About this Author
John Yunker is founder of Byte Level Research
and author of the widely acclaimed book, Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies
and editor of Global By Design
He has covered the emerging field of Web globalization for half a decade and has published a wide range of reports dedicated to best practices in Web localization and internationalization.
About this blog
Going Global focuses on the risks and rewards of expanding into new geographic and cultural markets, from Web globalization to international marketing to global usability.
February 28, 2004
Documentum is a developer of well-regarded content management software. It also offers a software package that helps companies manage multilingual Web sites.
And yet the Documentum Web site itself could use a little help in the globalization department. If you visit www.documentum.com, you will see a home page that looks something like this:
Now let's assume we don't speak English and we want to get to, say, the Korean home page. The link to the "global gateway" isn't exactly easy to find for non-English speakers; ideally, the link should be located on the top right-hand side of the page and should include an icon, such as a globe. I realize that many designers may find a globe icon boring, but these icons make a big difference for non-English speakers.
So we find our way to the Korean site, shown below. The major problem I want to highlight should be quite obvious.
Notice the rather prominent chunks of English content. Some of this is unavoidable -- as there are a number of product names, which are almost never translated. Yet there is also a promotion for a Documentum event -- shouldn't this be translated into Korean?
It should, but what we have here is a graphic with embedded text -- and these objects often miss out on the localization workflow. As a rule, embedded text is more time-consuming and resource-intensive to localize than plain text. Some Web developers simply don't have the expertise or tools that will allow them to take a graphic that contains English text and convert it to Asian text.
What's the solution? Simply scale back on your use of embedded text. What Documentum might lose in "flash" it will gain in usability.
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February 27, 2004
Microsoft likes to make a big deal of how global a company it is, and for good reason. The company now makes more money from outside the US than from within. But the company still has a long way to go before it is truly a global company and, as this CNET News article makes clear, the company may face a tough road getting there.
Right now, the company offers its operating system in 47 languages. This is no simple feat -- localizing software into a new language can easily exceed a million dollars in engineering and translation costs. But at 47 languages, Microsoft is still only serving a small portion of the world; there are more than a thousand languages in use today.
As the CNET article points out, most small and emerging markets have been overlooked by the folks at Microsoft.
Enter OpenOffice, an open-source alternative to Microsoft's office software suite. A grassroots effort has been gradually localizing the software for more than 30 languages, with many more on the way -- from Basque to Kinyarwanda (Rwanda).
With open source software, anybody with the time and expertise can assist with software localization. So what we are witnessing are people volunteering their time to do something that Microsoft won't spend a dime on -- creating software for people who don't speak a major language. This is a noble cause and one that will inevitably add to the growing global resentment toward Microsoft.
While I can understand why a company decides that the ROI (return on investment) of software localization doesn't add up for certain markets, I don't understand how Microsoft can justify turning its head, given how many billions of dollars it has stashed in the bank. In one year, the company could localize its Office suite into 100+ languages without breaking much of a sweat, yet it doesn't, and in not doing so it opens the door a little wider to open source software -- software that one day may lead to the downfall of Microsoft as we know it.
PS: If you'd like to join the open source localization effort, go to: 10n.openoffice.org/localization_responsibilities.html
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February 26, 2004
The Pew Global Attitudes Project recently released the results of a study that show remarkable differences between how different age groups (and cultures) view globalization. You can download the complete report here. Itâs an excellent read. Hereâs an excerpt:
Older Americans and Western Europeans are more likely than their grandchildren to have reservations about growing global interconnectedness, to worry that their way of life is threatened, to feel that their culture is superior to others and to support restrictions on immigration. This generation gap is less pronounced in Eastern Europe and is virtually nonexistent in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Nevertheless, Americans and Western Europeans of all ages are less likely than people in other parts of the world to tout their own cultural superiority and are less wary of foreign influence.
Hereâs a graphic that breaks down the numbers. Across every region, the youngest age groups are most enthusiastic about globalization.
English viewed as âmust learnâ language
The following visual illustrates how important learning English is within non-English-speaking countries.
People in the US and Britian were asked how important is is for children to learn an additional language. I find it sad to see such low responses overall, but I am not surprised. Perhaps when the number of Spanish-speaking Americans surpasses 100 million (less than a decade from now) we will see drastically different responses.
Anyway, this report is worth a read. You can download it here.
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From Verizon Wireless to Office Depot, executives have finally awakened to the importance of the Spanish-speaking market within the US. Consider the following stats, compliments of The Cobalt Group:
The US Hispanic population is the fastest-growing demographic group in the
country, doubling in the past 20 years and now representing nearly 40 million people, and 12.5% of the total US population.
Despite the fact that many US Hispanics are bilingual, almost two-thirds of
US Hispanics identified Spanish as the language they are most comfortable
speaking, and 92% of Hispanic adults read, watch, or listen to media in
The Cobalt Group is a Web design and management firm specializing in the automotive retail market. They provided me with these statistics to help promote their recently launched âNitra Spanish eBusiness Programâ at www.spanishnitra.com.
The service consists of Spanish Web design templates and translation support services of up to 500 words per month. Here is a sample site:
According to the Cobalt Group, 84% of Hispanic Internet users indicated they would be more likely to do their automotive shopping online if they could do so in Spanish. This is a compelling number, and I can foresee an increasing number of dealers heeding this advice and looking to The Cobalt Group for translation services.
Another reason for translation agencies to worry?
While the translation industry is clearly booming, the agencies themselves are being commoditized like never before. In the case of The Cobalt Group, no mention is made of any translation agency or the quality of the translation itself. The client only knows that they get 500 words of translation per month. In the eyes of the automotive client, The Cobalt Group IS the translation agency, despite the fact that they farm out the translation work. Perhaps over time clients will demand greater transparency â- wanting to know who the agency is and how it manages quality. If not, translation agencies are in increasing danger of being treated like so many print shops -- where buying decisions are based on pricing and turnaround and little more.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Globalization Vendors | Web Globalization
February 23, 2004
It looks like global warming is going to be a key issue this election season, and for good reason. I, for one, do believe that global warming is happening and is a serious threat.
And it seems that more and more experts feel the same way. This article describes a (leaked) report commissioned by the Pentagon that predicts that:
- Britain will have winters similar to those in current-day Siberia as European temperatures drop off radically by 2020.
- Europe and the United States become "virtual fortresses" trying to keep out millions of migrants whose homelands have been wiped out by rising sea levels or made unfarmable by drought.
- "Catastrophic" shortages of potable water and energy will lead to widespread war by 2020.
- By 2007, violent storms will make large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable and lead to a breach in the acqueduct system in California that supplies all water to densely populated southern California.
Pretty sobering stuff. And I find that every week I read similar stories; this article predicts the end of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it by 2050.
Global warming is like a very big freight train that cannot be quickly stopped. But it can be slowed with enough effort. It is up to the US to stop wishing this problem away, or, worse, arguing that it doesn't exist in the first place.
I believe we can avoid mass-hysteria and mass-destruction, but only if we get started now. We need to make renewable energy a priority for this country and the world. I wonder why the government does not elevate the pursuit of clean fuel and renewable energy to "space race" importance; imagine if the US were to become a world leader in this technology and the jobs that would be created as a result. Imagine how the US would benefit if it could supply the world with low-cost, environmentallly efficient energy -- and the millions of people who will improve their lives and become potential consumers of other American products. How can an American corporation argue against these benefits?
Global warming is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, it is a global issue. I hope our candidates (or at least one of them) takes it to heart and I hope this country begins solving this problem now so that our children don't have to suffer the consequences.
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February 19, 2004
The NY Times published an article yesterday about a relatively new literary journal that publishes only translated prose. It is called Words Without Borders: www.wordswithoutborders.org.
Why is such a journal important? As the journal itself notes:
Few literatures have truly prospered in isolation from the world. English-speaking culture in general and American culture in particular has long benefited from cross-pollination with other worlds and languages. Thus it is an especially dangerous imbalance when, today, 50% of all the books in translation now published worldwide are translated *from English,* but only 6% are translated *into* English.
When so little text is translated into English, publishers tend to limit their resources to only the most famous authors. This journal aims to introduce not only new authors, but a wider range of material. I enjoyed this quote from the Times article:
"We tend to think of translation as great literary work," said Esther Allen, chairwoman of the PEN translation committee and translator of the recently published "Dancing With Cuba," a well-received literary memoir by Alma Guillermoprieto about the Communist revolution there. "Other people are writing history, political analysis and mass-market detective novels. Maybe we should read their junk, too. At least there would be more of an interchange."
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February 15, 2004
The San Francisco Chronicle recently interviewed with Carol Bartz, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Autodesk. Clearly, this is one company commited to taking full advantage of globalization â be it through offshoring jobs or selling products around the world.
You can read the full interview here. Hereâs an interesting excerpt:
My favorite way of explaining Autodesk is that if one of my customers didn't design it, God must have. Because almost anything you look at -- look at this beautiful conference table. The machines that milled this table my customers did.
The best thing that ever happened to our company was the Internet and the globalization that resulted from it. Because now engineers, manufacturers and architects in Atlanta can bid on a stadium project in Shanghai. You not only need to have good authoring of information about how to build that stadium, you also need to know how to move design information around and manage it through the process. That's the next huge wave and a big potential for our company.
Q: Does being out there selling those products and services give you insight into how big off-shoring is going to be?
A: Sure. But let me give you an interesting live example. There's a company in Tennessee run by a couple of guys who design wood pellet stoves. It's a wood stove that burns these pellets that are kind of compressed fake wood. They had the design. They needed to get it manufactured. They couldn't find anybody locally to manufacture it.
They went up on the Web and via the Web found a manufacturer in China. Then through the whole process of sending drawings back and forth and communicating over the Internet, they set up a manufacturing partner in China without even having gone there. They're up to about $5 million in sales. Now this company, which is a customer of ours, wouldn't even exist without the structure they put into place.
Is this just a âwarm and fuzzyâ anecdote that Carol uses to draw attention from the widespread white-collar bloodletting that offshoring has resulted in? Perhaps, but she has a good point about the Internet.
With a Web site and a merchant account, a small company like mine can do business in 100+ countries; weâve sold reports throughout Europe and Asia without opening offices there. With a Web site and a little creative promotion, small companies can compete effectively with their much-larger competitors.
So how Autodesk Web site rate globally?
Just for kicks, I took a look at the Autodesk site. They make use of a splash global gateway, shown below:
Once you select a country, a cookie is stored on your computer with your preference. In this case, I selected United States and I landed here:
The next time I input www.autodesk.com I will be taken directly to the US home page.
Now, letâs just suppose I arrived at the global gateway and clicked on the Japan link instead. I would have been taken to the Japan home page, shown below:
I appreciate the consistent global design that Autodesk is using, but I quickly notice a problem; I donât speak Japanese, and now I don't know how to get back to the US home page, or any English-language Web page. The cookie stored on my computer now thinks that I prefer the Japanese home page and won't take me to that global gateway when I reenter www.autodesk.com. Try it yourself and see.
So now what do I do?
I try clicking on the Autodesk logo, as some site will link the logo to the gateway; no luck with this site. So I try clicking on the Japanese text below the logo, shown here:
Fortunately, that link takes me back to the gateway, where I can reset my cookie by clicking the United States link again. To avoid this problem, Autodesk should use a visual global gateway link on all of its country Web sites in addition to the textual links. I recommend a globe icon; I realize that this icon is often deried by Web designers as a cliche, but in this case, it is a very usable cliche. This icon would have saved me a bit of momentary confusion and will likely save a fair number of Web users frustration.
Overall, Autodesk has invested a fair amount of resources into Web globalization. One way I can tell is that I always seek out the date input and output sections of a site, as it is these places that require the greatest amount of time and resources.
Here is an excerpt from a localized input form:
Notice the use of a Japanese name (as opposed to "email@example.com") to explain how to correctly input an email address. Details like this make all the difference in Web localization.
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February 13, 2004
And now for the sobering aspect of my trip to the Antarctic. The naturalists on board our ship told us that the water temperature in the region has increased a few degrees over the past 50 years. This change seemed trivial at first, but I gradually learned that it was actually quite dramatic. They believe the higher temperature increases the amount of snowfall, causes ice sheets to break loose, and ultimately wreaks havoc on many of the animals.
On our last stop, we visited a colony of Gentoos, shown here.
Apparently these little guys got a very late start on breeding. We hardly saw any chicks, and we were told that most of the ones we did see would not survive very long. Penguins have to wait until the snow melts off their rocky nests before they start breeding. But if there are increased amounts of snow, which our naturalists have noticed over the years, the penguins fall behind schedule. A late start is often fatal for the chicks because they donât get big enough to survive on their own; their parents, who need to molt and stock up on food for their own survival during the rapidly approaching winter, are forced to abandon them. Penguins have a very narrow summer window in which they can breed, and I worry that their window will someday close.
It was a very sad sight. Now I must stress that our naturalists are quick to not to blame these occurrences strictly on global warming, but I think they are being diplomatic.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been covering this issue for some time.
I recently read its 2001 report on "Impacts, Adaptation
and Vulnerability." The section on the polar regions notes:
- In the Antarctic, over the past half-century, there has been a marked warming trend in the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Precipitation in the Antarctic has increased.
- Surface waters of the Southern Ocean have warmed and become less saline.
What does this all mean? Here are the impacts noted in the report:
Substantial warming and increases in precipitation are projected for polar regions over the 21st century by almost all climate models. There are eight key concerns related to the impact of this climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic. Associated with these concerns will be changes to the atmosphere and the oceans that will propagate to other regions of the world:
- Changes in ice sheets and polar glaciers: Increased melting is expected on Arctic glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet, and they will retreat and thin close to their margins. Most of the Antarctic ice sheet is likely to thicken as a result of increased precipitation. There is a small risk, however, that the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will retreat in coming centuries. Together, these cryospheric changes may make a significant contribution to sea-level rise.
- Changes around the Antarctic Peninsula: This region has experienced spectacular retreat and collapse of ice shelves, which has been related to a southerly migration of the January 0Â°C isotherm resulting from regional warming. The loss of these ice shelves has few direct impacts. Projected warming is likely, however, to break up ice shelves further south on the Antarctic Peninsula, expose more bare ground, and cause changes in terrestrial biology, such as introduction of exotic plants and animals.
- Changes in the Southern Ocean and impacts on its life: Climate change is likely to produce long-termâperhaps irreversibleâchanges in the physical oceanography and ecology of the Southern Ocean. Projected reductions in sea-ice extent will alter under-ice biota and spring bloom in the sea-ice marginal zone and will cause profound impacts at all levels in the food chain, from algae to krill to the great whales. Marine mammals and birds, which have life histories that tie them to specific breeding sites, will be severely affected by shifts in their foraging habitats and migration of prey species. Warmer water will potentially intensify biological activity and growth rates of fish. Ultimately, this should lead to an increase in the catch of marketable fish, and retreat of sea ice will provide easier access to southern fisheries.
- Changes in sea ice: There will be substantial loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Predictions for summer ice indicate that its extent could shrink by 60% for a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2), opening new sea routes. This will have major trading and strategic implications. With more open water, there will be a moderation of temperatures and an increase in precipitation in Arctic lands. Antarctic sea-ice volume is predicted to decrease by 25% or more for a doubling of CO2, with sea ice retreating about 2 degrees of latitude.
- Changes in permafrost: Thickening of the seasonally thawed layer above permafrost (active layer) is expected. Modeling studies indicate that large areas of permafrost terrain will begin to thaw, leading to changes in drainage, increased mass movements, thermal erosion, and altered landscapes in much of the Arctic and subarctic. Warming of permafrost, thawing of ground ice, and development of thermokarst terrain have been documented over the past several decades. In developed areas of the Arctic, continuation of such changes may lead to costly damage to human infrastructure.
- Changes in Arctic hydrology: The hydrology of the Arctic is particularly susceptible to warming because small rises in temperature will result in increased melting of snow and ice, with consequent impacts on the water cycle. There will be a shift to a runoff regime that is driven increasingly by rainfall, with less seasonal variation in runoff. There will be more ponding of water in some areas, but peatlands may dry out because of increased evaporation and transpiration from plants. In some areas, thawing of permafrost will improve infiltration. An expected reduction in ice-jam flooding will have serious impacts on riverbank ecosystems and aquatic ecology, particularly in the highly productive Arctic river deltas. Changes in Arctic runoff will affect sea-ice production, deepwater formation in the North Atlantic, and regional climate. A major impact would result from a weakening of the global thermohaline circulation as a result of a net increase in river flow and the resulting increased flux of freshwater from the Arctic Ocean.
- Changes in Arctic biota: Warming should increase biological production; however, the effects of increased precipitation on biological production are unclear. As warming occurs, there will be changes in species compositions on land and in the sea, with a tendency for poleward shifts in species assemblages and loss of some polar species. Changes in sea ice will alter the seasonal distributions, geographic ranges, patterns of migration, nutritional status, reproductive success, and ultimately the abundance and balance of species. Animals that are dependent on sea iceâsuch as seals, walrus, and polar bearsâwill be disadvantaged. High-arctic plants will show a strong growth response to summer warming. It is unlikely that elevated CO2 levels will increase carbon accumulation in plants, but they may be damaged by higher ultraviolet-B radiation. Biological production in lakes and ponds will increase.
- Impacts on human communities: Climate change, in combination with other stresses, will affect human communities in the Arctic. The impacts may be particularly disruptive for communities of indigenous peoples following traditional lifestyles. Changes in sea ice, seasonality of snow, and habitat and diversity of food species will affect hunting and gathering practices and could threaten longstanding traditions and ways of life. On the other hand, communities that practice these lifestyles may be sufficiently resilient to cope with these changes. Increased economic costs are expected to affect infrastructure, in response to thawing of permafrost and reduced transportation capabilities across frozen ground and water. However, there will be economic benefitsâincluding new opportunities for trade and shipping across the Arctic Ocean, lower operational costs for the oil and gas industry, lower heating costs, and easier access for ship-based tourism.
I agree that you can't blame the death of a penguin chick purely on an SUV, but I also believe that extra pollution in one part of the world does have an effect on other parts of the world. In America, we make a very big deal about second-hand smoke; we still have a ways to go before we make global second-hand smoke a priority.
Click here for more on Antarctica
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February 7, 2004
I was fortunate to spend 10 days in Antarctica recently. It was an experience that I havenât quite shaken, and probably never will. Frankly, I still canât quite believe I was there.
The trip opened my eyes to a few sobering issues related to globalization, which I will write about shortly. For now, I simply had to share a few photosâ¦
One of many icebergs we saw - note the Zodiak in the distance. I would have estimated this 'berg to be 60' above the water. We saw some icebergs that looked quite a bit taller. You're not supposed to get too close to them because they have a sudden tendency to tip over; we were allowed to go closer to these icebergs because they were grounded.
I didn't think I would be much of a penguin fan, until I saw them. First of all, they're quite noisy and always seem to be stirring up fights with one another - I enjoyed the drama. These penguins are Gentoos. Notice the rock piles they sit on - these rocks are VERY important to these birds as they keep the chicks elevated from the wet snow and guano. So they spend quite a bit of time building these nests and occasionally stealing rocks from one another, leading to yet more drama!
And these are Chinstrap penguins, named for the little straps below their beaks. The penguins weren't too terribly concerned about us humans. Since penguins have no predators on land, they don't have much reason to be concerned. Their predators wait for them in the water, like Orcas and Leopard seals, which we were also fortunate to see.
I found it nearly impossible to get a decent picture of the whales we saw. Just below the surface here are two Humpback whales - note the white fin.
Landing on Deception Island. This was a very eerie place - with remnants of a whaling operation. They told us that up to 2 million whales were killed in the Southern Ocean.
"Fast ice" below the Antarctic Circle. Fast ice is what they call the solid layer of ice that develops over the water. They docked the boat alongside the ice and let us off the ship for a stroll. After a week on a boat, you learn to take advantage of every landing you get.
Before there is fast ice, there is pack ice.
And one more iceberg, in foggy Paradise Bay.
Click here for more on Antarctica
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February 6, 2004
I'm getting caught up after a very long trip and came across a few interesting items worth mentioning:
* From the law firm Baker & McKenzie:
As of March 1 2004, it will become possible to apply for the registration of domain names containing special Hungarian characters (Ã¡,Ã©,Ã,Ã³,Ã¶,o,Ãº,Ã¼,u). However, this will only be useful for Hungarian language websites aimed at Hungarian readers.
* Tex Texin offers an excellent resource on "currency internationalization": http://www.xencraft.com/resources/multi-currency.html
* Software firm PeopleSoft signed a deal with localization firm SDL for "on demand" translation across all 24 country Web sites. While I haven't spent much time reviewing the sites, it appears that PeopleSoft is wisely using a consistent global design across countries. I hope to speak with them to learn more.
* And also from Baker & McKenzie:
Afilias, a global provider of Internet domain name registry services, will launch the first registrations of German domain names with umlauts in the '.info' domain at the end of February 2004 (a few days before the German domain registry services are expected to launch). The move will allow users of the German language to register words containing umlauts (Ã¤, Ã¶, Ã¼) without having to refer to the ASCII code for "ae", "oe" and "ue".
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The UCLA World Internet Project released findings from a recent survey of more than a dozen countries.
Key findings include:
â¢ Television viewing is lower among Internet users than non-users in all of the surveyed countries.
â¢ Information on the Internet is viewed as generally reliable and accurate by a large percentage of users in most countries.
â¢ Surprisingly high levels of online use among the poorest citizens in all of the survey countries â in spite of major divisions in Internet use between the richest and the poorest.
â¢ Important effects on social, political, economic, and religious life in urban China, where the worldâs largest population finds increased ability to reach out to others, in spite of government restrictions.
For more information, visit: http://ccp.ucla.edu/pages/internet-report.asp
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