[OSM-talk] 26 languages

D Tucny d at tucny.com
Sun Jan 25 07:32:14 GMT 2009

2009/1/25 Colin McGregor <colin.mc151 at gmail.com>

> On 1/24/09, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Lars Aronsson wrote:
> >> After Portuguese and Afrikaans have been added, there are now 28
> >> languages. But of the largest Wikipedia languages, we're still
> >> missing Japanese (5th biggest) and Chinese (12th).
> >
> > Why bother educating the Chinese about OSM when they will be jailed
> > trying to contribute?

Might be best not putting any Indian languages up though, mapping there will
get you jailed, and may be best removing the English too, I wouldn't like to
think what could happen or where you'd be sent if you were spotted doing
something suspicious like walking around with a GPSr, a voice recorder, a
camera and a backpack in at least the US, especially if you looked
'foreign'... There isn't even a great firewall in those locations to protect
people from seeing things they shouldn't ;)

> The answer is simple and obvious, not all Chinese speaking people live
> in China. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and some 11% of the
> population (over 280,000 people) is of Chinese decent, and relevant
> for the likes of a Wikipedia entry, manages to support three daily
> Chinese language newspapers...
> So, for the benefit of oversees Chinese a Wikipedia entry would be a
> good thing (the more mappers the better in my books).
There are 100s of thousands of Chinese students studying abroad... figures
I've seen suggested 120000 in the EU alone in 2007... The US, Canada and
Australia are also common destinations for Chinese students looking to study
abroad, with the US apparently having over 80000 Chinese students in
2007-2008... Of course, there are stats such as this 'The number of people
studying abroad totalled 1.2117 million from 1978 to 2007, among which
319,700 have already returned.' which suggests that between 1978 and 2007
1.2 million people went to study abroad and 900000 haven't returned yet...

So, there are plenty of Chinese people outside China who's first written
language is Chinese...

But, within China, while there has been the obvious press that people have
been fined and expelled for illegal mapping, the stories are mostly
specifically about foreign nationals who've entered China only to perform
surveying, including surveying airports/airbases...

China has massive amounts of effort going into mapping, with billions ($ I
think) being put into projects in recent years to make accurate enough maps
that they can be used with GPS devices... Not all the efforts are state
based though... There is also a lot of mapping for profit going on... GPS
devices are very popular with satnav in car devices very common... A pretty
massive number of brands exist, all competing with very similar products,
map data comes from all over the place and up to date POIs are typically
seen as one of the most important aspects of the data, something especially
relevant considering the rate of change and development... There and lots of
companies involved, all trying to build their own dataset for profit... Some
licensed, but most probably not...

And this is just part of the situation with maps in China...

A report last year some time said that there were over 10000 websites in
China that contained unauthorised maps, huge demand for mapping data and
limited general availability of quality authorised data were I believe cited
as a potential cause...

10 years ago there was not much in the way of publicly available maps, now
there are maps everywhere... even on every street corner, at least in
touristy places... Quality is still an obvious issue... Availability of data
is still an issue, though state data is available more and more and is
becoming more and more open, partly to encourage use of the official state
data in preference to data from other sources...

China's legal system is still growing, maturing and developing, like most
things in China... Things are improving all the time... The place is not at
all like is portrayed in most Hollywood movies, in many ways it's more free,
open and in many cases commercial than you probably imagine...

At the end of the day, for people in China, if the authorities don't want
them to see a site on the internet, it'll get blocked... Wikipedia itself
has been blocked for large amounts of time with the non-chinese versions
coming and going and more recently the chinese version becoming available
and staying available... There is still blocking of certain wikipedia pages
where the content is deemed unsuitable either by the filtering software or
the decision makers that control the filtering rules...

So... If the information about OSM is put on wikipedia in Chinese, there are
millions of people outside of mainland China that could find the translation
useful, there are many more within China that could be interested to read
about it even if they don't then go on to contribute and if it is considered
to be unwanted by whichever people/departments make those choices, it'll get
blocked from the mainland anyway...

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