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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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Alan Bucher <[log in to unmask]>
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Alan Bucher <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 15 Apr 2004 12:53:29 -0700
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Ramon Vazquez [mailto:[log in to unmask]] writes:
>Some questions to think about on URLs are,
>    * Why did we use the most difficult letter in the alphabet for
>URLs? ('w', double-u) And three times!!!

This was chosen by Tim Berners-Lee and the first team to deploy web
sites. It stands for "World-Wide Web". But I agree that things would
be so much easier if they had chosen "web" for the prefix instead!

But I'd guess they didn't know they'd be setting a standard. There's
no requirement that URLs start with "www". I've often longed for a
movement among web sites to migrate their addresses to "web." "home."
or anything else!  But, alas, at this point it would be more
difficult than getting the US onto the metric system.

The letter "W" is "difficult" because it has the most syllables of
any letter in the English alphabet. If you're going to pick one
letter to say three times, that would not be it.

>    * Why can't i just enter something like 'the university of
> arizona' and go to my desired page?
>          o After all there's only one university of arizona
>          o Something shorther? what about 'u of az'?

Or what about "u of ariz", or "univ of az", or ...? Well, that's the
problem right there. There are too many permutations to enumerate. A
site would have to think of all possible things that a web surfer
might enter to find them, and then they'd have to register them all.
The way it works now, a site registers very few (or one) addresses,
and then search engines fill the gaps. There have been other
proposals for revamping the URL system, such as making them something
like "university/arizona/admissions" or "company/microsoft". But
that's a long way off.

>          o Or why not only type 'microsoft' or 'ibm' or 'amazon'
> and voila!!! why enter the whole enchilada:,

Many web browsers used to do this automatically; that is, if you type
a single word they would automatically try tacking on "www." and
".com" around it. IE changed to take you to their search page (since
they want the search traffic more than they want you to find your
site). Perhaps other browsers still do this.

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