Darwin's Theories Blog

New Theories for a New Time

Drop the Dub-Dub-Dub

WWW web names was a hack. Time to let it go.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, a new technology was invented for downloading research papers. Its creator prophetically named it the "World Wide Web", which in today’s busy world takes too long to say. So we called it www, which some people initially pronounced "double-u double-u double-u", until they too got tired and started pronouncing it "dub dub dub." Why did company internet sites even need www at the front at all, like www.fedex.com or www.sq.com? Technically they didn’t, but at the time WWW was new, and many sites already had File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites set up for users to download support files, with ftp. at the front of the host name. So it was natural to use www. at the front for this new-fangled "web site" thingie; if the web was just a passing fancy, the existing ftp sites wouldn’t have to change.

Fast forward three decades. FTP was proven to be insecure (it sent your passwords un-encrypted over the Internet, believe it or not) and has pretty much been displaced. For downloads everybody uses the once-upstart WWW, and for file transfers and interactive logins the cognoscenti use scp and 'ssh' respectively (the latter also replacing the ancient telnet program). So today, almost all tech-savy companies allow you to use just their domain name for a web connection. For example, I advertise my web site as just darwinsys.com, having long ago dropped the www. prefix. Of course the old way is still supported for those who enjoy typing four extra characters every time they type out a web address. And will have to be supported for some time into the future. Meanwhile, please join me in my crusade to simplify the internet, and drop the dub-dub-dub.

P.S. And don’t get me started on why we have to type the useless "//" in every URL. Hey, some browsers now even allow you to omit the "//" - progress!