W3C Internationalization Workshop

Position statement

Vincent Quint, W3C

My main interest in the Workshop is to better understand what new actions the W3C should take to make the Web a better place for people from all cultures and languages.

My background is in Web technologies more than in Internationalization per se, although I got some acquaintance with this area by supervising the I18N Activity at W3C for several years. I am also involved the development of Amaya, W3C's Web client, and I participate to some extent in the actual implementation work. The recent introduction of Unicode support in Amaya made me get a more direct experience of some internationalization issues.

In the recent years, the W3C I18N Activity has mainly focused on making sure that all W3C technologies contain all the features needed to make them used in any language and culture. The results so far are good. It is now technically possible to share information on the Web on a truly global basis. Although this effort must continue for the languages and protocols that are still to come, I think another kind of activity is needed.

The technologies we have now are multiple and some of them are a bit complex. Users need to be trained to use them in the right way, especially when it comes to Internationalization. A good example is a Web page in Arabic that contains some parts in Latin script. I have seen such a page recently, where the writing direction was set at various levels, sometimes in a contradictory way. The dir attribute of XHTML was used, as well as the CSS direction property and some Unicode implicit directional marks. The authors were clearly confused.

There is a need for an important effort of education and outreach, but the way to deploy such an effort in an efficient manner has still to be precisely defined. This is what I am expecting from the workshop.