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IDN Jargon Buster #1

Understanding the topics related to Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) can be challenging for new readers, especially ones without a technical background. Technical terms, abbreviations, and acronyms can deter readers from learning further about IDNs despite their significance.

Beyond technical communities

The importance of IDN topics has permeated beyond technical communities related to internet governance since it involves a wide array of stakeholders, ranging from academia, civil society, business, policymakers, to individuals. It signifies the multi-scope of IDN issues beyond merely the internet community. IDNs already affects the state of internet affairs given their capacity to include and exclude internet coverage and inclusivity. With global uptake of IDNs, there will be an opportunity to benefit the everyday life of the global population as the future of the world economy, politics, and socio-culture will be embedded with the digital transformation. Hence, the discussion about IDNs can no longer be exclusive to technical communities.

The purpose of the IDN World Report

The IDN World Report intends to not only document progress towards Universal Acceptance (UA) in IDNs, but more importantly, to inform a wider audience about IDNs themselves. The better participation of IDN discussions necessitates a better-informed audience on this topic. This article marks the first of a series of IDN Jargon Buster that aims to explain IDN related terms in a more understandable way for the general public. The IDN Jargon Buster series consists of three articles: a) The General Terms; b) Actors and Institutions; and c) Historical Milestones. This first article will explain the glossary of basic concepts and general terms related to the IDN topic.

Glossary of basic concepts

Domain Name is one of the Internet’s system of unique identifiers. A domain name can be used as the address of one’s website (or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or an email address. A domain name provides a translation between numeric IP addresses and is more memorable to people than long strings of numbers that comprise IP addresses. In this way, a domain name locates one’s website or email address to be accessible and meaningful, and memorable for internet users . For example:

Top-Level Domain (TLD) is the part of the domain name that is situated after the final dot. In, the Top-Level Domain is .eu Second-Level Domain (SLD or 2LD) is the part of the domain name that comes before the final dot. In, the Second-Level Domain is idnworldreport.

Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) is a specific TLD for countries and territories, such as uk, id, de, fr, jp, id, and others that are contained within the ISO 3166-1 list of two letter country-codes.

Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) is a generic TLD. It is intended for general internet users, such as com, biz, org, regardless of their geographic location.

Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) is a domain name containing internationalised character sets. It is because the domain names (and internet, in general) have been historically limited to a subset of or ASCII characters, namely the Latin script a-z, 0-9 and the hyphen.

The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is the standard used by the internet community to represent digital coding on the internet. This standard uses a to z, 0 to 9 and the hyphen. This restricted character set is known as LDH (Letters, Digits and Hyphen) within the technical community.

Universal Acceptance (UA) is the idea that domain names and all email addresses should work in all software applications. It is intended to make the use of the internet more inclusive for broader populations, especially those using non-Roman/Latin scripts.

Unicode is an ASCII coding standard used by the technical community to convert non-Roman/Latin scripts into readable characters for the machine/computer/internet. Non-Roman/Latin scripts are converted into LDH (Letters, Digits and Hyphen).

Punycode is a way of translating non-ASCII characters/words to be read by Unicode ASCII coding. Unicode is the standard encoding in ASCII, while punycode is the way to translate non-ASCII into ASCII.

Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming database for Domain Names. This system translates the domain name to IP address and vice versa when one accesses the internet. This system is coordinated by ICANN.

ICANN is an essential institution that is situated in the centre of internet governance. Understanding ICANN will lead to understanding the bigger picture of the internet governance and IDN topics. We’ll explain ICANN and other related institutions and actors in the next article of the IDN World Report Jargon Buster!

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