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   Re: i18n (was Re: Open Standards Processes)

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  • From: Gregg Reynolds <greyno@mcs.com>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 23:43:29 -0400

Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> From: Gregg Reynolds <greyno@mcs.com>
> >If I've misunderstood something I hope somebody will correct me, but if
> >I'm not mistaken pretty much everybody involved is from the the
> >"developed" world, mostly the West.
> Because to participate means there must be the leisure or finance to
> do so, and there must be the technological background to do so, and
> there must be the techno-cultural self-awareness to  do so. All these
> are attributes of the center (or North, or West, whatever you call it.)


> I asked several Thais when line breaks could occur, for example. The
> best answer I got was "when it is beautiful". 

Best possible answer!

> The Web is not  a library, it is a TV network posing as a library. 

Ah, but we'll *make* it a library.

> If you are concerned about this, the best approach is to ask them exactly
> what they need: I have found an enormous goodwill to the idea of
> throrough-going i18n at W3C.  Their problem is that they cannot devote
> resources to finding out what is needed. So make up a nice couple of
> pages of solutions to  real problems that you see, and send it off to
> Martin Duerst, Jon Bosak and Bert Bos. I am sure they would be
> delighted for all input: they are gathering information for CSS3 and XSL.

I'll do my best.  Personally I'd like nothing better than to have a real
influence in extending computational rights beyond the developed world,
but it is precisely the notion of Western "experts" (or people like me -
"I'm not really an expert -but I play one on the internet!") shaping
such stuff without "native" input that makes me a little uneasy.  But
you rightly point out that that's the way of the world.

I'm also interested in your boss' view on such issues.  Can you put me
in touch with him?  Actually I think the best thing I could do would be
to find the appropriate people and get them involved.

> When I started looking at "native language markup" it is interesting that
> the only opposition I got, outside Americans, was from Indians. I think that
> was because all educated Indians speak English

Sorry, I can't resist this one:  I think you mean all Indians educated
in English.  I would hesitate to say that a highly trained Ayurvedic
physician without English, or an Indian Imam who has memorized the Quran
but never learned English was somehow uneducated.  Of course then we get
into complex social dynamics of status, power, etc within a society. 
Which means, now that I think of it, that my ardor for extending
computational rights is itself a rather colonialist attitude.  After all
it is rather like telling a traditional society that they need to be
more open, like us, isn't it?  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll just stick with "*I*
want to read and write Arabic on the net!" and leave the Liberation
Computer to somebody else.  (Prediction:  within 10 years we'll see a
move to declare computation as a fundamental human right.  Your read it
here first.)

Thanks much for your very informative and sensitive response.  And I'll
definitely take a look at your book <plug>The XML and SGML

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