Next Generation Internet Users?

14 November 2009

Tina Dam

As we (at ICANN staff) have been preparing for the Fast Track launch, for tomorrow, it was suggested to me that I write a blog post about it. I could have written about all the hard work, the long hours, the aggressive testing of the online system, keeping it simple and yet flexible for all expected participants to find it useful for exactly their purpose. Not to mention the work ahead of us and the already tireless hours put in by so many around the world that if I start listing you I’d run out of space – and how amazing it has been to be a part of this new development :)

Instead I have decided to post the letter below. Samira is a real person She is a little girl from a village in a developing country. She has one thing in common with many others – she has no access to the Internet (they do have radio). But while her Internet problems start at a different place than IDNs, I am confident that IDNs at some point soon will make it easier for her to learn about the Internet and also make it easier for her to use it. Samira will have to wait for the postal delivery of this letter – but then there is nothing like getting that kind of mail too :)

Other than that I just like to say that I hope the Fast Track launch goes smoothly, and that it will work favorable for all participants. But most of all I hope that we with this launch will treat IDNs carefully and with the respect it deserves, and that we will continue to work together across time-zones and cultures, because afterall, what is the Internet if it does not work well for many years and users to come.

Dear Samira,
Tomorrow is BIG BIG day for many people around the world and I decided to share it with you.

I know you have not seen the Internet yet, but as you grow up and you do, maybe you will recall this letter and an exciting time. What is the Internet? Well, it’s like this big box of information, pictures, games – you can read and also write about anything you like. it could be about peasants, your favorite food, toy, and you know what? You can even listen to the radio on the Internet. Only your imagination sets a limit for the Internet. Have you ever looked under water? It’s like an entire new world down there, so different than on land. The Internet is kind of like that – a different world – only bigger and it has information about under-water and land in it….anything you can imagine :)

And every page on this Internet has an address. You know, just like you know how to explain where you live. It is made that way so that I can tell you an address and you can then go to that address and read my letter to you, or look at a picture I placed there for you to see. All these addresses have only been able to be written in the Roman alphabet….yes sounds a little weird, but that is just all those letters you see me write here.

Guess what happens tomorrow? Countries around the world – your country too – will be able to get a new address on the Internet. The most exciting thing is that this new address can be in almost any letters you like. So you can use your own language for an address for you. Then your friends and family can use that address and see what you are putting on the Internet. So it will be easier for you and everyone you know to remember that address. I think you will be excited when you see how it works.

I know that even though you already know more than one language, you are soon going to begin learning English. English is the language I used to write this letter to you. Languages are so exciting and they change all the time. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with, but I will tell you more about it in my next letter. Learning another language is amazing and it will help you communicate with people around the world. I have made so many friends around the world who all have helped make the Internet change the way I tried to describe to you. They have all taught me something important about life that I will never forget. But it would not have worked if we did not speak a little bit of the same language. So I really hope that you will be enjoying learning a new language.

You know how you can write your language both by using the Roman alphabet, and also the Arabic one? Well, this Internet change is almost the same thing – now these addresses can be in either alphabet too! And the coolest thing about it is that there is only one to decide which alphabet to use, and that it YOU! It is your choice for you and you alone!

But please keep that in mind when you start using the Internet. Let me know when that is and I will help you get your own address to a place on the Internet, in your language. But remember that I am not able to read or write your language (although I wish) so it may be a little bit difficult for me in the beginning ;-) and I will need your help.

With the very best wishes to you and many many others in the next generation of Internet users. I know I am together with many people around the world when I say that I can’t wait to see what you will use it for and how you will change it over time too….

Tina Dam