Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's in a two letter abbreviation (CA)?

I just ran across this tweet from Jim Weirich:

reading the tracking info from UPS and suddenly realized that there is a big difference between "Ontario, CA" and "Ontario, CA, US"

A Google search of the words "ontario ca" yields a hodgepodge of results:

As you can see, Google shows a link to the Google Map for Ontario, Canada; the official website for the city of Ontario, California; a Wikipedia entry for Ontario, California; and the home page for the Government of Ontario, Canada.

The confusion is the result of two competing standards: the official state abbreviations as maintained by the US Postal Service (in which "CA" stands for California), and the list of top-level domains as maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (in which "CA" stands for Canada). And, of course, there's the underlying fact that the California city was named after the home of the Chaffey brothers who founded the place. (Not sure where they got the "Mildura" name from when they went to Australia, but did you know that there is a Chaffey Secondary College down under?)

But despite this confusion, Canada and California have learned to work together. The Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership does a lot of things that I'm sure are strategic and innovative.

Just don't refer to the organization as CACA. That's a Japanese seminar devoted to the categorical aspects of constructive algorithmics. It ended up changing its name to TOPS (The Tokyo Programming Seminar).