[Air-L] Will the default culture of Internet shift from ASCII to Unicode?

han-teng.liao@oii han-teng.liao at oii.ox.ac.uk
Sat Oct 31 03:54:21 PDT 2009

Dear all,

    As continuing effort to revive the earlier discussion thread with 
the title "Information wants to be ASCII or Unicode?", allow me to point 
out the current news event on a further step towards internationalized 
domain names, as summarised by boingboing blogger Xeni Jardin on Rachel 
Maddow Show as below:


    "[D]omain name extensions will be available in non-Latin character 
sets. Chinese, Greek, Arabic, or any one of the more than 20 official 
languages in India. In other words, the alphabet you're reading this 
blog post in will no longer be the default for web addresses."

   Not long ago, PHP a popular open-source computer scripting language 
that powers many websites also announced their latest version with the 
feature of "internationalization capabilities via Unicode support"


   Still, whether the open-source developers will write computer codes 
that are "unicode safe" remains a challenge, as the PHP creator has been 
quoted saying:

"... unicode is a big problem we need to solve. Developers want to work 
on cool, sexy code tho - features people will notice, they don't want ot 
make extensions unicode safe..."

   Will the default culture of Internet shift from ASCII to Unicode?

   What is the implications for the future of Internet?  The beginning 
of the end of Anglo-Latin order?  The beginning of the end of commonly 
shared English-based Internet-specific languages?  When we reintroduce 
languages back, have we also reintroduced more state power back? 

    I particularly found the question raised by Rebecca MacKinnon 
<http://rconversation.blogs.com/> interesting:

"What if a human rights group in Canada wants to register a domain name 
in Chinese or Arabic, in the native-alphabet country extensions for 
China or Saudi Arabia," she said, "Can the countries involved deny that 
request? Those are the sort of challenges to free speech that lie 
ahead."  (quoted by Xeni Jardin 


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