What IDNs Mean to DotAsia: A Conversation with Edmon Chung of DotAsia

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Edmon Chung, CEO of DotAsia, and his staff have been working at developing community around the new .Asia TLD. With the .Asia community encompassing a varied collection of countries and cultures, I felt Edmon's insight towards IDNs would prove to be a valuable discussion. It should also be noted that today is the first day of DotAsia''s Land Rush program. What follows is my discussion with Edmon.

What does having IDNs mean to you?
Being a pioneer of IDN technologies and having been promoting its adoption since before the turn of the millennium, having IDN means a lot. It means the end of a long struggle and the beginning of a truly global Internet. Direct navigation is still the most consistent method for surfing the web. IDN makes the Internet accessible and associable for the rest of the world. Domain names today are no longer simply a command line on the technical infrastructure of the Internet, but also part of the social and identity fabric of the online world. Having IDN become a natural part of the Internet is a vision me and many of my colleagues who have worked very hard on the issue over the years have.

Will IDNs have an impact in your area?
Yes. Asia is probably the region that will benefit the most from the full deployment of IDN. Many languages in Asia are not expressed in the Latin script (i.e. ASCII), IDN will allow for a native experience on the Internet. Imagine perhaps that the Russians invented the Internet and we all have to learn Cyrillic to navigate to different websites, how inconvenient it would be. That is the reality for the majority of the online population today.

What impact will it have in your area?
I believe that it will open a new era of Internet usage in Asia. IDN will be a platform that will bring corporations, shops and local stores online. For the first time, these operations will find its own voice and identity online. The Internet is as much about global communications as facilitation of local communities. IDN will allow Asia''s local communities to further flourish in cyberspace and to find linkage around the world through Asians overseas.

How might IDNs help your geographic region?
As mentioned, Asia will probably be the region that will benefit the most from IDN. From the Arabic west Asia, the Sino east Asia to the Indic South Asia and other South East Asia languages, IDN would help different language communities find their voice on the Internet. IDN is not content, but neither is it simply a command line. IDN provides a platform for development of the Internet in Asia.

How might IDNs hinder your geographic region?
Development on the Internet will be hindered without the full deployment of IDN.

How might IDNs help businesses in your geographic region?
IDN will give businesses, especially local and small and medium sized enterprises the opportunity to represent themselves the way they are known to their customers. The value of a name and brand is clear to understand. Being able to reflect that online means facilitation of business.

How might IDNs affect the people in your geographic region?
IDN will allow for a native experience for navigating the Internet.

Which group will benefit most from IDNs in your area and why?
Ultimately, end users will benefit the most from IDN.

Do you foresee any challenges with which applications will be able to support IDNs?
As we have seen through the nearing ten years of work on IDN, there will be many challenges as applications deploy IDNs. Phishing issues, policy issues, languages issues and forward and backward compatibility issues are just a collection of a few of them. Nevertheless, I do not believe any of these should be prohibitive for the full deployment of IDN. Another important area that requires our continued hardwork is email addresses.

What do you foresee as the negative aspect to IDNs?
There has been talk about IDN causing problem for anglo-centric or Latin-based language users to be unable to connect to parts of the Internet. I do not think the characterization of such situation is correct. As the non-English speaking community today navigates through the Internet utilizing search or clicking on links for which mean little to them, in the future, those not speaking a particular language will still be able to search and click to IDN sites and content. Similarly, today there is already a significant amount of content on the Internet that is non-English, does that mean that content causes the fracturing of the Internet for its legacy users?

How do you hope IDNs are NOT used?
I hope IDN will not be un-used.

What is your biggest hope for IDNs to accomplish?
My biggest hope, then when I first started working on IDN technologies as now, is for IDN to eventually become a natural part of the Internet and a taken-for-granted part of Internet navigation. When people do not consider IDNs "IDN" is when IDN is truly successful. Perhaps then people would not believe that in the beginning domain names were only acceptable in English alphanumeric characters.

Republished from The ICANNblog, Chuck Kisselburg

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