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Re: XML Blueberry (non-ASCII name characters in Japan)

From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>

> I'm afraid I lack contacts in Phnom Penh, but let's say a young
> developer is given the job of creating a markup language for archiving
> documents.  The text is Khmer, but if we listen to the objections of
> those who find additional Name characters distasteful, this developer
> has to make a choice.

The Khmer character set is only a few years old: it was created as
a UN development project in order to allow recovery.  I had some interesting
email with the guy who developed it. At that stage, the big PC problem in
Cambodia was that as soon as phone lines were laid, other people would
rip them up to steal them and sell the copper.  That is what happens in a

So how do we get a country out of poverty?  It is not sufficient, but it is
important to remove all imposed barriers.  In just the same way as new
technology can create disabilities (e.g. maybe I could work fine in a shop
with my
bad eyesite, but now that there are computerised cash registers I cannot
work there),  so technology can create/perpetuate disadvantages.

From that perspective, there is more need to support Khmer than German.

And given the enormous cost of war (and that the military are not now
the leaders in R&D with useful spin-offs, but the followers) it is prudent
from a public policy viewpoint to make sure that there is a level playing

Also, XML is clearly something which is a leader for other technology.
APIs fit in with XML. So if XML gets something right, it flows into
the specification of other systems.  So XML is strategic for
because it adds an extra layer that overcomes many of Unicodes shortcomings.

So, even if there are no current Khmer users, if XML is generous it
increases the chances that as Cambodia reconstructs they will be
able to utilize modern technology.

Rick Jelliffe

P.S. I met a very interesting Professor of Library Science from University
of New South Wales, Prof. Helen Jarvis, once.  What does a library professor
do that is so interesting?  Her "hobby" was to trek around Cambodia with a
map and GPS system, tracking down graves and killing fields and the records
of camps.  She has put them up on a big website, and she told me that often
she gets email from Cambodians saying things like "Thank you, now I know my
daughter is dead". The records may also be useful in war crimes trials.

(She is involved in the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, which tends to
concentrate on centralized databases using common conventions--i.e.
commonality of analysis of problems rather than of interfaces.)

Computers are very useful after national devestation, because of the scale
of the problems: imagine if you had to create a database but you could only
use Russian character fieldnames (if you cannot read Russian) because the
system was donated by Russian aid. It would add difficulty and you would
give up.