Saturday, June 18, 2005

Crossing barriers with the help of the Blogosphere & Internet

I was pleasantly surprised to find Sybilla leaving a comment in my earlier post (which was linked to hers). Sybilla even posted a greeting at her blog. She says:
I’m a librarian (well… kind of) who blogs about all sorts of stuff relating to new technologies and developments in information and education.

Now I know her name, as well as what she blogs about! She also wrote:
Aldus Ivan Chew oftewel Rambling Librarian over een post op mijn weblog. Leuk dat Ivan mij ontdekt heeft!

I was curious what that meant in English. Thanks to the Internet, I looked up the words from two Dutch/ English dictionaries, and -- this was really cool -- two online text and web page language translation services!

[*Links are at the bottom of this post. I've since added the URLs of the online translation services under "Useful Links" at my blog sidebar.]

I think Sybilla wrote the following (please correct me if I'm wrong, Sybilla):
"Thus, Ivan Chew or RamblingLibrarian came across a post on my weblog. Nice that Ivan discovered me".

Just yesterday, I learnt about a blog (in English) from an Argentinean librarian, Edgardo (Log of a Librarian). Reading his first post reminds me -- once again -- that librarians world-wide share common interests and ponder over similar issues.

Before I blogged, the only way I met overseas librarians was from attending conferences (and I didn't attend that many). There were also the library-related listservs but you don't really get to know your counterpart from reading their listserv postings.

It's so much different with blogs, as any blogger can tell you.

For one, you get to know more people. Second, reading the blog posts gives you some insights into the values and thinking of that person. That's not to say you'd really know a person inside out. But you definitely get a better sense of whether you can identify with that person or not.

I think at present, the main barrier in the Blogosphere is Language. For instance, I'd like Sybilla to blog in English so that I understand what she writes, but that's like asking me to blog in say, Mandarin and Dutch and Malay etc.

However, even that barrier is slowly being crossed with the help of free online translation services. Not perfect translations but good enough for me to understand Sybilla's posts, and leave intelligent comments (at least I think they were intelligent).

We might see browsers incorporating them (like how Google search is incorporated into Firefox). And why not even library OPACs even, and e-book readers.

And maybe it's not too farfetched to think that we would soon see portable translation devices as ubiquitous as mobile phones, being carried and used when people travel.

* These were really useful to translate and cross-reference the words:
All sites last accessed on 18 Jun 05.



  1. In a way you are right when you say I should be blogging in English, Ivan. It would mean a far bigger reach for my blog. On the other hand, it would mean that lots of people in the Netherlands might not get the point of what I am blogging about and these people are my first and most important audience.

    I have been considering blogging in both English and Dutch but that would mean putting so much more time in it...

    As for meeting people in your own profession through the blogosphere: I couldn't agree more. It's very satisfying indeed. We'll keep in touch, I'm sure!

  2. Just to tell you I'm following your blog from France for a while, and to confirm I share the same concern about blogging in english as well as I do in french : as Sybilla, I haven't found time enough yet...
    Thanks for blogging !

  3. I'm glad that Sybilla and Marlene are blogging in their languages - otherwise there would be even less content in Dutch, French, and so on, on the Net :)

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Marlene. From France. Excellent!

    Hi CW, I'm not saying liblogarians like Sybilla and Marlene should only blog in English. True, they blog for their primary audience (just like I don't want to blog in Mandarin -- which would take me ages to write, btw). My suggestion is that selected blog posts could be in English. That might make their blogs a little inclusive.

    I'm using AltaVista's translation serive to read their blogs, but it isn't the same. :)

  5. BTW, the AltaVista translator seems to do a very good job translating French to English, but not so clear for Dutch.


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