t byfield on Sun, 15 Mar 1998 09:24:16 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Four Allegories

Four allegories, submitted in order to teach and entertain all Nettimers.
Extracted from RISKS DIGEST 19.63 <http://www.CSL.sri.com/risksinfo.html>

[1. On Names and Spaces]

The "centraal corporation" of Palo Alto recently introduced a new scheme
for entering WWW host addresses into Web browsers.  According to the
marketing literature, you could replace all of that nasty
http://host/directory nonsense with a single word. 

They presented this with a gentle, heartwarming Disney example.
Who wants to think of their toddler son having to type in all those dots
and slashes to read about their favorite fawn, when they could just use
the new scheme and type in "bambi"?

Well, it turns out Junior had better stick with the punctuation. 
Following their press release, thousands of users went directly to their
browsers and typed in "bambi".  Normal browser auto-expansion dropped them
on "www.bambi.com", a decidely non-Disney site where children can learn
about a side of wildlife not fully depicted in the movie. 

There are some fascinating tidbits in a Reuters article on the subject:

 o The company is selling the service to large companies who want
   simpler web addresses in advertising.

 o As people have found, the "single word" approach has some regrettable
   side effects if you don't have their special software installed.

 o The president of the company was "surprised" that browsers would
   jump to a site given an incomplete address. <...>

[2. On Spacing out Names]

Dan Charles of NPR reports that TV mfgrs responded to the 
"What happens when parents lose the {V-chip} password?" question 
	We haven't figured that out yet..

If certificates, authentication and such are a morass for the DOD [as they
are discovering....]; what happens in the larger world of TV sales? Will
we see ads in the classifieds such as: 

  For Sale, 27' Sony, lost password, only gets Disney.. <...>

[3. On Names as Spaces]

A Kansas City company, Applied Micro Technology Inc., is about to begin
selling a device for censoring language in TV broadcasts (intended for the
protection of children).  It works only on closed-captioned broadcasts. 
If a banned word is found in the closed caption, the sound is muted and
the closed caption displayed with a milder word substituted.  The original
design just matched on words, causing DICK VAN DYKE to turn into JERK VAN
GAY.  This was obviously inadequate, so it was extended to recognize
context.  The designer, Rick Bray, says that it now catches 65 out of 66
"offensive words" in the movie Men in Black (for example), and so he now
allows his children to see it, and so they're pleased with the device. 
The article [sorry, source missing] does not say how many false hits it
finds, nor how much dialogue gets lost because the closed captions are not
actually always synchronized with the audio.  There are at present 100
banned words.

[4. On Names in Space]

You may have noticed, that with almost every new movie trailer or
advertisement comes an URL for a web site that in most cases contains
motion video clips, stills, and other information about the movie.  Seems
like just another promotional opportunity which I think few would take
issue with. 

However, I have also noticed a darker trend developing in parallel with
this.  Operators of porn sites are increasingly obtaining domain names
nearly identical to that of the movies being promoted, usually with only a
bit of punctuation being the difference. 

The most recent example: the science-fiction movie "Deep Impact", due out
this summer (an apocalyptic tale of comets crashing to earth).  The print
ads and trailers note the URL "www.deep-impact.com". 

However, if you miss the hyphen in the URL and enter "www.deepimpact.com"
instead, you are greeted with a starfield background (similar, if not
identical to the legitimate site), with a single line of hyperlinked text:
"Click to continue".

Even if you do not click on the text, after about four seconds  you are
automatically linked (redirected) to the page of a pornographic site with
graphics that leave little doubt as to its purpose.

Especially disturbing is this recent trend for these redirector sites to
try to mirror the initial image of the legitimate sites in order to
prevent the user from realizing the error until after the next page has
loaded, or worse (possibly trying to create a legally defensible position)
being able to claim that the user consented to view the site by clicking
on the linked text. 


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