Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Psst! Wanna buy an alphabet?"

#Wikipedia is supported in over 250 languages. MediaWiki supports Unicode and, that is one of the reasons of its success. This does not mean that all languages are technically served well. The request for a new Wikipedia, the one for American Sign Language is delayed for such reasons.

I have argued in the past and, I will again that this kind of technical support cannot be expected of amateurs. It takes experience to solve the whole puzzle that makes a language properly supported on computers, on the Internet.

Michael Everson has the kind of expertise that allows him to solve the issues that exist with many of the languages we have Wikipedias for. Malayalam, Burmese, Lingala are some of the languages that would benefit from dedicated support for their fonts. When it turns out that characters are missing in Unicode, he can expedite the inclusion of such characters. There are strategy proposals that could be implemented when Michael can take charge of them (1) .

Michael is a valued member of the language committee, added thousands of characters to Unicode, was responsible for the inclusion of several scripts in Unicode. He is a champion of Blissymbols and he would love to see a Hindi or Malayalam Wikipedia that is bigger then for instance the Dutch one.

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