Thursday, November 14, 2013

More notes about all the lists in the sidebar

This blog was originally set up with a side purpose of providing links to various fora (forums) on which African languages and technology were discussed - and these still appear in the sidebar. For some years, some of these fora - email lists and discussion boards - were quite active and had practical impact beyond the important role of facilitating information sharing among diverse people involved in internationalization and localization for (or at least directly relevant to) African languages. They were significant enough, I thought, to be listed under "Facilitating communication about localization" in African Languages in a Digital Age.

The ALDA book was not, however, the place to get into the history of these efforts. A little over 6 years ago, I gave some background about the lists that had been set up under Bisharat and the PanAfrican Localisation (PAL) project (predecessor to ANLoc) in a posting entitled "Some notes about all the lists in the sidebar."

Nor was ALDA the place to discuss specific plans with regard to those lists or more recent forms of social media. I'll take a quick stab at that now, along with other info per "More notes ...."

The "A12n" (Africanization of ICT) lists basically went offline beginning with closing A12-forum and A12n-entraide at the end of 2007, and then A12n-collaboration closing in mid-2009 when Kabissa could no longer host it. The smaller A12n-policy persisted a short while longer. All the traffic on these lists from the end of November 2004 is archived on A12n Archives. However, that leaves out early traffic on three lists, notably the very active first two-and-a-half years of A12n-collab. I am working on recuperating that to post as a file on A12n-archives.

The PAL lists are similarly preserved on PAL-archives.

The QuickTopic boards still exist for reference, but due to issues with spam, most have been closed to new posts. The exceptions are the three boards for the Nigerian "decamillionare" languages - Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba - which are still open. Last August, in the wake of Google Translate's most recent African language machine translation project, which includes these three languages along with Somali and Zulu, I posted on the three related QT boards to see what might ensue. Present thinking is that it's not clear there is a benefit in trying to sustain these as active fora.

There is a similar set of issues for other lists that I have started or co-founded... Like Multilingual_Literacy, which addresses a topic that still seems to me to be under-appreciated (approaches to literacy in school and out, in societies where people speak more than one language). AfrophoneWikis addresses a set of issues that is still very current, but the list is not so active.

So, I will be doing more cleaning of the sidebar soon.

One is left with the conclusion that email lists and discussion boards may have utility depending on the topic and user community, but that they require time and some strong effort to maintain as active communities. Their heyday seems to have passed, just judging (subjectively) by the generally lower traffic on many lists. But at the same time it's not clear that other social media - the Facebook group on African Languages for example - whatever their other advantages, can fill the same role for something like collaboration on localization.

An additional note. A few months ago, I added Google adsense to see what that might yield. It's an experiment, but one that hopefully does not detract too much from the overall presentation. So far it seems to be a waste of space.

1 comment:

Don said...

I've removed the Google Adsense ads. Partly it was the extra clutter, but mainly thinking that generating a hypothetical revenue stream while quoting and using images from other sources could create an issue for some.

As it turns out, there was not even a trickle of earnings, so the choice was easy.