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Reflections on Improvements

Before I joined ICANN staff nearly a year ago, I bought domains, set up websites, let domains expire, ran a blog, read about domain name disputes, registration policies and procedures, communicated with registrars and registries, and eventually attended meetings to learn more about ICANN. I do not have any statistics on this, but I would guess that majority of Internet users know little about purchasing domain names & creating websites and know even less about ICANN and how they can participate. There are some bright and creative people here at ICANN that are working to change this perception with Internet users, and improve participation with individual registrants. ICANN is unique – I do not know of a global forum that offers opportunities to individual participation at the same scale.

Rather than lament lack of opportunities for participation, I want to highlight those options where registrants and users can directly participate. In the past year, ICANN has come a long way toward providing greater opportunity for direct involvement by users and individuals in ICANN meetings, decisions and discussions. ICANN now has a blog (http://blog.icann.org), we have public comment fora and welcome comments and suggestions on a variety of topics. Users can comment on proposed new registry services, registry agreements and amendments, new TLDs, among many other issues. Users can attend one of ICANN’s meetings, or follow meetings through the webcast on ICANN’s website. ICANN had a public participation website during the December 2006 meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I expect another public participation site will be available for the upcoming meetings in Lisbon and San Juan. Individuals can also participate in the growing ALAC & regional at-large organizations. Can these options be improved? Definitely, it takes time and dedication.

Change does not occur overnight, but I have already seen a number of changes since this time last year. These improvements should become more apparent throughout 2007.

Comments

    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."