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May 6, 2009

what the Dickens?

"I don't care whether I am a Minx or a Sphinx"
-- Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Tired of those ugly and complicated web page addresses? This site will convert any URL into a random quotation from the works of Charles Dickens. For example, instead of using the awkward address of my blog, you can enter http://dickensurl.com/7e94/I_dont_care_whether_I_am_a_Minx_or_a_Sphinx and find yourself right back here. Bookmark it!

This is a silly example, but there are significant issues regarding domain names. When I first became interested in technology policy around 2000, I thought that simple, memorable names were going to be scarce resources that the rich and powerful would monopolize. I still think it is valuable to own, say, Boston.com (even though the current owner is the poor beleaguered Boston Globe). But it turns out that there are so many billions of web pages--often automatically generated from databases--that people can't remember URLs or tell them to each other. Instead, we rely on tools to find sites, and the most influential tools are search engines. A high Google-ranking is more valuable than a catchy domain name. That means that the policies and algorithms used by the major search engines deserve constant scrutiny.

May 6, 2009 6:00 PM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments


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