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Re: fate of IRI working group in IETF

From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2013 09:24:55 -0500
To: SM <sm@resistor.net>, Jiankang YAO <yaojk@cnnic.cn>
cc: public-iri@w3.org
Message-ID: <0CA13BC89072095049B5EF16@[]>

--On Thursday, January 03, 2013 22:17 -0800 SM <sm@resistor.net>

> Hi Jiankang,
> At 18:35 03-01-2013, Jiankang YAO wrote:
>> it is an important work, but why  do few people paritcipate
>> in this WG?
>> is it due to that the importance of this work is not
>> recognized by  every involved person?
> It is difficult to find people with the relevant expertise.
> The people can be busy.  Saying that the work is important
> does not change that.

There are at least two other hypotheses:

(1) Even though there is general agreement that
internationalization is very important, reasonable people can
disagree about what should be internationalized (or localized)
and how.  Several regularly-repeated discussions are of pieces
of that issue.   For example:

 * What constitutes a "protocol identifier" that should
	not be internationalized.  
 * Although it is rarely discussed, it is often been
	observed that, when "meaning" is not important, basic
	Latin characters are understood by most of the world's
	population and can be rendered by most of the world's
	devices.  They are, so far, required by most things that
	are clearly protocol identifiers (such as URI scheme
	names) so that inability to render them is a problem
	regardless of what is done about i18n globally.  From
	that perspective, allowing other character sets globally
	tends to fractionalize the Internet, not unify and
	internationalize it.
 * Some activities are inherently local and a matter of
	localization, not subjects for i18n.  For example
	keyboard mappings are inherently local -- no one serious
	has proposed an "internationalized keyboard" with enough
	keys and shifts to be able to represent all of Unicode
	(or even all abstract letters and digits in Unicode)
	without escape conventions.
 * There is often a useful distinction between a thing,
	the name by which the thing is called, and mechanisms
	that may lead to the thing.  The distinction recently
	drawn in the "new URL standard" thread between URL
	processing and strings that may lead to URLs is a useful
	part of that discussion, but so are the "to map or not"
	discussions about strings that could be construed as
	IDNs and the issues surrounding whether end users really
	use domain names or are (or should be) using search
	engines and other "above DNS" or "non-DNS" approaches.

Those are just examples and each involves tradeoffs but, if
someone examines even one of them and concludes that IRIs are
the wrong solution to the problem (or a solution to the wrong
problem), then they can conclude that IRIs are not particularly
important even if i18n is.

(2) As soon as the IRI WG started down the path of saying "these
are protocol identifiers, mostly important for protocols that
have not yet been defined in URL terms" (note that, while I hope
that is a reasonable characterization of a position, I am not
claiming that it is a consensus one or that it represents the
consensus of the active participants in the WG or of the
community), then the importance of IRIs becomes related to
guesses about protocols not yet designed, not the Internet (or,
especially the Web and URLs) as we know it today.

Those three  reasons -- the two above and the issues of time,
personal or business priority among the experts, and "pain
points" that SM and Martin identifies-- are largely independent
of each other but probably have an additive effect in reducing
the number of people who are enthused about IRIs and willing to
spend major energy on them.

Received on Sunday, 6 January 2013 14:25:27 UTC

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