RE: Japanese Web pages in Unicode?

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Mon Jul 01 2002 - 07:55:56 EDT

At 06:14 PM 6/28/2002 -0400, Tex Texin wrote:
> Instead we should ask the vendors why they default to these
> code pages for WRITING web pages.

That's a good question. I had the opportunity to discuss the
issue of default encodings in detail with several major
Italian system integrators a few years ago wrt email instead
of web pages. The results might be enlightening.

Italians simply believe that email must ( *must* MUST *MUST*
did I mention MUST) be 7 bit in order to have any chance to
go through to the recipient, despite being presented with an
inbox full of ISO 8859-1 email.

This is ingrained in the culture at the level of a folk tale.
Because it was admittedly once true (before half of Italy was
even born), it is still believed to be true. It is probably
the first thing that every Italian young or old learns about
email, and it is carved in stone. It is the Italian nature
to not shake things up, and if someone tells a newbie to do
email a certain way, it will be done that way forever.

No set of technical tests, including on these SI's own brand
machines no matter how obscure the functionality (all sorts
of wapuros) could turn up an example that could not receive
properly encoded 8bit MIME encoded ISO 8859-1 mail.

Despite that, the true objection, which was ultimately strong
enough to force us to make Italian a special case and use
US ASCII, basically came down to "because if we don't all
our customers will think the product is broken even if it
displays and sends email perfectly well".

The mere fact that an email arrives with headers indicating
the body is encoded in ISO 8859-1 is proof enough to the
average (I am not talking about tech savvy, I mean someone's
grandmother!) Italian email user. If they can read it and
reply to it, but a header filter indicates ISO 8859-1, then
it might as well be spam.

Much as I would like to, based on that experience, I can't
even begin to comprehend what kind of propaganda campaign it
would take to get Italians to use Unicode as the default for

_ Marco :-)

Of course, this message was obtained by changing a few words in Barry
Caplan's message:

        Japan -> Italy
        Japanese -> Italian(s)
        SJIS, SHIFT-JIS -> ISO 8859-1
        ISO-2022-JP -> US ASCII

P.S., we have a proverb in Italy which sounds very MacLuhan-ish: "Tutto il
mondo paese" ("The whole world is like a village", meaning that you find
the same vice in every place).

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Mon Jul 01 2002 - 06:04:16 EDT