The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is meeting in Durban, South Africa this week, and the future of the web is at stake. Or, at least, the future of what you type into a web browser to find yourself at a particular webpage. While you might be familiar with top-level domains like ".com," ".net", ".org" and ".gov", there will soon be plenty more. This week, the organization signed the first four generic top-level domains (gTLD) into existence, including:

  • .شبكة (Arabic for "Web")
  • .游戏 (Chinese for "Game")
  • .онлайн (Russian for "Online")
  • .сайт (Russian for "Web site")

As you might notice, they're all non-English words, and that's a milestone of sorts. "It will mark the first time that people will be able to access and type in a website address for generic Top-Level Domains in their native language," reads the organization's press release. Registry agreements for all four of these gTLDs were signed by domain registry services, which will manage them from here on, doling out individual domain names using these suffixes.

Also up for consideration at the Durban conference are the controversial gTLDs for .Amazon and .Patagonia, each of which was applied for by the US company that bears their name, but which are under fire from various governments who claim that their local geographical regions, not the retailers, deserve the association. According to Domain Incite, clothing retailer Patagonia has already withdrawn its gTLD application, but .Amazon may also lose its bid. At the end of an hour-long meeting, the ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee unanimously agreed to recommend to ICANN that it reject .Amazon because of the geographical objections.

The ICANN board could vote differently, but it's quite likely that Amazon won't control .Amazon in the future.