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December 23, 2009

There is an interesting short piece in the New York Times today about the issues of language and information on the web.

Web domains have comprised solely of Latin alphabet letters, but next year all that will change, starting with the introduction of the Cyrillic web in Russia.  For the proponents of non-Latin domains, part of the issue is information literacy.  As the article points out, “more than half of the world’s 1.6 billion Internet users speak a native language that does not have a Latin alphabet”. In Russia, internet use is  “confined largely to big cities,” so it is hoped that “Cyrillic domains would help it grow in the provinces”. Opponents, however, see a darker possibility with the introduction of Cyrillic web domains: state censorship and broader information control. Russians will still be able to use and create Latin web domains, of course, so it will be interesting to see just how much the new domains actually change the Russian web environment in the coming years.

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