Thump! Thump! Is this thing on?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/08/17 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

A question came to myself and a few others the other day, about how to make people more aware of international support in Windows. You know, how to evangelize the area.

My first thought was indeed the title of this post. I mean, I'm no Robert Scoble, but I seem to have enough readers here to indicate that even if it isn't fashionable to actually read all the dreck I write, it is at least fashionable to look at it once in a while. Does this blog not count as a form of International Evangelism in various MS products, mostly Windows and the .NET Framework?

Now I can hardly hope to cover everything that needs coverage given the primary way to inspire me to post something (anything!) is simply to interest me in it, and clearly my interests have four flaws in this regard:

In short, the simple truth is that Mikey don't scale, and even if I did, I am hardly the ideal mouthpiece from a corporate standpoint (and I am paranoid enough to believe that at least one person reads every post religiously looking for a fireable offense!).

And even if I did scale, the fact is that not everyone reads blogs. They are not the one true answer to the generic question here.

So the real question comes in -- how to get people interested in the most important topic, if not in then at least for, the world -- what would International Evangelism look like, if there were an effort to handle it in a more scalable manner? If some attempt were made in terms of process and resources to try to tackle the issue of International Awareness?

As I am often wont to do these days with such a question, I thought I'd see if anyone out there had any thoughts on the matter. How do you make people more aware of a feature that works best when people do not even notice it is there, when everything they try to do in whatever language they do it in simply works?

What do you think?


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Shoshannah on 17 Aug 2006 1:15 PM:

Well, I think the problem of "international awareness" is not limited to MS Windows.
One of my pet peeves is that so many times it seems software groups try to re-invent the wheel when in comes to i18n (and in my case-bidi) issues.

On how to solve it?
Well, blogs are a good start (and I'm thinking about opening an English blog about i18n/bidi in addition to the Hebrew blog I already have).

Another thing would probably be to sneak articles into magazines that deal with software dev and even more- the software business (after all, so much of the software business comes from outside the US/UK).

Michael S. Kaplan on 17 Aug 2006 1:20 PM:

A colleague who had initially offered to translate portions of my old web site into Hebrew actually had to beg off after three pages -- she said my "parenthetical" style simply did not translate well into Hebrew. :-)

Tom Gewecke on 17 Aug 2006 1:45 PM:

I would consider MS, which at least has its "Dr. International," home free in terms of international awareness compared to other platforms like  the Mac. The general lack of info for the latter inspired me to put up a site devoted to the issue over 5 years ago:

I can't say I've ever detected much interest.  Only  a tiny  proportion of users seem to ever want info on working in more than one language, and Apple has never expanded its own info support.

Michael S. Kaplan on 17 Aug 2006 8:30 PM:

Of course the problem is also when end users want to do stuff and they do not know how, also... right?

Richard on 21 Aug 2006 9:42 AM:

>  International Evangelism

This could cover three things:
1. Why
2. What
3. How

However, one could argue that if developers (or more specifically "product managers"/marketing/... -- those who decied what is implemented) get #1, then the others are just a matter of some check lists and links to where the detail is.

Like many things, once i18n has been accepted as needed, it is done (or at least try to). Making the business case (and CBA) to put it on the agenda is the real challenge.

Michael S. Kaplan on 21 Aug 2006 10:18 AM:

Hi Richard,

Yes, I agree with that (especially the overriding importance of #1 here), but to convince people of #1, you have to have a lot of #2, and once you have #1 via lots of examples in #2, you definitely have to have the answers (more #2 and lots of #3, with occasional additional #1 and #2 to justfy the directions you take through #3), if you want to have any credibility, I mean).

So you pretty much have to have all three to have any credibility in being an "international awareness" provider, right?

Michael S. Kaplan on 21 Aug 2006 10:25 AM:

Or perhaps one could argue that "international evangelism" has as a primary goal a marketing role, which must have the following:

a) A ton of the WHY
b) heavy index value into redirecting to WHAT and HOW

In other words, WHAT and HOW could be thought of as more crucial in the "what it points to" and WHY as "what it is" ?

Would that have sufficient credibility? Or would that be looked at as having too much sizzle and not enough steak?

Richard on 22 Aug 2006 6:00 AM:

> a) A ton of the WHY
> b) heavy index value into redirecting to WHAT and HOW

Yes. The evangelism is all about awareness and buyin, a lot of the how is out there (notably in this blog). Getting the decision makers to do it is the challenge (everyone speaks English after all, you just need to speak slowly and loudly :-)).

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