When the Internet was young most of us using it had no idea where it was heading. There were a plethora of new services that quickly joined file transfer (FTP) as the initial service: email (which began life as a file transfer), mailing list software (remember BITNET?), Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS), Gopher, and the Web. We thought that we would have a growing ecology of these services and that they would co-habit for some period of time. Thus was born the convention.
I’m of course speaking of the “www” convention for domain names. The thought was that you would have multiple servers that might not be on the same physical machine over time. So if you established domain names for all of your services like this:
you would then be free to move any of those services to another physical machine and simply change the numeric address to which the domain pointed. Also, anyone seeing the URL would know what client to point at it.
Of course this was all before Gopher, WAIS, etc. went to dust and only the Web remained. So now, I assert, it is way past time to drop this convention, since it is only a convention, and just go with the domain. Many individuals and organizations have already done this, but it still persists — mostly with advertising writers who still have no clue.
And don’t get me started about the “slash” business. I swear, if I ever find the advertising hack who started the “back slash” business, I cannot be held accountable for my actions. Still, today, in 2012, you hear radio announcers spewing such drivel as “forward slash” when pronouncing a URL, and — horrors! — even “back slash”. Just shoot me.
So it’s clearly past time to get over “double-you, double-you, double-you” on all the radio commercials and in typing a URL. Drop it and no one gets hurt.