Friday, 24 October 2008

Someone shoot the double-you man

Some aspects of technology are quite well thought out - others are brainless. The web is something I use every day I'm writing, and I treasure it, but I would happily agree to the disposal of whoever it was thought of putting www. at the start of every web address. Why? It's just a waste of typing energy. Think of all the unnecessary bandwidth taken up by all those billions of redundant www.s floating round the net.

But the direct burden on using the web is as nothing to having to say the thing. How clumsy. Double-you, double-you, double-you - a bit of a tongue twister at best. Nine syllables of your life you will never get back every time you tell someone a web address.

Of course, we could be more efficient. We could say 'triple double-you' (just five syllables) or the even more compact 'three double-yous'. But we don't. For some reason, our naming conventions don't stretch to triple. When you read a number out, it's okay to say 'double six' (or whatever) but 'triple six' feels wrong, and not just because it's the number of the beast. We're not comfortable with triples. (Having said that, think yourself lucky Tim Berners-Lee didn't call it the World Web rather than the World Wide Web. Imagine the horror of double double-you.)

But the ultimate effeciency is to return to childhood. I saw a re-run of Top Gear on Dave the other day (what else can you see on Dave?), where clothes bullies Trinny and Susanna were the guest drivers and were emphasising the need to put 'VW' on their lap times to indicate 'very wet'. But they didn't say 'Vee double-you.' In a bid to appear non-intellectual (or possibly, heaven help us, cute) they kept saying 'vuh wuh', giving the letters the pronunciation very young children are taught.

And that's the answer to www. No more 'double-you, double-you, double-you dot brianclegg dot net' you can just say 'wuh wuh wuh dot brianclegg dot net.' Why not? Three simple syllables, as compact as you can make it. It's obvious what you mean. And I just can't wait to hear John Humphreys saying it on the Today programme.

3 comments:

  1. It's so much easier in Finland - it's ve-ve-ve piste brianclegg piste net.

    As to having the www at the start - this is necessary for the networks. Our department has a sub-domain called rni.heliski.fi, which has several computers on it. Only one of these is the web server, so that gets called www, and all the others have names like rolfpc58. If you remove the www, large networks won't know which machine to use.

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  2. Bob -
    'Ve-ve-ve piste' sounds a bit like a state some people get in on Friday night.

    I'm afraid I'll have to disagree on the necessity. There's nothing to stop addresses defaulting to www unless they had a 'not www' marker (e.g. x.) at the start of the address. I know it would be pain to change everything, but once that pain was over, the vast majority of web users who don't have their own servers could heave a sigh of relief...

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  3. "Nine syllables of your life you will never get back every time you tell someone a web address."

    Especially annoying when the full version of the acronym has only 3 syllables!

    Maybe Dubya Dubya Dubya would be better?

    I remember a physics teacher once verbally giving us the spelling for a word that had confused a few people. Apparently half the class wrote "vacwm" in their next exam.

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