Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chemical elements - finding information on the Internet

Chemical element is a class in OmegaWiki. One hundred eighteen exist in this class and at the time of writing we have more then 12 translations for 73 languages. If every one of these languages have all translations, there would be 8614 translations, currently there are 5035 translations.

For many of these translations a Wikipedia article exists. But how can we provide information to people who do not speak one of the languages that we have a Wikipedia article for? How can we find information in the language of these people? The first port of call is Google. Google does a great job, they process daily terabytes in order to provide everyone with the ability to find what exists on the Internet. When there is information on the Internet, a word like lithium exists in at least five languages. When you are looking for information in Czech, it is likely to be drowned in information in English. A sophisticated user knows about Google's advanced search. However many languages do not exist on this list... languages like Bengali, Hindi or Swahili...

Google cannot find it yet. One of the reasons why they cannot find it is because the documents on the Internet do not tell in what language they are written. You have to have smart routines that distinguish one language from the next. It would be much easier if this information was entered with the document at the source. Sadly all web tools are not able to do this properly.

Wikia has entered the search business. They want to be open, transparent and as I learned from within Wikia, they want to be multi lingual in a few months. I will be SO happy if they allow people to tag information on the Internet that is important to them as being in a specific language. Because this will allow us to point to documents that exist on the Internet.

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