Claude, Belated thanks for your note and kind remarks. I'll reply below to part
of your letter...

Quoting Claude Almansi <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:
> > My impression is that bandwidth issues are improving in a lot of places in
> the
> > global South [ . . . ]. However many such
> > places will likely remain behind the curve for a while so that mobilizing
> the
> > latest tech for the maximum multimedia effect will always be inappropriate
> for
> > them.
> 
> That's where the prospect of Microsoft launching the Longhorn OS in 2006 
> (?) is worrying. Will the new programs running on it still be compatible 
>   with the old ones? From what I read, no way my 15Gb HD, 128kb ram, 800 
> MHz laptop bought in 2001 will be able to run Longhorn and its programs. 
> How many access points in the South will be able to afford the needed 
> hardware?

I didn't notice any responses to this. Planned or not, this obsolescence dynamic
definitely sounds problematic.

> > At the same time, development of text content in diverse languages where
> > appropriate, and machine translation for text that won't get otherwise
> > translated, should definitely be on the agenda.
> 
> Machine translation is certainly a vital area - and one that, as a 
> (still) human translator, I'm very interested in. But again, the 
> above-mentioned divide between educators and tech people must be bridged 
> too. Too many European educators tend to poo-poo at the gobbledygook 
> produced by translation programs, without deigning to try and understand 
> why programs do that, and even less try and write in a manner that can 
> be more accurately machine-translated. Their attitude to machine 
> translation - and spell-checking btw - suggests an assumption that a 
> little man is crouching in their computer and that they can insult him 
> into greater cleverness...

I've had occasion to use MT quite a bit...
1) in speeding up translation of documents English <-> French (translation is
not my specialty, but with Bisharat and when working in West Africa it's
something that I've had to do); I find it helpful in letting me focus on
correcting and also because it sets the translated text in a comparable order
with the original (if that makes sense)
2) recently in accessing Chinese language documents on the web - this has been a
real revelation both in terms of the process (I use a motley suite of Word with
Chinese, Systranet online translator, a Chinese character transliterator, and
an online Chinese dictionary, and Google - without all these props my
rudimentary Chinese by itself would not get me anywhere) and what I've been
able to learn; the quality of the computer translations is sometimes atrocious
but still very definitely useful for getting the gist.

Aside from the tech-educator divide you mention and the tech-linguist divide
I've noticed, this sort of disconnect or communication gap is of course well
known in development. Robert Chambers' now classic description of the positive
practitioner and the negative academic is another one, as are examples of
different disciplines/specialties not communicating on common concerns. The
fact that Chambers actually cites previous observations of this sort (forget
his reference offhand) would seem to indicate that such divides between people
in different specialties are not anomalies but pretty much predictable products
of the way systems work. I know that's not much of a revelation, but it would
imply the need to systematically address divide-formation (?) in emerging
fields so that there's not too much dysfunction.

> > Just my 0.02 ...
> Far more than that, Don - thanks for correcting my rant.
> > 
> > Don Osborn
> > Bisharat.net
> Impressive project, from the few pages I browsed! Are you in touch with 
> the Laboratoire d'Analyse et de Technologie du Langage at Geneva 
> university? http://www.latl.unige.ch/french/projets/liste_projets.html 
> for their projects. They are interested in the accessibility aspect (at 
> one poin, some of them were working on a geometry course for blind 
> people). Their secular (start-up) branch is http://www.latl.ch/ , in 
> English, but they are presently jazzing up their pages. Wish they'd stop 
> using frames. Well, the contact page still works, lol.

Thanks for the positive comments and the pointer. Yes I've seen their site but
it was a while back, so it's a good time to check on it again. Access in its
multiple meanings is one of my interest areas - language being one factor - so
perhaps worth touching base with them.

All the best.

Don

Don Osborn
Bisharat.net




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