Tag Archives: Content

In the company of a ninja

It looks like watching the Ninja Assassin hasn’t done Shreyank any good. Else, he would have figured out that it is easy-peasy for a Founder and Chief Ninja like Dimitris Glezos (who is also known as DeltaGamma) to be at Bangalore and, elsewhere. Dimitris paid a surprise visit to Pune yesterday and it was fun. It isn’t always that you get a CEO of a startup provide you with an in-person repeat of his keynote with added wisecracks and side-talks that are too scandalous for a “keynote” 🙂 And, that too, at a fairly crowded Barista. It was awesome.

In fact I wanted to talk with him about how massive the momentum built up by Transifex has been. Just two years ago, in 2007, Tx was a GSoC project within The Fedora Project aimed at looking at managing translations from a developer’s perspective. Today, it is a start-up which is hiring employees, relocating to newer offices, has a foot-print across a significant portion of upstream community projects and, most importantly, has clients willing to pay for customization services and, developer services. Tx isn’t only helping translation communities by allowing them to craft their work in peace – it is keeping developer sanity with the fire-n-forget model of the architecture. I hear that PulseAudio, PackageKit developers are strong supporters of Tx. That is tremendous news. The provocative nature of Tx is also based on the charm that it has been bootstrapped. That should provide hope to developers thinking along the “product” route.

I would say that these two years have done Dimitris good. His focus on the road Tx should take has become more vivid and, he has a deeper insight into the changes he wants to bring about via Indifex. There’s nothing more exciting than keeping a close watch on his team and his company for news that would come up soon. Tx is coming up with a killer set of features in the upcoming releases. That should get the attention of a couple of clients too.

Throughout the afternoon we ended up talking about getting youngsters up to speed to think beyond patches as contributions and, starting tuning their thoughts to products. Dimitris opines that patches are excellent jump-off points but in order to become a valuable contributor, one must start thinking about “architecture”, “design”, “roadmap”, “milestones” and all such issues that form part of the theory classes but never see implementation in real-life scenarios. In addition, there is also the need to inculcate the “CC thinking” in everyday work of creativity – be it code or, content or even be it hardware and standards (the “CC thinking” is a fancy short-hand towards thinking about Open Standards, Open Protocols and so forth. In a somewhat twitter-ish way, we compressed it to a meta-statement we both could relate to and agree with).

Dinner and post-dinner with a couple of us was another story. Having a bunch of hard-core “Fedora” folks in the room creates a passion. Sitting back to savor the flames of discussions and, interjecting with a leading viewpoint to keep the debate flowing is the best way to get action items resolved. Nothing wasn’t touched upon – from the way to get best out of *SCos to mundane stuff like getting feature requests into Tx, OLPC and Sugar, or, talking about the general issues within the IT development community in Greece. And of course, the frequent checks on Wikipedia to validate various points in the argument. We could have done with an offline Wiki Reader yesterday 🙂

I think I finally went to sleep at something around 0200 today – which is impossibly past my standard time. There are photos aplenty, though I don’t know who will be uploading them. There was food, there was coffee, cakes, and, there were friends – in short, a nice day.

2009 would be the Year of …

Og Maciel writes about the possibility of 2009 being the Year of Translations. With the coming-out of awesome tools like Transifex, Damned Lies, Vertimus etc, it sure feels good to be even marginally involved in the process of translations.

Infrastructural pieces coming together ensure that a translation workflow that appeals to all, is easy for the end-user can be put in place with much ease. And, it would also mean a disruptive playing field for startups like Indifex. Making wide open spaces for innovation in translation workflow and infrastructure is an area that is bound to be welcomed by the folks who spend countless hours making applications, desktops and operating systems available in their local languages/locales. They don’t get appreciated often. They get recognized during release times in release notes and the like, but they do keep the engines running and the lights on. This is going to be their year.

I would venture so far as to state that in a trend of “2009 would be the Year of <insert_your_favorite_prediction>” it would be a Year of Content. Free and Open content un-encumbered by restrictive rights and legalese that would be re-distributable, would be informative, would be educational and would be able to bring about a change. Over a period of the last 24 months, methods and tools that enable content creation on Linux desktops have simplified. Especially when it comes to Indian languages. So, there are fonts available (some of them quite elegant), there are keyboard layouts, on-screen keyboards (like Indic OnScreen Keyboard or iok and even Quillpad), input methods, word-lists and like bits that form the user-experience completion when using a Linux desktop to compose content. In sort, the traditional problems in the fields of input-display-printing have been substantially addressed to bring the end-user experience at a level of where it should be easy to just plug-and-create.

There is a wealth of content in Indian languages, starting right from folk-tales that are part of the oral tradition to commercially generated content which needs to start moving into the UTF-8 encoding space. Projects like the OLPC can benefit from the availability of such forms. Work on Indic OCR remains to move forward at a much aggressive pace than what is currently, but there are signs of good things coming out of it. Digitizing data would also enable a lot of content to be archived and made available for consumption.

This is the year that should see a large part of such things happening. The marriage of content creators with the infrastructure developers is something that needs to happen as well. And, this needs to include folks from fields of comparative literature, media studies and the like. Anyone who really does generate content, should be met with and talked to regarding the need to exert themselves to become part of the process. Content already takes in a large chunk of investment outlay for the mobile players and with the availability of easy means of generating content, it would not be far to start thinking about a need to consolidate, find patterns, predict trends.

The convergence of the computing and application prowess of mobile devices, content creation workflows and upswing in the production of Indic language content for the webspace promises to make 2009 an interesting year of innovations.

Season’s Greetings to all.