The last of the Roman internet Empire

Starting Monday, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will begin testing for domain addresses in 11 languages using characters other than the current Roman only. Until now only the ASCII characters A through Z are available for use in top level labels - that's the part of the address after the dot.

In the testing phase, those trying to register a domain in Arabic, Persian, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese, Tamil, and both simplified and traditional Chinese, will be directed to a Wiki and required to use ".test" instead of say, ".com" or country abbreviations for example.

This will change the Internet as we know it.

It's about time that the English dominance was given a shake up. At the moment, according to the Internet World Statistics website, 47% of the Internet's users are in North America and Europe and 37% in Asia. The face of the Internet cannot be the same world-wide.



In fact, Google even though this power house gave into the Chinese governments censorship, is the number two search engine in China, the home-grown Baidu is. Sure Baidu had a strong leg up given the language issue. At the end of 2006, China had 132 million web surfers and is likely to become the world's biggest web market in a matter of months.

North American and European users are being subject to continual scrutiny and analysis of online habits, desires and behavior. Local leads at the moment. Given that these users don't speak or read, let alone have recognition for these characters on their computers, the balance of Internet power could well see a big shift.

It will be interesting to see (read) what the analysts will have to say about this. What will the next billion users of the Internet demand?

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