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June 19, 2006

Subtitling vlogs

.. and other online video, is being encouraged via dotSUB.com.

The site provides a tool for adding real time text to videos as subtitles. And is being pushed as subtitling film in a native language, then for it to get translated into other languages via written text. I've not tried out this site yet, but one hopes that the option is there to keep subtitles in the original language. No facility for signed language translation, yet. However, there is in a sense a recording or "translation" from audio to a visual means, and encouragement to do so for wider means provides access to those whose ears are broken(!)

However, from a minority language perspective, one has to applaud this site, going against the tide of English being a killer language. Through the use of the net, therein lies the pressure to use and communicate in English. This expectation lends nothing but weight to the suppression of minority languages, and the threat for these to become extinct.

Each time we lose a language, we lose a window in the understanding of humanity, its culture and literally how the brain processes information. The loss of a language, cannot simply be reacquired, languages are thousands of years in the making carrying the weight of historical and cultural nusances. Once lost, they can never be brought back. For this reason alone, tools such as this needs to be promoted widely.

June 14, 2006

Brits subsidising the BBC for an international audience

As any Brit knows, the BBC is funded by the tv licence, which we have to fork out annually if we receive any tv broadcast (nevermind if we want to watch BBC or not). All this money goes into Auntie Beeb's pocket, which does what it likes with. The BBC has warned, if we watch tv programmes via the net, then the place where we are viewing them, has to have a licence. It doesn't matter if you don't actually watch, a machine with a broadcast card will suffice. Think about the places where this could happen, workplaces, an internet cafe, picking up random wifi in a concourse lounge. Is the BBC effectively saying we have restrain outselves from browsing, until we check out if someplace has that bit of paper? What happens if you take a laptop with a broadcast card, to someplace with no bit of paper? How is the BBC going to monitor all this? Does it have power to make private internet companies disclose the physical address of IP numbers, against its statistics? Is it going to check for cookies in a computer? If the latter, what happens if you own a laptop, accessed your tv in a place with a licence and subsequently went to a place that did not. How do you prove this, will they literally have to marry IP numbers with downloads? How do they sift through their statistics? This appears to be saying, its not just about tv content viewed over a broadcast card, but tv watched over the net.

Their bespoke statistics to measure site traffic was launched this week, where the BBC said that off the shelf packages did not suffice. Perhaps the publicity for this package conveniently forgot to mention what it was really for. Apart from its pictures, is really monitoring people 'turning on the tv', and an army of heavies in waiting, to cart you off to court. What pisses me off about this, is the international audience that BBCi attracts, who all get to watch BBC content for free, with other countries besides the UK heavier net users. No need for them to live in fear, and perhaps a modern day version of BBC World Service? Modern World Service or not, the BBC's bandwidth (read servers, space for the services plus electric to run them) the UK licence payer has to subsidise the rest of the world. Furthermore, if a Brit accesses the same content and no bit of paper, we end up in court. Why do Brits have to pay to maintain a service so someone in some other country can access content? Granted, developing countries could benefit from, and one is happy to support this, but what about the developed nations?

Are licence payers actually happy for their money to be used in this manner? Should we just be proud that the BBC is in effect being an international flagship for quality standard and impartiality?

Bottom line though, is there the emergence of a two tiered internet, for Brits. Whatever happened to a place accessible for all?