At its General Conference in October 2003, UNESCO passed a:
Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace
Section 14 of this document states, "Member States and international organizations should promote appropriate partnerships in the management of domain names, including multilingual domain names".
ICOM is among the organizations to which this recommendation applies. In compliance with it, subdomains in icom.museum are being made available to ICOM's National Committees using national language representations of their names. This is an extension of the long-standing practice of providing subdomain names in the general form committeename.icom.museum using their English language representations. This facility was initially introduced to establish a unified identity on the Internet for the central ICOM presence and the heterogeneous range of committee activities. It serves the less obvious but perhaps even more important further purpose of providing the committees with persistent identifiers for their websites. These tend regularly to change host platform as the voluntary provision of technical facilities migrates within the committee organizations. The naming convention obviates the need for public concern with tracking current addresses.
The following examples illustrate the use of IDN in the extended service:
The national and English language representations may also be used to provide access to separate resources. This may be seen by comparing the fifth of the links listed above with:
The availability of these alternatives is intended to provide incentive for the National Committees to cultivate multilingual presences on the Internet. Doing so will also support one of the further goals of the UNESCO Recommendation cited above, as stated in its Section 3:
"Member States should formulate appropriate national policies on the crucial issue of language survival in cyberspace, designed to promote the teaching of languages, including mother tongues, in cyberspace".
In extension of this, ICOM's institutional members are encouraged to acquire names directly under .museum. Details about how to do this will be found at http://about.museum. It should be noted that the range of IDN characters available for use on the second level in .museum is currently more restricted than what is being offered on the third level in icom.museum. The character repertoire directly under .museum will, however, be extended in response to the needs of the museum community. Details are at http://about.museum/idn.
The ability of a browser to display international characters is an obvious requirement for their correct rendering and has nothing to do with IDN, as such. It may take some experimentation with a browser's "encoding" or "character coding" settings to deal correctly with all the languages used above. The links on this page will still work in browsing environments that do not fully support the display characters. This page has been written in a manner that does not require the reader to use an IDN-aware browser. Anyone interested in testing if their browser can deal directly with IDN may cut and paste one of the displayed links into their browser's address line. Detailed instructions both about how to acquire IDN-aware software and how to include IDN characters in Web documents is located at http://about.museum/idn/tutorial.html.