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The Atlantic | 02.13.17

A Surreal Trip to a Domain-Names Conference

Ingrid Burrington

D&S artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington explores the importance of domain names at NamesCon, an annual conference for the domain-names industry.

In addition to being crucial to making the web work, domain names are also a highly political pocket of the web, particularly shaped by the legacy of colonialism. Most of the underlying protocols that make the internet work—including DNS—are encoded in ASCII, which translates bits into letterforms, numbers, and punctuation marks. But ASCII’s letterforms only represent the Latin alphabet, limiting expression in domain names to Western languages (while arguing that a character encoding is an instrument of imperialism sounds bold, so does assuming that “text” is synonymous only with “English”).

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