Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Securing a place for a language in cyberspace

For a language to survive in our modern world it needs to establishing on the Internet. Having a Wikipedia in a language is considered to be the gold standard of Internet presence. In order to be ready for a well functioning language on the Internet, many things have to be considered and taken care of.

Unesco has published a book called "Securing a place for a language in Cyberspace". If you are interested in this subject, it is a must read book. The book is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.

You would expect that all the issues discussed in this book have been covered for the languages supported by a Wikipedia. This is however not the case. Several of our languages have problems that are hard to resolve unless resources are dedicated to go for a complete solution.

The problem of supporting a language has many facets. Most organisations take care of only one aspect and leave the rest to others. The Wikimedia Foundation in contrast has an interest in a holistic solution for its languages. In order to get involved, the WMF must make such an holistic approach a priority.

It is often wondered why certain languages do not function. It is obvious to me that when the chain of MediaWiki, browser, Unicode, font is broken, the effect will be that people will not recognise the opportunity that Wikipedia provides.
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