There's No Such Thing as a URL · Strange, but true, even though we talk about them all the time, those things that begin http://... and are painted on the sides of buses and buildings everywhere. These things are designed to be used by computer programs, right? So ask your friendly local programmer to write a program to use them for something, and she'll go try to dig up the official documentation on what to do, and pretty quickly find that there isn't any for URLs; everything on the subject officially expired years ago. It turns out that all the official documentation is now about "URIs" not "URLs", so that's what you've been using in recent years, whether you know it or not.

It turns out that the shift from URL to URI was reasonably sensible, but on the other hand, as a veteran of work on the Oxford English Dictionary, I'm keenly aware how silly it is for the supposed authorities, whether they be the Académie française or the IETF, to try to act as a traffic cop on the passage of words into and out of the language; the population uses what it wants to use, and for the moment it wants to use URL.

Fine; I propose we go on using URL in common speech, but agree that it stands for Universal Republic of Love.

author · Dad
colophon · rights
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February 27, 2003
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