What was that website again?

Tired of trying to remember “dot.com” or “dot.ca” and what often seems to be a dozen unrelated letters? Those days may soon be over. A new (and controversial) naming technology that allows net surfers to find Web sites by simply entering keywords and company names will be supported by a customizable browser program built atop Internet Explorer.

The “RealNames” technology (which you may have seen if you use the AltaVista search engine) has been licenced to another company. The system allows a user to retrieve a Web site by typing in a simple word, without the usual “http, slashes” and other non-sensical verbiage that most of us can never remember.

The cumbersome domain-name system was created for email, but, as we all know, a URL is not very user-friendly to say the least. With the new system, a company can register a ”keyword” (such as Coke for the Coca-Cola site) and the system will match these purchased keywords against specific Internet addresses. Netscape has debuted its own version of the service, and Microsoft will soon follow suit.

Some people dislike the RealName system because they claim it “subverts the Net’s established domain-name system” and can avoid somdomains without the users’ knowledge. But with the ease of use the system offers, it’s likely that “real” (and memorable) names will soon prevail.