To the general public, hardware and software economic roadblocks to Third World equality of access are easy to understand, and thus the worthwhile work of the One Laptop Per Child initiative justifiably receive wide attention. But there are many other initiatives that have been, and continue to be, pursued largely outside public notice. These projects address much more basic infrastructural challenges, and therefore appear less "interesting" to the general public. Yet without this important work, true global equality of Internet and Web access would not only be economically challenging to achieve, but technically impossible as well.
Richard Ishida (ed), W3C Technical Report
Members of the W3C Internationalization Core Working Group have published "Internationalization Best Practices: Specifying Language in XHTML and HTML Content" as a Working Group Note. The document is part of a series and written for HTML content authors working with XHTML 1.0, HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.1, and CSS. Specifying the language of content is useful for a wide number of applications, from linguistically-sensitive searching to applying language-specific display properties. In some cases the potential applications for language information are still waiting for implementations to catch up, whereas in others, such as detection of language by voice browsers, it is a necessity today.
On the other hand, adding markup for language information to content is something that can and should be done today. Without it, it will not be possible to take advantage of any future developments. Applications already exist that can use information about the natural language (i.e., the human, non-programmatic language) of content to deliver to users the most relevant information or styling, based on their language preferences. The more content is tagged and tagged correctly, the more useful and pervasive such applications will become. Language information is useful for things such as authoring tools, translation tools, accessibility, font selection, page rendering, search, and scripting. These applications can’t work, however, if the information about the language of the text is not available. Language information should therefore be specified for the page as a whole, and wherever language changes within the page. In the future there will be other applications for language information, driven by developments in technology. For example, implementations of the CSS3 ‘:first-letter’ pseudo-element will need language information to apply correct styling.
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