Re: http charset labelling

Peter Paul Sint (
Tue, 6 Feb 1996 04:06:51 +0100

Message-Id: <v01530504ad3c6b9c399c@[]>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 04:06:51 +0100
To: Masataka Ohta <>
From: (Peter Paul Sint)
Subject: Re: http charset labelling

>> >So, the available choices of representation on our namecards are:
>> >
>> >     1) pure ASCII
>> >     2) a few % notations embedded in ASCII
>> >     3) a lot of % notations
>> >     4) MIME QP with charset labelling
>> >
>> If you look even closer, you can see than browsers
>> display this as junk.
>Such behaviour is unavoidable and is the reason why localization is
>no good.
>                                                Masataka Ohta

At one time I defended the use of capital letters against (more expensive)
use of line printers which included lower case letters.

Today I know I was wrong: Computers should serve the people and not
an international standard, technical appropriateness, or an abstract demand
for international brotherhood.

For some people - especially international active ones -, an international
option is fine. But for many it is a natural demand to be spoken to in
their national language (and char sets).
Why should a Japanese company not use Kanji identifiers, while speaking to
Japanese customers? I assume that in not too distant futures computers will
equipped with local fonts everywhere and additionally may switch to an
international representation (probably English - ASCII for the foreseeable
future). Even more: it will be easy to get localizations to every language
everywhere (e.g. by downloading JAVA applets). This - and further changes
in the standards will make localized DNS easy.

But for international distribution you will use a second set of addresses
(forms, brochures, mailings, web-pages). You use today business cards with
Japanese (Chinese, Hindi, Arabic ...) on one side - English (or any other
language of a business partner) on the other. And normally you will not
send Japanese PR documents (or only your address in a local font) to
customers abroad.

An international language (English, Esperanto, ASCII, OSI ... ) has its
advantages. But SOME people like native forms to express themselves (or to
influence potential customers). We should provide them with this choice.
Technically there may even exist an underlying ASCII structure (or
Interlingua ...) - but _invisible_ to the user.

If a browser displays junk it is mostly the fault of the browser - not
necessarily of the people trying to do what is natural to them.

All this has a cost - in money, in time, in training, in hardware etc. But
creating environments which provide many (varied) ways to express oneself
and to communicate with each other is a useful way to employ the unempoyed.
Show multilingual documents to correspondents in the language(s) they
Who pays for it: the sender or the receipient of a message, depends on who
benefits most of providing or receiving the correct information.

Peter Paul Sint    (
Research Unit for Socio-Economics, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Kegelgasse 27, A-1030 Wien, Austria.
Phone:(+431) 712 21 40 - 36   Fax: (+431) 712 21 40 - 34