A bunch of us were chatting yesterday about ICANN's new TLD policy, wherein companies can buy custom TLDs for tons of money, such as .google or .microsoft. Peter Harkins, over at push.cx, maintains that this means 'WWW' will never die. The thinking is that now we'll need a way to indicate the start of a web address more than ever since anything dot anything might be one. HTTP:// isn't used much currently, it sounds ugly in commercials and no one ever types it, so there's no reason to assume that'll be it. However, I don't think that 'WWW' will be it either.
Now, many know that 'WWW' is not actually needed in the domain name, websites will work if you omit it, assuming the web admin knows what he's doing, which tells us that the 'WWW' is there to signify what type of address we have, and that's it. However, ordinary users that don't understand how the Internet works don't understand that its simply denoting a web address and this is where the dependency upon saying 'double you double you double dot" comes from.
So, now we realize that if ordinary users can be trained to realize that 'WWW' is just a symbol, we can be free of it! What better way to do that, than with a symbol itself? It needs to not be on the keyboard, so users won't be at all confused, and needs to not impact potential future domain names if ICANN ever approves multi-alphabetic domain names. To find such a letter I pored over the Unicode docs and found something I think many will agree is ideal. I give you 0x02AC or :
My name for this symbol is Dub-Dub, taken partly from shortening 'WWW' to 'dub dub dub', partly from dubbing my own symbol over what is used today, and partly from the likening of this to the heart of the Internet, with the sound of a heart beating.
What makes this ideal? First of all we clearly express the fact that it incorporates multiple 'W's. This will help ordinary users transition into thinking "Oh, this is what WWW meant." Secondly, this is a symbol that wouldn't occur naturally (more on why in a second) to prevent any confusion. Third, In the event of not having any way to produce Unicode symbols, one can simply decrease space between lines, and put another 'W' on top of a 'W' before the address, or make an image out of it using two 'W's. Fourth, by using a symbol, users will realize this isn't something they type, merely indicating an address, much like lerning that '@' helped to demonstrate an email address. Finally, this symbol is the IPA symbol for a "Bilabial Percussive", aka a lip smack. The only place it will show up outside of addresses is in phonetic or linguistic papers, and obviously not be an address. Better, since its not used in any world alphabet it shouldn't appear in a domain name even if ICANN approves other character sets for domains.
So, I think that as people become required to add a 'Double you double you double you' onto many more addresses, they'll attempt to find a better way of expressing that. Its only natural to find a better, faster way to express something commonly used. My vote is for Dub-Dub, and as people start to pick it up it'll evolve into what is used in everyday life.