Internationalized Domain Names in the
Management of Cultural Heritage
Cary Karp - Museum Domain Management Association

Intended Audience: Software Engineers, Site Coordinators, Web Administrators, Web Designers

Session Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Realizing the full envisioned value of internationalized domain names is contingent upon the ubiquitous availability of IDN-aware software. The requisite development effort is likely to be driven by the anticipated response of the user community. The user and developer communities therefore need to reinforce each other's participation in this initiative if it is to have reasonable prospects of success.

This paper describes relevant factors that have become apparent during the introduction of IDN in the dot-museum (".museum") top-level domain. The holders of names in that domain have long been concerned with the provision of localized digital content. The ability similarly to localize the identifiers of the repositories in which this material is stored gives welcome means for calling attention to, rather than obscuring, the languages of the cultures within which it originated, or of the audiences for which it is intended. However shallow the semantic value of domain names may be, they can indicate linguistic identity in a manner that is of clear interest to agencies such as museums, which are increasingly concerned with the role of language in cultural identity, and the preservation of language diversity.

Unicode is fundamental to all aspects of this process and this paper articulates needs and priorities in cultural action that may, in turn, be of use as the priorities of software developers are set. The paper is intended to further productive dialogue between these communities both to maximize the return from software development, and to ensure the greatest possible societal benefit from the availability of IDN as a banner of culture in the digital realm.