Twitter and Web Globalization

icann_es

ICANN recently launched its own Twitter feed. And since ICANN is a global organization, it launched more than one language feed — one in English and one in Spanish.

http://twitter.com/icann_en

http://twitter.com/icann_es

This is not the most scalable solution. And I’m not trying to pick on Twitter; the issue effects any multinational company or organization.

For instance, let’s say ICANN launches a Portuguese feed for Brazil. The address would have to read twitter.com/icann_pt_br. Similar challenges arise with French (Canada vs. France). And even the English and Spanish feeds are inherently going to exclude various flavors of the languages.

In addition, if I were wanting to be a pain, I could register icann_ru to beat ICANN to that address. And this highlights a larger emerging issue (and opportunity) as Twitter becomes more corporate and less personal — how to ensure that brand holders have access to their names. I always thought this would be a nice revenue source for Twitter, similar to the way that registries profit from domain registrations.

Ideally, Twitter would allow you to set up one address and then forward language-specific feeds to the subscriber based on their preference — sort of like how language negotiation works now with Web browsers. For instance, if I type in Google.com, the language I get aligns with the language preference of my browser.

But therein lies the challenge of Twitter — it doesn’t just send feeds to a browser. It sends the feeds to browsers and mobile devices and even Twitter apps, like Tweetie, which I use on occasion.

ICANN is now migrating its subscribers from icann_en to icann. No word yet on what will happen with icann_es.

What do you think Twitter should do to solve this issue?