the prestige hierarchy of domain names

please slide your eyeballs on up to the top of your browser window and look at the url in your browser.

language in the realm of computers is particularly interesting because of its ability to command. one writes to a computer and, by doing so, actually acts. some liken this to the ancients' belief in the mystical power of language in the form of runes or charms.

the url is a particularly interesting example of computer language because it's not just words, or even just a command--it's both those instances of language, and a location as well.

everything between the http://and the next / is the name of/location of/directions to a particular website or server. after the /, each term is a directory or file. for instance, the website where i work runs a server machine called FireRescue1, which is our domain name. on that machine are folders corresponding to each of our topics: /products, /ems and so on.

as with any system of language, this one has a grammar that lets us understand the relationships of the parts. in many ways, they go from larger to smaller as you read from left to right, and the smaller parts are contained within the larger ones.

and of course, as in any system of language, even language that's seemingly written for machines, where there is hierarchy, there is prestige.

i recently laughed when a friend recently directed me to his old website, "phoenix web." "oh," I said, are you phoenixweb.com? and he said, "no, phoenix-web.us." and i was immediately struck by what a drop in prestige this was. similarly, this blog would be all the more professional if it were located at inuse.com. but of course, that kind of prestige costs money...

the basic idea for this post came, actually, from a woman's email address i saw: herfirstname@herhusband'slastname.com. would it ever be the other way around?

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