A related evolution that doesn't seem to get as much attention is that of
Unicode / ISO-10646 which facilitates use of diverse scripts/writing systems on
computers and the internet. In the early days of e-mail one was limited to
ASCII (basically the English alphabet characters on a typewriter keyboard) and
even accents used in, say French or Spanish, were impossible. Later evolution
of expanded the character set but one was still limited to a particular set of
Latin-based characters. Or to substituting other characters/alphabets in the
limited space available. This led to issues of incompatibility and, among other
things, difficulties with multilingual web content.

Unicode is intended to resolve that situation - and the fundamental divide
associated with it - and has made great strides. Most computer systems now are
built around Unicode and the process of encoding scripts is progressing to less
widely used scripts. Next week there is another unicode conference, this one in
California (see http://www.unicode.org/iuc/iuc26/ ). One thing to watch is how
the Unicode / ISO-10646 process itself, which like the internet began in the
US, becomes more internationalized.

Don Osborn


> August 30, 2004 
> Thirty-five years after scientists at UCLA linked two bulky computers using 
> 15-foot gray cable, testing a new way for exchanging data over networks, what
> would ultimately become the Internet remains a work in progress. 
> University researchers are experimenting with ways to increase its capacity 
> and speed. Programmers are trying to imbue Web pages with intelligence. And 
> work is under way to re-engineer the network to reduce spam and security 
> troubles. 
> All the while, threats loom: Critics warn that commercial, legal and 
> political pressures could hinder the types of innovations that made the
> Internet what 
> it is today. 
> http://www.suntimes.com/output/tech/cst-fin-net30.html 
> Bonnie Bracey 
> bbracey @ aol. com

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