Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Holland Open 2008

This years Holland Open has come and gone. As always conferences are about people. The people that present are obviously in the picture, their message is getting the lime light. The people that present their company are also very much willing to present their products and services.

Simon Brouwer from Open Taal and the Dutch Open Office project promoted the availability of language tools for everyone. Simon discussed the need for Open Source tools to be as good in its support as any other tool. For the Dutch language this has proven to be problematic because of the proprietary nature of contracts for the support of the official Dutch orthography. The "Nederlandse Taalunie" has started to provide certification of a spell checker and this certification has now been issued to spell checkers for Dutch, including the one used by Open Office and Firefox. There is more to this story and, I hope to inform about this in a future post.

Talking with people I have worked with in the past is always nice. I met with the people of Edia, they have a great little tool for people learning the Dutch language. Terminology that is current and of interest is the terminology learned best. In their news reader "Alane", people read small articles about things that are currently in the news. They are combined with excercises that help improve language skills. This is great software. This approach would work with any language. We discussed how we could help each other.

At the conference there was a prominent education track. I was really happy to meet Bob Hofmans from iEARN. When you are in education, and you do not know iEARN, you should! It is an international organisation that helps students become citizens of this world. This conference was great for them because it brought people together and it kicked off new projects and experiments. I will be interested what Second Life will do for them.

With people of companies like SUN and IBM present, it proved an excellent opportunity to pitch some of the issues that I deal with. We talked about standards, the ISO-639-6, localisation and the role of communities, the changed role of companies in the face of Open Source.

Yes I showed what we did for Commons as well. People love the idea of being able to find pictures in multiple languages. The next step is to make the demonstration project a reality in Commons itself.
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