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Stump the Geeks

Stump the Geeks

Stump the geeks

Stump the geeks

Stump the geeks


Published: Monday, June 12, 2000

Stump the Geeks

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Q. I've been trying to explain to nontechnical friends what ICANN is and why they should care. I'm having an unusually difficult time keeping my explanation to a basic level that they can understand. I now understand why this hasn't been an issue outside of the high-tech trade press, in spite of the fact that these folks in essence control the Internet. Can you help?

Elizabeth Holroyd

Chapel Hill

A. I've always believed that the more important a government agency is, the more obscure its name. If this idea is true, then the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN at is perhaps one of the most important agencies to ever come into existence. Moreover, ICANN is a nongovernment agency founded by the U.S. government to administer the most important part of the Internet -- who and what get what names and addresses.

You need only recall that Adam was given the right to name the animals -- and thus was given dominion over them -- to begin to understand the importance of names and numbers. We're talking about your right to have your name, your company's name or your dog's name. We're talking about what countries get what rights of control to access to information. We're talking dominion over the Internet.

You can have a voice and a choice in the futures of the Internet by simply becoming an individual member of ICANN. Getting an ICANN membership is declaring citizenship in the Internet. You get to vote and the right to serve on committees that will make important decisions about our joint futures. To become a member, you must to be over 16 years of age, have an e-mail address and a real and verifiable postal address, then go to and fill out the membership form there.

In Germany, the Bertelsmann Foundation's registration campaign, , has been extremely successful at convincing Germans to become members. And their explanation of what ICANN is and why Germans should join is much clearer that the ICANN's own description of itself.

As a result of the Bertelsmann Foundation's work, the Germans accounted for nearly 25 percent of all ICANN individual memberships as of May 2000. Look at this list of the top five countries by individual membership and you can see what Internet activism has done for Germany:

  • 6,915 -- 40.9 percent, United States

  • 4,107 -- 24.3 percent, Germany

  • 715 -- 4.2 percent, Canada

  • 669 -- 4 percent, United Kingdom

  • 338 -- 2 percent, Japan

    For a complete summary list of individual memberships by country, see Declan McCullagh's Politech archive at

    The At Large Membership election process will begin with a list from the Nominating Committee (now to July 20) to be followed by a period of self-nomination (July 20 to Aug. 20), a campaign period (Aug. 20 to Sept. 20) and then a vote by the At Large Members (Sept. 20 to Oct. 1).

    So don't delay. Sign up now at and become a voting citizen of the Internet and assure your part in the dominion of our future.

    Paul Jones

    director, Metalab

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Q.A few years back, I remember reading about Dynamic HTML. What is it and how is it different than regular HTML? Is it widely used in Web sites today? Where can I learn more about DHTML?

    Jon Mitchell

    A. I had to double-check my references before venturing to answer the simple

    question, "what is Dynamic HTML?" That's because Dynamic HTML (DHTML) is not actually a scripting or markup language. DHTML is the concept of using a browser scripting language to animate, stack and format HTML content already loaded on the screen. Along with existing standards such as Cascading Style Sheets, DHTML allows the developer to control every aspect of a page: behavior, fonts, page formatting and layout.

    The benefit DHTML provides is an overall interactive enhancement to an otherwise static Web browser experience. With DHTML we can create dynamic Web site graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that behave and feel like native operating system GUIs without refreshing the browser to the server for a state change. And there's no downloading additional applets, controls, or software plug-ins. Developers commonly use DHTML pop-out menus to reduce the number of clicks necessary for users to access information.

    I hesitate to say that DHTML is widely used in Web sites today, but it is common to see it implemented. From the surface it's hard to understand why all Web sites aren't loaded with DHTML. The single biggest problem with serving up DHTML resides in the Document Object Model (DOM). DHTML is an object-oriented creation and its underlying skeletal structure is the DOM.

    The DOM defines how a Web page is broken down into building-block objects that a scripting language can manipulate and interact with.

    Unfortunately for developers, when DHTML was introduced there were no DOM standards, so Microsoft and Netscape naturally adopted different DOMs for their browsers. In order to create cross-platform DHTML, developers have to painstakingly branch (or write two separate versions of) DHTML code in order for their code to work across the two Web browsers. What's even more frustrating is DHTML code that functions erratically across multiple operating systems under the same browser and version number.

    The World Wide Web Consortium ( ) has published its first official release of recommendations for DOM standards, DOM 1. Browser makers must adhere to DOM standards and delinquent DOMs must be eliminated in order for developers to write true cross-platform applications, for businesses to reduce the time and costs of Web site development, and for users to view Web sites that consistently present information correctly.

    Every DHTML developer will appreciate having O'Reilly's Dynamic HTML A Definitive Reference handy. For more information on DHTML online, try's DHTML tips ( ), Web Review's DHTML introduction ( ), and Dan Steinman's DHTML tutorials and components ( ). If you1d like to learn about DOM standards in more depth, The Web Standards Project ( ) is a good resource.

    Kevin Jenkins

    founder, CEO

    Thinksource Inc.

    And a reader response:Lorraine Burquist's answer to the person who asked about how to remove GoHip didn't go far enough. She may not have known that GoHip is an insidious stealth program that resists all normal methods of removal. Here is a link to a discussion of the program and how to remove it:

    Another program to watch out for is Radiate (nee Aureate). It loads advertising to your computer for shareware programs that are supported by a small advertising window in the program. It can transmit personal information from your Windows registry without your knowledge. Look for a file on your computer called "advert.dll" If so, you have it. A program called "Opt Out" is the only way to remove it.

    Keith Helmink

    Technical Writer/Illustrator

    Bell+Howell Mail and Messaging Technologies

    If you have a question, send e-mail to Include your name, e-mail address and a daytime phone number.

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