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Hello Boys

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‘Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la, and it’s also the season of good will to all men, which presumably includes the French. Damn, that’s just not natural for a Briton, but in the spirit of Christmas I’ll give it a good try. We all have a huge debt of gratitude to pay to Vint Cerf (surely the true root of ‘surfing the Internet’) who is responsible for TCP/IP, while Paul Mockapetris worked on DNS, two technologies that combined to give us the Internet and, hence, one of the most important inventions in my lifetime, e-mail.

It was a Brit, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who came up with hypertext and the World Wide Web while he was working at CERN in Geneva. These technologies took the original concept of the Internet that was intended to link American academic and military institutions into something that we use to order books, read the news and peruse reviews of graphics card. When you consider the history of the Internet it’s no great surprise that the Americans have kept control of ICANN and the Top-Level Domain system, so even though .com ought to refer to an international entity, you’ll find that every American company considers that it has the right to be a .com, such as www.bigbeartire.com of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. TrustedReviews, of course, deserves its .com as it is a virtual centre of knowledge, but a bloke who sells tires – I mean tyres – in Wisconsin, well, blimey.

I have never knowingly seen a .us web address in action, whereas I use .co.uk every day of my life, so the Americans have reserved .gov for the US Government and .mil for the US Military, rather than the more logical .gov.us and .mil.us but I reckon this is a tiny price to pay for the gift of the Internet and I personally take pride as I key in a .gov.uk web address.

As I’m British you won’t be surprised to learn that I have only a basic grasp of French and German and that my experience of written language runs from left to right across the page and uses the Roman alphabet rather than pictograms.

And while I get annoyed at American English with its spellings of color, center, tire and ‘Oh my Gosh’ it doesn’t cause me any particular hardship.

But I do have every sympathy with the majority of the planet who would doubtless prefer that the Internet was more considerate to their needs. There are 1.3 billion Chinese, a billion Indians as well as more than 200 million Indonesians and 170 million Brazilians, and let’s not forget the Russians, South Koreans and the Japanese. These are all important nations and significant economies, and every last one of them seems to be less strident about cultural imperialism than the French who only number 60 million, of whom a significant part spend their time rioting and burning 30,000 cars in 2005 for no apparent reason.

The Internet has brought us all closer together, but the World Wide Web has helped me to buy ladies underwear, and this has enhanced my life no end, although it probably requires some explanation.

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