Knowing how to spell a word is not down to some random person’s opinion — or is it?

It’s understood that Hollywood sells Californication…


“Californication” (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Online literacy is lacking — in particular: Most people have little or no idea of how the “title” idea translates from print to the corresponding concept on the World-Wide Web. Indeed, there may in fact be no corresponding term at all.

In the print era, the mass production of texts dictated that each text needed a unique name. Many thousands of words came to be collectively known as “Moby Dick” — and not just any “Moby Dick”, but specifically Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”.

There is probably no online equivalent for this concept. The file path or directory structure to locate / reference a file has little to do with the construction of a webpage. One single webpage is usually made up of dozens — if not hundreds — of files. The webpage may have a “title” tag in HTML, but there is no limit to the number of HTML pages that can have the same “title” tag, the same “author” tag and so on. There is no control whatsoever of the use of such tags — anyone can give any webpage the “title” tag “Moby Dick” and the “author” tag “Herman Melville“. HTML tags are nothing more than a meaningless farce.

It is particularly ironic, that one of the most valuable “Internet” companies is a search engine that uses such ridiculous data to “organize all the world’s information”… — and 99% of people are so illiterate that they would probably not even get this joke. When people finally wake up and smell the coffee, you had better hope that you have already divested your portfolio of all so-called “tech” stocks, because otherwise you will probably learn a very hard lesson.

The way information is organized online from a legal point of view is an entirely different matter. All information is hierarchically organized in domains, and at each level the authority is inherited from that of the immediately higher level. Most people are completely oblivious of this simple fact, and they actually believe that what they refer to as “their” Facebook page actually belongs to them (and not Facebook, Inc).

Perhaps the most straightforward way of explaining this to the by and large illiterate masses is to compare the web to a set of dictionaries. Just as there is a “Webster’s Dictionary” and also a “Oxford English Dictionary”, so too there is “.com” and “.net”. Indeed: There are many more dictionaries, and there are also many more top-level domains. When someone professes to understand English, they would probably adhere to what most people consider to be English — in other words: In the case of American English, Webster’s Dictionary; In the case of Oxford English, the Oxford Dictionary. For both cases — for dictionaries as well as for top-level domains — each string is given one entry. All of the information about that string (within that dictionary or that top-level domain) is contained in that entry — there are no duplicates. Likewise, just as the team that creates Webster’s Dictionary may be a different team than the team that creates Oxford English Dictionary, so too the team that controls the .com registry may be a different team than the team that controls the .net registry.

This is, more or less, how domains are legally recognized… — but at least 9 times out of 10, people will believe that domains are the online equivalent of “Herman Melville” and/or “Moby Dick”. Likewise: At least 9 out of 10 people believe that entering a string like “Herman Melville” or “Moby Dick” at the website means something more than entering the string somewhere else. Indeed, there are now laws in Europe that aim to regulate what can happen when entering strings at — so perhaps “Google results” are no longer entirely up to the government of the United States of America (as Hillary Clinton once declared them to be). ;)

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