Thursday, October 29, 2009

ICANN Set to Approve Web Addresses Using Non-Latin Characters by Caleb Johnson

Despite what some might say, it's not often that an opportunity comes along to change the lives of billions of people. But that's just what the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will do by changing the rules of Web addresses, shaking up the Internet like never before.

According to the Daily Mail, the ICANN board will pass a resolution this Friday that will allow entire Web addresses to be written in non-Latin alphabets. Those languages could be anything from Japanese to Arabic, or Hindi to Greek. The change means that many people around the world could more easily navigate the Web, and even create Web sites in their native tongue. Of the 1.6 billion people who use the Internet, about half are native speakers of languages that do not use the Latin alphabet. "This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago," said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea yesterday. If approved, the first non-Roman domain names should hit the Web sometime in mid-2010.

But why now? For years, the group has been testing a new translation system to convert multiple scripts into a single address, and it finally feels ready to put the system to use.

We don't want to count our chickens before they hatch, but this is big news, folks. It's akin to the introduction of a three-point line in basketball, or the forward pass in football. This resolution will totally change the game, so you might want to brush up your Arabic or Chinese.

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