Even though you may not use the functionality, chances are that you have a web-enabled cell phone. In the near future, you may dial that same phone in a very different way.
ICANN (the folks who are responsible for internet names and addresses) has approved a new web address to serve, in effect, as an internet telephone number. The new top-level domain, called .tel, would be attached to a web address and would be used as one would use a telephone number today. Directing your web enabled telephone (home telephones are moving to web based technologies too) towards geek-tips.tel, for example, could initiate an internet phone call to my home.
A .tel address would also allow someone to publish and control, in real time, how they can be reached. Let’s say, for instance, I want MachoMan.tel to call me at home today, but would rather have it call my office tomorrow. All I’ll have to do is login to my account, submit a quick change, and the address will now route calls to my office telephone.
So what does all of this mean? Even though it isn’t the intention of the folks over at Telnic, who convinced ICANN to move forward on this project, memorizing a string of numbers to call someone will, no doubt, soon become a distant memory and the source for more of our “how we did it back then” stories for the grandkids to come.
I’m still not sure how my future grandkids will feel about calling grandpa at MachoMan.tel. Maybe I’ll stick with something they’ll find a little less humorous ;)