual content has swelled in cyberspace in the past decade, the method of Web-address input still revolves mainly around English.
Is it easier to teach English to the growing number of non-English speaking Internet population around the world, or do we tweak the current Domain Name System (DNS) to accommodate the language nuances of these users?
The long road to multilingualism
has been under way since the mid-1990s, but the journey has been slower than a well digger's butt in Idaho on a Christmas morning.
Tan Tin Wee, a professor with the National University of Singapore who spearheaded the launch of Pacific Internet, an ISP, designed one of the world's first multilingual domain name systems in 1996.
Five years later, Internet governing body ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) formed an IDN Committee to examine the technicalities of multilingual domain name adoption. Despite initial patent squabbles, a set of standards was finally published in March 2003.
Years after its initial conceptualization, IDNs can now be registered with domain name registries like VeriSign and I-dns.net.
I-dns.net is promoting a format that allows the entire address string to be in native characters, a method that appears to meet the need for multilingualism more fully.
Both registries pledge compliance with IETF standards and have claimed early successes with their new IDN offerings, with strong uptake in Asian markets like China, Japan and South Korea. The two companies also require users to install plug-ins before they can key in native characters in the address bar.
The online population is expected to reach 1 billion next year; speeding up the implementation of IDNs could help fuel the next chapter of the Internet's growth and open up immense opportunities for areas like e-government and e-commerce. Research already indicates slowing Internet user growth in developed countries, but in contrast, the pool is set to expand in developing countries for at least 10 years to come.
Tech monsters like Microsoft are ramping up language-localization efforts to grow their customer bases beyond developed nations. Microsoft launched a low-cost flavor of Windows XP called Starter Edition for five developing countries, and its efforts to get more users online could be further helped by incorporating an IDN-compatible plug-in in its Internet Explorer browser. Chip makers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are considering low-cost computer blueprints for developing nations.
While foreign IT vendors are going local, top-level support for implementation and education on IDNs, however, seems lacking, as efforts have been sporadic to date.
China has reportedly put its full weight behind Chinese domain names. With the mainland's economic and political clout, it will be of little surprise that authorities and companies in other parts of the world could soon join in to make the global Internet more multilingual.
Whatsa tech bubble? Who cares...get ready
to study abroad!