Use of local languages in cyberspace to get a boost
It will function under TDIL programme
The mission is to promote development of World Wide Web
KOCHI: The adaptation of a gamut of web standards to the Indian context, especially those connected with the use of local languages in cyberspace, is expected to get a boost following the opening of an office of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in New Delhi on May 6.
The W3C India Office will function under the aegis of the Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) programme, being implemented by the Department of Information Technology's Human-Centred Computing Division. TDIL has been working on the adaptation of W3C recommendations in India since 2006.
The W3C was founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. It is jointly administered by three host institutions — Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, United States, European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics, France and Keio University, Japan.
The W3C offices in different countries or regions are hosted by an organisation that is vendor-neutral such as a research institution, university department, or technology transfer institution. The TDIL is involved in the research, development, standardisation and spread of language technology in the country, with focus on the 22 recognised Indian languages.
Benefits for all
The W3C says its mission is to promote the development of the World Wide Web to its full potential “by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.” This includes extending benefits accruing from the Web and related technology to all people “whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.”
The formulation of core standards relating to all kinds of technologies related to the web, and even broader approaches relating to its advancement, constitutes a key area of W3C's activity.
The country office is expected to broaden the organisation's base, by involving stake-holders in the region in its activities, help develop relationships with local technology or policy leaders and assist interested organisations in joining its fold.
It also will try to increase the “diversity of organisations” that are involved in its activities, in relation to industry, research, implementers, and user communities, and also promote international education and outreach programmes aimed at enhancing the W3C's profile in the country.
Apart from the Department of Information Technology, a handful of companies are presently among the members of the W3C. Member-organisations, including commercial, educational and governmental entities and individual members are usually those involved in the development or use of web technologies, or their deployment.
Internationalisation or paving the way for the use of web technologies with different languages, scripts, and cultures is a core focal area of the organisation's activities in different parts of the world. In India, language diversity throws up challenges in the development and promotion of web technology.
Understanding and satisfying the linguistic and cultural requirements of different communities, and gaining a better hold over the technological problems deriving from linguistic and structural differences is part of the mission.
Cascading Style Sheets
An example of how internationalisation will help in improving the rendering of web pages in local languages relates to Cascading Style Sheets, which are used to format text, colours and layout in web pages.
The specifications brought out by the W3C have to be adapted to ensure that the use of CSS results in text in Indian languages being rendered properly by browsers.