The web moves beyond the Latin alphabet

Recently the internet regulatory body ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) announced that Internationalised Domain Names will soon be supported, meaning that domains will be able to use local language characters rather than relying on the Latin alphabet.

As a response to the continuing growth of internet use in countries like Russia, India, China and throughout the Middle East this change is heralded as an opportunity to open the internet to people who have no familiarity with the Latin alphabet. There are many benefits in the countries that are affected by this change, and it is seen as particularly positive for older and less educated members of these societies.

From 16 November a process will begin allowing domain names to be proposed and registered in unique character sets.  The http:// prefix will still be a fixture of the new domains but most modern browsers work without this, allowing domains entirely composed of unique characters to be created.

With literally billions of people around the world who use languages that are not based on the Latin alphabet, it will be very interesting to see how this simple change influences the evolution of the internet and interaction on the web in the coming years.