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Re: Avoiding Cultural Influences

From: Nir Dagan <nir@nirdagan.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 01:27:58 +0300 (Israel Daylight Time)
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
cc: kynn@idyllmtn.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.WNT.4.10.9906150058440.-799443@uymfdlvk>
On Mon, 14 Jun 1999, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> Is it _possible_ for someone from a particular culture to avoid
> writing things from their perspective?  If so, is it _desirable_
> that authors deliberately do this?

Your article makes the point that writing simple English and using images
will make one's site more international. I disagree. 
Even fully translating a site won't work without taking into account
cultural differences. Doing international business through the web is 
technologically easyer, but it cannot be accomplished trivially.

> >From a writer's standpoint (I'm not really one, but given 36
> hours in a day, I'd become one), each author has a specific
> "voice", a unique viewpoint from which she is writing. That
> is part of the creative process -- part of what makes the
> writer herself worth reading.  And a factor in that unique
> viewpoint will undoubtedly be the her cultural background.

Indeed. I was thinking more from a business point of view.
When I try to sell my old car, I compromize my artistic freedom,
and don't argue with my customers on irrelevant issues such as 
politics. This doesn't make my car less interesting to the potential

> Is it desirable, in the name of "cultural correctness", to
> homogenize all writings, and risk eliminating that unique
> viewpoint that she's trying to present?  

Why homogenize? just use the simplest and clearest language 
appropriate for the intended audiance. There is some guideline like that
in the WCAG1.0. I was thinking more of doing business (in a
commercial site) rather than any sort of "correctness".  

If it's desirable,
> is it _possible_?  How does she gauge the effect her culture
> has had upon her, without being an expert in every society
> on Earth?  How will she know if there is someone in a far-
> off country who would not understand her choice of
> metaphors?

Exactly my point. Writing simpler English and using images 
for navigation won't make one's site much more useful internationally.
Translation is not enough either. A localized version of a commercial 
site must be developed by (or at least with) people of the locality.  

Last thing, I did not claim that you presented religion negatively, 
but that you critized the position of Nielsen on images in a way that 
may be misunderstood as critizing religion.

Nir Dagan
Received on Monday, 14 June 1999 18:34:45 UTC

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