New York City, NY December 10, 2016
Opening the Internet: Looking Beyond English Dominance
The global internet audience has been steadily changing over time. The structure of the internet itself, however, has been slower to catch up. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which utilize non-Latin alphabets and diacritic marks, were proposed in the mid-90s, but not realized until 2010. Even now, not all services play nicely with them. In a country and a world where internet can serve as a lifeline to learning tools, as well as opportunity, access must go beyond simply connecting to the internet.
While changes are coming, there is still widespread inconsistency in how user-friendly to non-English speakers some of the country’s, and sometimes the world’s, most popular sites and services are. I see top trending hashtags worldwide on Twitter in Arabic, but usernames must be in Latin characters. There’s a disconnect between the creators of services and spaces and today's current--and--potential audience. I'd like to address this from a personal perspective (Do you really need that accent on your name?) to a wider one, as well as point out some of these inconsistencies, and talk possible solutions.