Re: FW: Making the case for Unicode

From: Donald Z. Osborn (
Date: Mon May 15 2006 - 21:42:31 CDT

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    It would be really interesting to know more about the thinking behind IT's
    stance - do they see Unicode as a kind of "metric system" that you can more or
    less safely ignore in the US except for specialized markets? Is there a concern
    that text stored in Unicode will use up more disk space? Are they aware that
    Unicode is also ISO-10646 (noting that B&D has made a point to register
    compliance with ISO-9001 "certification of quality manufacturing and design
    systems" and ISO-14001 "environmental management systems certification" - point
    being that Unicode is more than an option, it is a standard)?

    It may be that in certain corporate cultures that there is a lack of
    understanding of Unicode - curious in this case that the IT section is the one
    digging in its heels. My own interest focuses on a very different area - that
    of use of Unicode in Africa instead of legacy 8-bit fonts that are mutually
    non-intercompatible - but the common thread is that anyone who ignores Unicode
    limits their participation in the evolving internet and computing more

    I'll append below an excerpt from something written by Arthur C. Clarke on folks
    who "don't get it" with regard to new technologies. Although the examples might
    be more apropos in an argument with an IT section that is stalling on adopting
    desktop computers since "we never had to use those before," it's still a fun
    short read...

    Don Osborn

    "When the news of Alexander Graham Bell's invention reached Britain, the
    Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office exclaimed loftily: 'The Americans have
    need of the telephone-but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.' That is
    what I call a failure of imagination. Here, in contrast, is a failure of nerve,
    based on the same example. When the mayor of a certain American city heard
    about the telephone, he was wildly enthusiastic. 'I can see the time,' he
    exclaimed, 'when every city will have one.' What would he have thought, could
    he have known that one day many individuals would have half a dozen. . . .

    "Quite recently I came across another example of a comic failure, by a man
    determined not to be outguessed by the future. Around the end of the last
    century, the president of the Carriage Builders Association of Great Britain
    lectured his fellows on the subject of the newly invented motor car. 'Anyone
    would be a fool,' he said, 'who denied that the motor car has an important
    future. But he would be an even bigger fool if he suggested that it would have
    any impact on the horse and carriage trade.' ... "

    Arthur C. Clarke, Forward to Ervin Laszlo's _Macroshift: Navigating the
    Transformation to a Sustainable World_ The Official Report of The Club of
    Budapest (2001)

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