Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lost in Translation

Recently, I  attended a convention on Free Open Source Software conducted by Free Software Movement of India . The venue for the event was Tech Mahindra campus , located at about 45 minutes distance (seriously cant help .. m used to measure distance in time) . So the first thing that I thought was
Hmm.. may be Mahindra Satyam wants to regain its Satyam status again.
Major part of attendance comprised of lecturers from all over (mostly south) India. Though I am a working software engineer, I attended the event as a student. cause hell... we all are students till death.

The conference was inaugurated by our beloved Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Here is the full speech for those interested. And for those who love one-liners , see the video below. ( I dont know why that quote is not in the full text! )

As they say

That adage about genius being 5 percent inspiration and 95 perspiration - it's true
And so, as was expected , doses and doses of inspiration for using FOSS was being fed to the hungry. While the people on the "Dias" were injecting the 5%, those in the lecture halls were taking care of the 95% .... great split.

There was a project demonstrated which is trying to implement a village based intranet for the rural people...sms gateway .... info portal .... bla bla in indic lang.....voice input ... blaa blaa.....speech processing..... And I was wondering ^*$k .... why torture the suiciding farmers more ! first pay them decent enough. The prof demonstrating it was surprised to see that no-one was asking him any questions for his brilliant ideas and said audince lacked the passion required.

Though I am convinced the Open Source Software / Content is the way to go, I am not sure localization of content is really the way to progress of India as we have so many local languages. About Software Localization , I think translation into AN indian lanuage merely a way to let the illiterate remain one throughout. Yes, translation is effective for you up to an extent ... but how long ... a vast pool of knowledge is scripted in English ... so one day it has to be learnt to expand your knowledge....then why not on day 1 itself? Transliteration however is a much better option . As it does not constrain the knowledge gained into a local language. Well anyways , these are my views.

After all , " All is well , that ends well " .... Seeing the Mayavi Python in action was the most exciting part of the event as Prof. Prabhu Ramachandran from IITB demonstrated 3D visualization with Mayavi and Dr. John Hunter  plotted some awesome 2D graphics with his OS alternative to matlab - Matplotlib. In short, it was an exciting voyage into FOSS.... Thanks to Prof. N.L. Sarda . Prof K.S. Rajan :)