Friday, September 21, 2007

So, what about the last year?

Busy. Some work highlights:

  • Vastly expanded the Pan African Localisation wiki (and that's still in progress). The idea with this is to develop a comprehensive information resource for people of a range of backgrounds approaching localization in African languages. First of all, localizers - people working on or planning a project for some aspect of localization in one or more African langauges. Also policymakers (ICT, language, and increasingly localization), development program planners, local activists, etc. It involves bringing a lot of information together (in many cases just basic with outlinks) and interlinking it. Localization to a certain degree involves bringing together of "previously unrelated skills, or matrices, of thought" (per the well known formulation of Arthur Koestler in another context some years ago) so this wiki is combining information on African languages and sociolinguistics, along with language technology tools, ICT4D information, mention of policies etc. In fact, all these "skils or matrices of thought" can also be understood as interacting parts of a larger "localization ecology," which is a concept I'm working on.

  • Presented at and participated in "Regional Consultation on Local Language Computing Policy in Developing Asia" and "PAN Localization Project Phase II Meeting"meetings of the PAN Localisation Project, held in Thimphu, Bhutan in January. The PAN L10n project is funded by IDRC and has been particularly successful in facilitating localization work in several countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The discussion of "local language computing policy" involved representatives from several other countries in the region.

  • Attended a one-day seminar on "Recent Experiences on Measuring Languages in Cyberspace" at UNESCO in Paris. This was on 22 February, the second day of a two day observance of "International Mother Language Day."

  • Helped organize and participated in the "Pan African Research on L10N Workshop & Localization Blitz" held in Marrakech, Morocco in February 2007. This is another piece in IDRC's strategy to develop a network for localization in Africa. The workshop was organized by the Tactical Technology Collective - same organization that put together Africa Source I (Okahandja, Namibia, 2004) & II (Kalangala, Uganda, 2006) and the Localisation Dev workshop (Warsaw, Poland, 2004). Many of the participants also had been at the PanAfrican Localisation Workshop in Casablanca, Morocco (2005); three others and I came from the seminar in Paris mentioned above.

  • Attended the 38th ACAL 2007 & 11th ALTA 2007 Conference held at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, US, in March 2007. This was an opportunity to connect with various people involved in research on and teaching of African languages. It has been my thought for a while that linguists and language instructors can be involved more with localization efforts.

  • Submitted extensive comments on the Africa section of the "International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development" in May. More about this in a later post.

  • Taught a distance course on "Language and Development Communication for the Payson School of Tulane University. This was an interesting challenge and opportunity to learn as well as teach. I hope I have the opportunity to give this course again.

  • Continued to interact online with various people working on aspects of localization and internationalization. This is not really news though - have been doing this in one form or another for several years.

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