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Default English Blogging

The language detector is busy chugging its way through this morning's crop of 25,000 weblogs. It just told me it thinks the Drudge Report is in "Middle Frisian". That would explain everything!

As I peek at the foreign blogs accumulating in the crawl index, it occurs to me that life can be full of annoyances if you write a weblog in a language other than English. For example, check out Vita Nova and Shahrzad. They write in mumbo-jumbo, but Blogspot gives each entry a datestamp in English.

A really interesting example is Karma Universe. He uses a Creative Commons license (see lower right), but has to translate the words "some rights reserved" into Dutch, since they only appear in English on the Creative Commons button. And if you look at the "universal" logos to the right of that button, intended to flag which copyright permissions he is granting by default, you'll notice they make some interesting cultural assumptions, too.

This is not intended to pick on the Creative Commons people. They have more of a right than anyone to be parochial, since copyright laws change from country to country. Their materials have good reason to be targeted at an American audience.

But the awkwardness with the CC button nicely illustrates the overall difficulty of creating language-neutral tools and services. Just like security, language support is something you have to build in from the beginning.

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