Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Feb 2010 12:29 UTC
Editorial Recently, a story about people mistaking a news story for the Facebook login page has received considerable media attention. It's currently being seen by many as justification for the recent trend in locking people out of their computers for their own protection - but anyone with even basic mathematical skills and a calculator should come to the conclusion that this story has been blown way out of proportion.
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URLs not really universal
by John Bayko on Wed 17th Feb 2010 14:37 UTC
John Bayko
Member since:
2006-10-20

The location bar in most browsers is also a search box - if you type in facebook, to most people (most of the time) that's the same as typing "http://www.facebook.com/", except without all that stupid, useless stuff computer guys like to put in just to make things complicated. Right?

If entering "facebook" on the location bar doesn't take you to the correct location, it's broken, simple as that.

URLs depend on DNS, which is really just another search engine, just one that has internationally agreed-upon rules to guarantee that the result is always correct, but also never intuitive. For normal people, URLs are as meaningless as a dot-notation address, and are therefore not the primary way to identify a site.

Software developers have a sort of blindness to that sort of thing - mistaking one arbitrary representation for something's intrinsic identifier - and miss the way normal users think and act. What they want is for the location bar to be a "universal bookmark" list that they use whey a site is not in their own list of bookmarks (or they just prefer to type a name). There is no such web site name list, so search engines are used as a substitute - but there easily could be (as a search sub-category maybe?), and should be because that is really the solution.

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