well, some weeks are better than others, i’d say. this has been a long week at work for a variety of reasons — i think we’ve got a handle on things now, but it’s taken some time.
but there was an interesting, if discouraging, event earlier this week that i’ll describe here. i’ve come to view our incredible language diversity as one of the most amazing parts of the mozilla experience. firefox 2, for example, is now available in 50 or more languages, including all 11 official South African languages. the day we launched, it was available in 37 languages. compare that with microsoft’s launch of IE7, which was in…let me check…oh, right: English. now they’re available in more, but it took some time. we’ve made wide availability in many languages a primary driver for our release schedule, and the implication we’re making is clear: english-speaking users are not the most important users in the world, but are part of a much broader context.
(incidentally, i just looked at our dashboards for this week, and non-english language use continues to make huge gains — english is at 50% this week, down from about 65% of our users a year ago — within a few days from now, we’ll have no single majority locale, happily.)
anyway, as many officially supported versions as we have (the South African versions aren’t), there are many community-contributed builds in the world in a variety of different languages. one new one that’s on our radar this week is a beta version of kurdish — spoken in the region called kurdistan, including kurdish populations in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. (wikipedia link).
for reasons you can read about in the wikipedia article, this has caused a stir on our message boards and e-mail lists — there are exceptionally strong feelings both for and against.
the reason that this is discouraging to me should be obvious: education, access & understanding are major parts (maybe the only parts) of making our world a better place to live. whether or not your neighbor has these things shouldn’t be bad (or even neutral) to you — it should be an imperative. it shouldn’t be a negative to any one person that software exists (in whatever form) for someone else to use.
this has happened to us in other locales — around the world, clearly, language is a proxy for a host of other cultural (and political and military) battles.
but my view is that making software (and other) information and software available to people to use & repurpose however makes sense to them is incredibly important, and getting more so, and i’m proud to be part of an organization committed to it.
one of the folks here pointed out that this is the type of problem we want to have — in other words, the fact that it matters so intensely to people means that what mozilla is doing, and what’s happening on the Internet, is deeply important. but they’re problems nonetheless.
the world feels increasingly small to me. in the past 6 months or so, i’ve been to china, japan and france to do work for mozilla, and am blown away by all the changes afoot.
in related news, this is a neat thing. it’s a site that started by taking interesting US startup/venture blogs and translating them into Chinese — now they’re doing the same thing in reverse, to make it possible for english-speakers like me to read chinese articles about the startup world. completely amazing.
anyone remember what life was like just 10 years ago? the memory for me is fading fast.