On Jan 3, 2009, at 17:05, Dan Brickley wrote:

But perhaps a more practical concern is that it unfairly biases things towards popular languages - lucky English, lucky Spanish, etc., and those that lend themselves more to NLP analysis. The Web is for everyone, and people shouldn't be forced to read and write English to enjoy the latest advances in Web automation.

Some languages are higher in the pecking order than others when software development is prioritized, and RDFa cannot level the playing field here.

Suppose there's a use case that can be satisfactorily addressed by applying NLP heuristics to content for the top-tier languages. Even if there were an RDF mechanism for addressing the same use case without relying on natural language, software aimed for serving the top-tier languages would still do the NLP thing for the use case. Thus, the development of the parallel RDF-based solution would be borne by the communities using the other languages. If the other languages can't get the users of the top-tier languages to use the same technical solution, they are still at a disadvantage even if an alternative technology stack is theoretically possible, because most software development effort goes into what makes sense for the top-tier languages without the results being applicable also for the other languages.

Instead of bearing the cost of developing a totally alternative technology stack for the other languages without benefiting from any spillover from the effort done for the top-tier languages, it makes more sense to invest the effort into building upon the reusable parts already developed for the top-tier languages.

(Quick case study about language-sensitive technology adoption and markets: When movable type was developed, a *subset* of the alphabet used for German--the native language of printing press suppliers--was adopted for Finnish. Today, hundreds of years later, digital font availability for Finnish is better than font availability for languages of comparable installed base that adopted *extensions* for the alphabet used for German or that used a totally different script. That is, NIH *still* hasn't caught up with the first-mover advantage as far as type goes.)

Henri Sivonen

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