Vint Cerf, cranky geek role model

The global inter-operability of the internet needs to be preserved, Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the net, has told a global gathering in Athens.

Mr Cerf was speaking at the first-ever Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations’ creation to bring all the decision makers involved in the internet together.

He said the ability for everyone and every device to connect to the net using a simple protocol was the backbone of the internet.

But changes to the way the net works, to accommodate a multi-lingual internet, raised concerns, he said.

Work is ongoing to allow people around the world to access the net using their own languages and scripts, such as Arabic, Cyrillic and Chinese ideograms.

Mr Cerf said creating a multi-lingual internet, using what are known as internationalised domain names (IDN), was “a huge technical challenge”.

Viviane Reding, the EC’s information society commissioner, said: “Bridging the digital divide is not just a matter of screens and cables…She said that IDN was “sometimes wrongly seen as technical issue”.

“There is legitimate political imperative,” she said. “Users want to be able to use Chinese ideograms and Arabic scripts.

“There is a real danger that a prolonged delay in the introduction of IDN could lead to fragmentation of the internet name space.”

But Mr Cerf, chairman of Icann, the body which oversees the use and development of domain names, said IDN was very much a technical issue.

“One of the most important aspects is for the user to make unambiguous references to every registered domain name.

“Historically this has been through a small subset of Latin characters.”

“Domain names are not general natural language expressions. They are simply identifiers,” he said. “They must be unique. Names registered today must be able to work into their distant future no matter what characters are added.”

He warned: “A miss-step could easily and permanently break the internet into non-interoperable components.”

The conference is trying to contain a global clash of ideas. There are folks on each side whose positions are defined by political ideology rather than technical considerations.

Folks like Vint Cerf — who set out to build a useful machine — are there trying to rescue the concept of just helping people to use the damned thing.

Thanks JimR



  1. Angel H. Wong says:

    “Folks like Vint Cerf — who set out to build a useful machine — are there trying to rescue the concept of just helping people to use the damned thing.”

    In other words: The neverending struggle of teaching administrators how to use a computer.

  2. Eideard says:

    One of the coolest sidebars on this story happened when a journalist/blogger stopped Cerf afterwards and asked where he might obtain a transcript of his speech — and Cerf handed him a thumb drive and said “track me down and return it after you’ve uploaded!”

  3. tallwookie says:

    yeah he just doesnt want us to “muddy the waters” of his most successful side-project yet, thats all

  4. ECA says:

    IMHO,
    If you really want to HELP the internet…
    MAKE it a real net.
    Make it so that there are interconnects in Every city possible.
    Make it so that IF’ 1 route goes down, it can REROUTE through another set of servers.

    MAKe it a real NET…There are only about 16-24 interconnects that connect 6 groups of telcos… In SOME, if 1 interconnect drops, you loose about 1/2 the internet for access.

  5. mxpwr03 says:

    spam filter test

  6. Test filters with actual comments!!

  7. ECA says:

    Get the hackers to TESt the site..
    SPAM away..


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