The recent news that the US government has in principle ceded control of ICANN http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/27/ntia_icann_meeting/ is related to an issue that seems to get less coverage - that of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) and the interest behind that in a more multilingual internet. Language of course is one of the factors of the "digital divide" and it has been particularly problematic in the case of diverse scripts (and, although it is often overlooked in discussing writing systems and ICT, even Latin scripts with extra letters and diacritics beyond ASCII & ANSI). The Guardian has an interesting article exploring this issue in the context of internet governance at http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1830481,00.html (excerpts below).
I've tended to see IDN as a subset of the larger issues of content, but in a way, resloving the technical issues involved in multilingual domain names contributes not only to making the web more welcoming to more people and peoples, but also to facilitating the processing of more localized content in languages that are not yet well represented on the web. Sort of a wedge issue, in other words, for the multilingual internet. Hopefully the new developments with regard to ICANN will help in this process. Don Osborn Bisharat.net PanAfrican Localisation Project "Despite everything you may have heard, the global resource we all know as the internet is not global at all. Since you are reading this article in English you probably won't have noticed, but if your first language was Chinese, Arabic, Hindi or Tamil, you would know very different. At most websites you visit you will be scrabbling to find a link to a translated version in your language, seemingly hidden amid tracts of baffling text. Even getting to a website in the first place requires that you master the western alphabet - have you ever tried to type ".com" in Chinese letters? . . . Icann was first approached in the year it was created - 1998 - with the aim of introducing "internationalised domain names" into its system. But it has yet to introduce a single one. Many members of the global internet community have cried foul at the endless delays from a company based in the least linguistically diverse area of the world (the US has speakers of 170 different languages, compared to 364 in Europe and 2,390 in Africa)." The Guardian, 27 July 2006, "Divided by a Common Language" http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1830481,00.html _______________________________________________ DIGITALDIVIDE mailing list DIGITALDIVIDE@mailman.edc.org http://mailman.edc.org/mailman/listinfo/digitaldivide To unsubscribe, send a message to [EMAIL PROTECTED] with the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the body of the message.