Monday, April 14, 2008

What's an Icio?

There's a web address that I've seen a lot over the past few years, but I've always tried to ignore it. It's like a white noise, a nuisance, that keeps getting in the way of the hundreds of other stimuli vying for my attention at any one time.

But in the last week, I've heard one person talk about it and read another article in American Libraries about it. The web address is

I had no idea what it was about or what it did, but I refused to visit the site because of its obnoxious URL. It felt like whoever created it was trying way too hard to be clever, using the .us domain to create a cutesy word. The parsing of the word into different nodes makes no sense to me. Why is the server called "del"? And what the hell is an "icio"? In my mind, I had always pronounced the website by its separate parts, "del-icio-us" and figured the word-play was in the spelling. But then I heard someone speak it out loud, they pronounced it like the word, "delicious." That made me

What about this site makes it "delicious?" That is not an adjective to be used for nerdy librarian websites. It should be reserved for pizza, chocolate, or irony. Today, for the first time, I actually visited the site. It is in no way "delicious." It is a "social bookmarking service", whatever that is, but I can guarantee you it has nothing to do with how tasty food is.

I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. It's like fingers on a chalkboard.

The address is neither clever nor relevant to its content. It's

See? I can be clever and irrelevant, too!


Dan S said...

The first part of a URL has historically been the machine name. It used to be that www was the default computer where web requests went. So, goes to the machine www at google and goes a machine called image. Now, of course, everything is virtual and there are banks of machines serving up content, so probably goes to hundreds or thousands of machines that can respond to web requests.

They just decided to be clever and reserve as a way to make it seem like they have delicious.

Sure, delicious has nothing to do with bookmarks, but ebay has nothing to do with shopping nor does google with searching. It's just a brand - nothing to get so worked up about :)

If we could just harness some of that righteous anger for social or environmental justice... :)

Tim said...

I think it's the linguist in me that doesn't like it.

The .us is a domain code, like .com or .org. These are pronounced "dot U.S.", "dot com," etc. If you reserve a domain name like ("icio dot U.S."), you're trying to be clever and have your "dot U.S." do double duty-- it's a domain code AND a "clever" suffix. But it can't do that. That's not how language works. We don't have natural affixes in our language that do double duty.

As for eBay and Google, those are brand names. eBay does mean online shopping, and Google does mean searching. But "Del Icio," by itself, means nothing. It's a failed attempt at being clever.

And there's enough of my righteous anger to go around...