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The Internet Shifts East

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the lots-of-proxy-servers dept.

The Internet 447

Logic Bomb writes: "The San Francisco Chronicle has an article discussing the World Intellectual Property Organization's prediction that in less than 10 years, Chinese will be the most widely-used language on the web. Assuming the Internet becomes a truly global entity, this is an obvious (and mathematically correct) conclusion. On the other hand, the implementation of the Internet in places without certain civil liberties provides an interesting challenge to typical Western (idealist) notions about what the Internet does for society. Would you even consider the average wealthy Chinese citizen with online access truly 'on the Internet'? And how is the Internet supposed to draw people together when the same old language barrier still exists?"

cancel ×

447 comments

"East" ? (3, Funny)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736370)

Isn't China west from San Francisco ?

Re:"East" ? (-1, Funny)

The WIPO Troll (267426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736403)

Yes, but it's also east of San Francisco. Just a hell of a lot further away. (You are aware we live on a, um, sphere, right?) I believe the article was talking in terms of hemispheres, not direction out from a certain city. Ass-munch.

Oh, my God, I just defended a Slashdot article. A Timothy Slashdot article. Time to kill myself, excuse me a moment...

We don't live on a sphere... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736484)

...moron.

Re:"East" ? (2, Funny)

hatchet (528688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736413)

Well.. it's a matter of perspective. We now know that only speed(of light) may be absolute so in the matter of fact.. china is also north and south of san francico and 5km away if you are able to bend space-time:)

Re:"East" ? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736416)

Is it me or did the title illusively (subliminally) read "Internet Shit Feast" ???

Re:"East" ? (1, Redundant)

Gangis (310282) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736442)

Usually when we refer to east and west, imagine the world being cut vertically at the international date line (Between Hawaii and Japan, dead center in the pacific ocean, where if the date in California is a Friday, west of the date line would be Saturday) and folded out. You will see the Americas at the left, and Europe in the middle, with the Orient at the right. That, my friends, is where "east and west" comes from.

Re:"East" ? (-1)

Retarded_One (518093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736567)

Actually, my darling little dipshit, it comes from the Catholic/Orthodox schism in europe BAK IN DA DAY. Everything aligned with Rome was the West, everything under Byzantine rule was the east. Because we don't chinamen as much as we dont like greeks, they became 'the far east', etc.

I wonder if... (1)

cscx (541332) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736372)

One can make the generalization that German is the most widely used language in Internet porn [slashdot.org] ...

fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736373)

fp

RLC RULEZ j00!!!!! FJEERE!!!!!

Your waist is small, but your curves are kickin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736375)

And I'm thinkin' bout stickin'.

net-speranto (2, Funny)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736377)

J0 3570Y 4 N371Z3N0 comeon, we're already halfway there towards a language that everybody on the planet understands equally poorly. l33t-sp33k can be the lingua franka of the digital age.

Re:net-speranto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736508)

leet-speek is the new 35P3R4NT0

Re:net-speranto (-1)

Anonymous Pancake (458864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736520)

shut up

Language barrier (2, Interesting)

magicslax (532351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736378)

One of the great Geek Goals of science fication has been on the fly translation. If technology continues to improve as quickly as it has, I predict real time, accurate (eh....relatively) language conversion for www material and perhaps even instant messaging type applications.

A growing Chinese user base and the currently massive English speaking web community would certainly create a market for such an app.

There may be a lot of tea in China... (1)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736380)

...but unless we start making a strong move towards IP6 in the not-so-distant future, there won't be enough IPs for that many people.

The highest block released now is 220/8, which is in the hands of APNIC. :) Four more Class A's left in Class C space!

-A.G.-

Re:There may be a lot of tea in China... (2, Informative)

tin_the_fatty (464704) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736457)

Having used a prepaid-dialup-top-up ISP card in Southern China a few weeks back, I can confirm that the dialup server gives out non-routable IP numbers (i.e. 192.168.X.X), and I expect most ISPs in China to do the same thing regarding dialup and ADSL users.

So, yes I agree we would be better off going IPv6, but no we could make do for a few years to come.

Well, it may mean we have this... (1, Funny)

TDScott (260197) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736381)

ÚÒÚ!

(That's Babelfish's Chinese translation of First Post.)

Re:Well, it may mean we have this... (-1)

The WIPO Troll (267426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736394)

Which your poast was not. Haw haw.

Surely, but.. (2, Interesting)

Zarathustra.fi (513464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736383)

Ni hao,

statistically speaking it might be, but I believe all the business is still being made with plain English, and a normal western surfer won't notice the difference in his daily net chores.

Maybe a lot of computers in the Internet reside inside the Chinese borders, but what I hear their firewalling policies etc. somewhat limit access and thus any cultural influence through the Internet.

So, will this only be an interesting sidenote in the history of the Internet?

Re:Surely, but.. (1)

cscx (541332) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736388)

Maybe a lot of computers in the Internet reside inside the Chinese borders, but what I hear their firewalling policies etc. somewhat limit access and thus any cultural influence through the Internet.

Right. I believe that almost all non-government connections in China have to go through proxy servers. But, I think some other countries do this as well (the UAE? correct me if I'm wrong)...

Snot it! Snot it! Snot it hard! (-1)

The WIPO Troll (267426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736385)

By The WIPO Troll [slashdot.org]

CmdrTaco: You sit here, dear.

CowboiKneel: All right.

CmdrTaco (to Waitress): Morning!

Waitress: Morning!

CmdrTaco: Well, what've you got?

Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and snot [slashdot.org] ; egg, bacon and snot; egg, bacon, sausage, and snot; snot, bacon, sausage, and snot [slashdot.org] ; snot, egg, snot, snot, bacon, and snot; snot, sausage, snot, snot, bacon, snot, tomato, and snot [slashdot.org] ;

Slashdot Crew (starting to chant): Snot, snot, snot, snot...

Waitress: ...Snot, snot, snot [slashdot.org] , egg, and snot; snot, snot, snot, snot, snot, snot, baked beans, snot, snot, snot...

Slashdot Crew (singing): ...Snot! Lovely snot [slashdot.org] ! Lovely snot [slashdot.org] !

Waitress: ...or Lobster Thermidor au Crevette with a Mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and snot.

CowboiKneel: Have you got anything without snot [slashdot.org] ?

Waitress: Well, there's snot [slashdot.org] , egg, sausage, and snot, that's not got much snot in it.

CowboiKneel: I don't want any snot!

CmdrTaco: Why can't he have egg, bacon, snot [slashdot.org] , and sausage?

CowboiKneel: That's got snot [slashdot.org] in it!

CmdrTaco: Hasn't got as much snot in it as snot, egg, sausage, and snot, has it?

Slashdot Crew: Snot, snot, snot, snot [slashdot.org] ! (crescendo through next few lines)

CowboiKneel: Could you do the egg, bacon, snot [slashdot.org] , and sausage without the snot then?

Waitress: Urgghh!

CowboiKneel: What do you mean "Urgghh?" I don't like snot [slashdot.org] !

Slashdot Crew: Lovely snot! Wonderful snot!

Waitress: Shut up!

Slashdot Crew: Lovely snot [slashdot.org] ! Wonderful snot [slashdot.org] !

Waitress: Shut up! (Slashdot Crew stops) Bloody Slashdot fags! You can't have egg, bacon, snot and sausage without the snot.

CowboiKneel (shrieks): I don't like snot [slashdot.org] !

CmdrTaco: Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your snot [slashdot.org] . I love it. I'm having snot, snot, snot, snot, snot, snot, snot, beaked beans, snot, snot, snot, and snot [slashdot.org] !

Slashdot Crew (singing): Snot, snot, snot, snot [slashdot.org] . Lovely snot! Wonderful snot!

Waitress: Shut up!! Baked beans are off.

CmdrTaco: Well could I have his snot [slashdot.org] instead of the baked beans then?

Waitress: You mean snot [slashdot.org] , snot, snot, snot [slashdot.org] , snot, snot [slashdot.org] ...

Slashdot Crew (singing elaborately): Snot, snot, snot, snot. Lovely snot! Wonderful snot! Snot, sno-o-o-o-o-ot, snot, sno-o-o-o-o-ot snot. Lovely snot! Lovely snot! Lovely snot! Lovely snot! Lovely snot! Snot, snot, snot, snot [slashdot.org] !

________________________________________
Copyright © 2001
The WIPO Troll [slashdot.org] . Verbatim crapflooding of this document is permitted in any medium, provided this copyright notice is preserved, and next time you take a dump, you think of the WIPO Troll and all he's done to make Slashdot a better place.

Re:Snot it! Snot it! Snot it hard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736482)

hahah thats funny.

Slight mistake in the article (5, Funny)

J.D. Hogg (545364) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736393)

"Western news sites including CNN, the BBC and Reuters are routinely blocked"

Since when CNN is a news site ? I see similarities between Chinese people who read the People's Daily and westerners who watch CNN.

Re:Slight mistake in the article (4, Funny)

Phroggy (441) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736434)

Since when CNN is a news site ?

When comparing it to Slashdot.

Re:Slight mistake in the article (2, Insightful)

Happy go Lucky (127957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736454)

Since when CNN is a news site ? I see similarities between Chinese people who read the People's Daily and westerners who watch CNN.

There's a critical difference.

In the US/Europe/Australia/the civilized world in general, people actually have the choice to read the People's Daily or whatever. When I was in college during the Reagan Years, the only problem I had with getting copies of Pravda or Izvestia was that the local newsstand didn't want to waste shelf space on publications in Russian. And I learned Spanish by listening to Radio Havana.

The cops didn't kick down my door for reading Communist bullshit or listening to it on the radio. RH wasn't jammed by the government. And if the Chinese People's Daily is online, there's nothing stopping you from finding it other than their webmaster's incompetence.

Think someone in China could lay hands on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page or the Economist [economist.co.uk] so easily and with so few repercussions?

Take Ed Abbey's masterpiece, _The Brave Cowboy_. In it, no end of trouble is caused by the fact that the protagonists/heroes refused to pay taxes, carry ID, or be drafted. Ten buck in any decent bricks-and-mortar bookstore in the US. And I'll just bet that China has no trouble whatsoever with such subversive books floating around.

Or we can look at the books which portray the US as a corrupt, decaying empire. Heinlein's _TMIAHM_ or Pournelle's _High Justice_ or Falkenberg's Legion series. Or psuedo-subversive nonfiction like Noam Chomsky's garbage. All of it sold openly and completely unrestricted in the US. And I dare you to try to translate it into Mandarin and distribute it in China.

Most Americans are idiots, maybe. I don't agree with that statement, but it has been made and defended here on /. Two or three generations of television and a generation of computer/video games have made our culture a culture of people who sit around, accept the entertainment given them, and make no effort to learn beyond what's presented to them. And they end up with the attention span long enough to last from one commercial break to the next on the TV news. And as a result, CNN and most other major news outlets in the US tailor their material to the short attention span crowd. And some people claim that the news is doctored to some degree to meet the wishes of co-owners or advertisers. I mean, would WB News carry an expose about how Time Magazine can't get anything right? Would NBC (or MSNBC) go in-depth about what a bloated, spying POS Windows XP is? I'm not holding my breath.

But there's a distinction to be made. Here in the US, we CAN have better if we want it. It's a matter of just getting a decent newspaper, the BBC World Service on shortwave, or whatever. It takes more effort than turning on the latest insipid bullshit from WB/SeeBS/FOX/ABC/Whatever, but it's there.

There are plenty of countries where that's not an option. You WILL get your news from politically-acceptable sources. You WILL view only acceptable web sites. And if you don't, then you can be dragged off to die in a slave labor camp or shot with your spouse billed for the ammunition. And China is exactly that kind of fascist rathole.

Oops, that was a bit of a rant. Sorry about that.

What about programming languages? (5, Insightful)

ssheth (92678) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736396)

While the content produced will increasingly come in many different languages as we move forward over the next few years, I still see little movement on the actual programming front.
Today, 99% of all programming is still done in English which ends up giving a definite bias towards English as the language of the web.

If someone comes out with some programming language that can be programmed in local languages and which gets popular, that is when I see a real shift happening in the base of the web. Otherwise, the content producer still ends up embedding their original language content inside English HTML .. which ends up meaning that he/she also must understand English, thereby limiting the scope of the Web to those who at least have a passing knowledge of English.

Re:What about programming languages? (1)

magicslax (532351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736428)

You forget WYSIWYG editors. Perhaps that should be restated to read that 99% of well coded content will be in English. The point is that anybody with the right tools will have access to the internet, and the right tools will exist shortly.

Not everybody is a programmer, just the best of us :-)

Re:What about programming languages? (2, Interesting)

linca (314351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736451)

Are you saying that HTML is in English?

Knowing the very few words needed to "program" in HTML is very far from speaking English. Many of my friends can program, but don't speak English. Programming is certainly not done in any natural language ; understanding english and mastering HTML are two very diferrent things.

Re:What about programming languages? (1)

magicslax (532351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736456)

It sure can't help to know what 'color' or 'font' means, though. Especially if this is not your native alphabet - not to mention the problem of different keysets. Input could be difficult.

I guess I just feel like playing the devil's advocate today. eh.

Re:What about programming languages? (0)

Xerion (265191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736497)

What makes you think an average English speaker can distinguish the difference between TD and TR??

My point is that knowing english helps one to learn how to program, but does not really prevent non-english speakers from learning it quickly.

Re:What about programming languages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736481)

HTML isn't a programming language. It does not contain conditional branching.

Bill Gates, dead at age 42 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736397)

I just heard sad news on talk radio - Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was found murdered at a Los Angeles charity event this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure we'll all miss him - even if you didn't use his operating system you've probably enjoyed his buggy office software. Truly an American icon.

I think this is the opposite of a problem (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736401)

China tries to wall off the internet and keep it from "contaminating" the thoughts of its people, but too often they fail. An entire nation trying to firewall itself off from the rest of the internet while simulataneously trying to embrace it? It won't work. Sooner or later I think the current chinese government is going to end, we'll soon see.

Billion citizens != Billion Internet Users (5, Interesting)

-tji (139690) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736405)

The latest UN statistics [un.org] show China's per-capita income at $798 USD.

Does that sort of income enable the purchase of a computer, or the recurring costs of a phone line and ISP?

If it does, then what are the Internet applications driving this incredible influx of mandarin/cantonese users? Without the huge economic/retail motive that drove American adoption, it's hard to see the huge growth in users and services. And, obviously, there is absolutely no way this will happen by 2007, as it says in the article.

Re:Billion citizens != Billion Internet Users (1)

hatchet (528688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736441)

Those things are cheaper in china... actually almost everything is cheaper in china. A year or so back.. they were making 100% replicas of ASUS motherboards for fraction of cost and sold it at normal price. I still believe they are doing so.. only they do not sell it in mainstream.

Re:Billion citizens != Billion Internet Users (1)

klui (457783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736486)

Computers may be cheaper in China than the U.S., but the average income in China aren't even close to that in the U.S.

Re:Billion citizens != Billion Internet Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736488)

Only one legitimate copy of any software title is ever exported to China. Software is very cheap over there.

Maybe not, but check out this map I found (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736509)

I wouldn't be so sure about that...

Check this out:

I did a search on Google's Image search for "Chinese Internet Usage" and this is what I got, its a global map showing how much of the Internet is in Chinese. Quite interesting.

china-internet.gif [google.com]

/\ Do not click Goatsex link /\ (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736523)

Mod parent down.

Re:Maybe not, but check out this map I found (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736531)

Good one. Actually didn't see it coming.

This

is

some

shit

to

feed

that

stupid

fucking

twenty

second

timeout.

Good

one,

you

fucking

Slashdot

pricks.

Re:Maybe not, but check out this map I found (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736535)

hahhaa, I got you, you fucking moron.

See what you get for being a dumb fuck?

Re:Billion citizens != Billion Internet Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736514)

"China's per-capita income at $798 USD"

Yeah, but over there, they MAKE the PCs. It only costs them like USD$9.95 to build a screaming 1.6 GHz monster!

You forget one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736543)

China is a communistic state. The base of comunism is that most things should be financed collectively through taxes. USA OTOH is capitalistic and everyone has to pay everything from their own pocket. In a communistic state there *should be* no extra charge for educaton, hospitals etc. But I'm no expert on China so I don't know if this works in practise.

Same old language barrier? (3)

ddent (166525) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736407)

Well duh... sorry, that sounds rather america-centric. Do you really expect everyone else to learn english so you don't have to learn anything else?

Re:Same old language barrier? (1)

igor_p (263951) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736414)

Do you really expect everyone else to learn english so you don't have to learn anything else?

Yes ;)

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736418)

Yes. Si. Oui. Ja. Sì. Sim.

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736438)

Canadians, Brits, Australians and New Zealanders also speak the language. The fact that you think English is only an American language proves your jingoism and your imperialistic tendencies.

Re:Same old language barrier? (1)

ddent (166525) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736468)

psst. I'm Canadian. :)

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736542)

What about the Irish? They speak English. They used to have Gaelic like the Scots but those Anglo-Saxons always spreading their language with the sword!

Re:Same old language barrier? (1)

ender81b (520454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736443)

>Well duh... sorry, that sounds rather america->centric.
>Do you really expect everyone else to learn >english so you don't have to learn anything else?

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736516)

Do you really expect everyone else to learn english so you don't have to learn anything else?

Actually, most everybody is already learning/has learned english. Do you really expect everyone to start learning a language of a billion oppressed people (only 1/20th of which might use the internet) just so they don't have to learn anything else? I really doubt the language will ever shift, simply because people everywhere fear change, and by the time enough people in China use the net (unfiltered mind you, so they can be heard in order to influence the rest of the world) Enlglish will probably be even more dominant in the world than it is now. Sorry to be all US-centric, but that is just the way things shaped up.

Re:Same old language barrier? (2)

ddent (166525) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736545)

*sigh* There is truth to both your comment and the one below... I say this as an english speaker myself (as well as french), but I kind of feel bad that english is taking away other people's cultures slowly but surely.

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736561)

but I kind of feel bad that english is taking away other people's cultures slowly but surely.

Shut the fuck up frog. English is not taking away anybody's culture. Is that the fucking socialist propaganda they teach you over there in frogland?

Re:Same old language barrier? (3, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736532)

Well duh... sorry, that sounds rather america-centric. Do you really expect everyone else to learn english so you don't have to learn anything else?

Actually, yes I do. English speakers, whether or not that was the mother tongue of all the individuals involved, after all, developed practically all the technology involved. English is the lingua franca of international commerce. Air traffic control and hotel concierges all over the world speak English. Engineers in many disciplines use English terminology, even if the rest of their communication is in their native language, and international academic journals are published in English. Esperanto was a nice idea (I even learnt basic conversation in it once) but English, with maybe French (which I speak, altho' not fluently) or Spanish for backup, is the de facto common tongue, and will enable you to travel or to business almost anywhere in the world. Remember that English is not a static language, it freely adopts words and phrases from other languages as required. It can be both precise and expressive, as required.

Maybe (relatively) few Chinese speak English, but relatively few Chinese even speak to non-Chinese at all. That country is not a cultural and linguistic "melting pot" like the US or UK, it is remarkably homogenous for such a large country. The question really is, will the Chinese become like us, or will they choose an isolationist policy? And don't forget, Chinese characters are available on computers at all because Western corporations decided that they should be - we are being as accomodating as we possibly can! If the Chinese want their own information infrastructure, they are free to create it for themselves - or they can choose to use ours, which we are making available freely. Why is America always the bad guy in cultural discussions?

Besides, there are purely technical reasons why English is a "better" language than Chinese for computing - look at the numbers of characters in the alphabets, for example. English words are distinct, Chinese ideograms are much more dependent on context and the interpretation of the listener.

Re:Same old language barrier? (0)

cockeater (542284) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736566)

Remember that English is not a static language, it freely adopts words and phrases from other languages as required. It can be both precise and expressive, as required.

How exactly are either of these points unique to English? And for the first argument, havn't most languages adopted words in the technical field from English?

Sorry, I didn't mean to flame.

Most of the content will be in Chinese... (1)

Happy go Lucky (127957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736419)

..but most of the content already is, judging by how much spam I get and how much of it's Chinese.

Engrish (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736422)

Not to sound biased here, but isn't the Internet mostly in English already? since English is one of the most widely used languages in the world, why don't they just either learn English or get some software to convert the English into Chinese? Language is only a barrier because we don't put forth effort to express ideas.

Re:Engrish (1)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736518)

actually there are millions of pages already in chinese but as you can't read it you probably haven't noticed ;)

why should they have to learn english when there are 100s of companies and 1000s of individuals already providing content in chinese?

Chineese... (1)

hatchet (528688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736423)

Did you know that writing of most eastern nations is more or less similar. For example.. janapnese guy can easily read chineese newspaper.. but cannot verbaly communicate with them.

Re:Chineese... (1)

JubeiX (520074) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736433)

Not true. Not true at all.

While Japanese uses a lot of the same kanji as Chinese, they sometimes have different (even if only slightly) meanings associated with them.

Also, consider that a literate (in the eyes of the goverment) japanese individual does not know as many kanji as a Chinese individual.

Other languages don't use as heavily Chinese derived kanji either. See Korean.

JubeiX

Re:Chineese... (0)

Xerion (265191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736511)

You gotta be kidding me. How many Japanese you know who can understand more than 30% of a Chinese newspaper article?

According to your logic, English speakers should have no trouble reading Spanish/French/German, since they use pretty much the same set of alphabet, and all rooted in Latin.

More cock-yanking from California... (5, Insightful)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736425)



The idea that Chinese will be the predominant language on the web is absurd.

China, despite recent moves towards a more open, capitalist society, has a problem that wont go away. Saw an interesting program on PBS a few months ago that discussed how China has changed in the past 50 years. Basically, you have a situation these days where the gap between the upper class and lower class is insanely wide. The wealthier segment of the population can often afford computers, internet access and the like, but this wealthier portion only makes up a tiny, tiny fraction of China's population. Meanwhile, the bulk of China's population are subsistance farmers who aren't allowed to even BE in (let alone conduct business in) China's main citiies. In most of these rural areas, electric power and indoor plumbing are considered high tech luxuries. Infact, China's national telecom infrastructure is considerably less extensive than most states in the U.S.

China's on the move, yes, but they have a looooooooooooong long way to go before their influence on the Internet becomes anywhere near as large as Europe's or America's influence.

Cheers,

I Wouldn't Be So Sure About That (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736501)

I wouldn't be so sure about Chinese not becoming the predominant language on the web.

Check this out:

I did a search on Google's Image search for "Chinese Internet Usage" and this is what I got, its a global map showing how much of the Internet is in Chinese. Quite interesting.

china-internet.gif [google.com]

Right on target (1)

IpalindromeI (515070) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736556)

I completely agree. While the Chinese have the obvious population advantage that appears to come to this result, they don't have anywhere near as many internet users, let alone posters. Most of China is impoverished. They're trying to get their next meal, not sitting around reading slashdot. Not only that, but how much of the population can even read? This would probably be a necessity for using the internet and posting content to it (although it seems some people here get by). I would think Hindi would have a better chance of becoming the next internet language. Really what you have to look at is not which languages have the most speakers, but which languages have the most speakers in technologically developed countries. These are the places that are actively using and creating new internet content, en masse. I highly doubt China will be making a strong showing in that category very soon.

Great Reason to Learn Esperanto (1)

DCowern (182668) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736427)

This is a wonderful reason for us all to learn Esperanto [esperanto.org] . This site [pacujo.nu] offers a free Esperanto course with a personal tutor.

yeah, but... (1)

abes (82351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736432)

is that Manderin or Cantonese? As far as I understand there are even more distinctions that one can make between all the variants.

There might end up being more pages in Chinese in quantity, but that isn't the same as visibility. Any page that wants to speak to a world wide audience will have to have an english version.

Aside from being a lazy american who could barely manage russian, and is quite content with only speaking english, there is a much more persuasive argument. Programming languages. Not that everyone technically needs to know how to program, but getting a computer to do anything sophisticated requires at least a pseudo-language. Take HTML for instance. While you can fill the content with any language you like, the tags will forever remain in english (there can also be hacks made of course) [counter examples to my english hypothesis are assembly language and Perl]

Besides, everyone knows that either esperanto or pig-latin will the real official language spoken by the world come 20 years.

Re:yeah, but...Written Chinese (1)

linca (314351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736475)

The spoken Mandarin and Cantonese are diferrent, but the written Languages are exactly the same. And the Internet is mostly a written medium.

How many actual English words do you need to know to actually program in any languages? 20, 30 at most? Very easy to learn, much easier to learn than English, as a whole language. Indeed the vocabulary isn't the hardest stage of learning a language ; the really tough part is the grammar, and the idiomatic expression. Saying that a prgramming language is in English is meaningless.

Re:yeah, but...Written Chinese (1)

klui (457783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736500)

There are Cantonese-specific characters that are sometimes used in films. An example of which is Jet Li's Fong Sai Yuk I and II. While most of the written language in Southern China is formal--which is pretty much the same as Mandarin--there are differences.

Re:yeah, but...Written Chinese (1)

futakoma (533636) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736529)

The spoken Mandarin and Cantonese are diferrent, but the written Languages are exactly the same.

Not true. There are Traditional and Simplified writing styles.

It doesn't matter.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736436)

...how far east the internet gets, they'll always be Goatse.cx [slashdot.jp]

Technology to the rescue (3, Interesting)

inkswamp (233692) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736437)

And how is the Internet supposed to draw people together when the same old language barrier still exists?

Give it time. On a Pink Floyd mailing list [meddle.org] I subscribe to, one of the more prominent posters is an intriguing fellow from Japan who doesn't speak English and has published a book in Japan [avis.ne.jp] about the band. He posts through a piece of software that provides translations both ways. The software is primitive and far from perfect. Frankly, it can sometimes turn out some pretty puzzling results (I often wonder how my messages to him come out.) Despite that, I--and many others on the list--have gotten to know him and value his contribution. I can see the development of this kind of software becoming more and more worthwhile as the Internet moves east. I look forward to it actually.

--Rick

The Internet can't do chinese ?? (1)

J.D. Hogg (545364) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736444)

"[The Internet] can cope with most European languages, but its core technologies, from the domain name system to HTML itself, don't translate naturally into as foreign a dialect as Mandarin."

The Internet is perfectly capable of doing Mandarin. For example, check this out, I'm going to write "slashdot" in Mandarin without using unicode :

-+- This is
/|\ "slash"

,|/ This is
/ \ "dot"

See ? it's called ASCII. It does a faily good approximation of Mandarin I say ...

Re:The Internet can't do chinese ?? (1)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736528)

The cool thing about ASCII is it can be used to represent not just English and Mandarin, but an infinite amount of languages, using clever symbols.
For example, in my native language this is how we write 'Slashdot':

<O
&nbsp(\
X
8===D

Surely the Internet has NO agenda! (2)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736448)

China is growing in wealth - and is set to accellerate - remember Japan? Look at China! It's going to happen - why do you think Clinton was so keen to make friends and open trade routes.

China will be the biggest exporting economy on the planet within 10-15 years. You think they wont need PCs??

Also - China is changing. The very heart of Capitalism - the right to found and operate a business - has been granted to every adult citizen in the Chinese constitution! You can't get a better indicator of China 'going western' than that.

Rich countries have better human rights records because the people poke sticks at the government less, so get poked back less. China gets rich, China gets Internet, China gets better human rights.

China will not change fundamentally because of the internet, but because of the free market. You cannot benefit from a global free market if you are not a national free market. China is moving towards a free market - so it can make money out of the rest of us.

The 'west' has been doing it for centuries - it works - we all have laptops and comfortable pants - good luck to them.

Re:Surely the Internet has NO agenda! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736562)

"The 'west' has been doing it for centuries - it works - we all have laptops and comfortable pants - good luck to them."

This is sick. Are you kidding me? Every nation can not be as rich as the West. If they all are who is gonna manufacture all the electronics cheaply for the West? It will not be possible to manufacture it as cheaply as it is now if all nations have a more equal standard of living in respect to each other. The days of over consumption and over production would be over in a more egalatarian world.

Chinese as a second language? (3, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736452)

There might be more people who can read Chinese as their first language than there are Anglophones... but what about the people who speak English or Chinese as their second language? I would say in that light that the internet would have more Anglophones using it.

Can somebody clarify this for me: isn't English one of the main second languages in India. And isn't the population of India supposed to surpass that of China within the next 10 or 20 years?

Re:Chinese as a second language? (1)

linca (314351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736483)

The main difference between Chinese and English is that where Chinese is a National Language, used only in one country, English is an international Language, spoken natively on every continent, and the foremost second language. That is why, even if many people on the 'net speak chinese, English will remain prominent for most 'international' sites.

Re:Chinese as a second language? (1)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736530)

chinese is also used in taiwan, singapore, malaysia, indonesia and so on by sizeable populations

Re:Chinese as a second language? (1)

linca (314351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736539)

By sizeable CHINESE population. Whereas English is used by africans, Indians,... Chinese is exported only with its own people ; the chinese language isn't spoken by non-ethnically chinese people, only by emigrants from china.

Re:Chinese as a second language? (1)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736544)

so what? it still means there are many people who want to use the internet in chinese - which is the point here surely?

Check Out This Map... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736490)

I did a search on Google's Image search for "Chinese Internet Usage" and this is what I got, its a global map showing how much of the Internet is in Chinese.. Quite interesting.

china-internet.gif [google.com]

Chinese Keyboards (1)

ender81b (520454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736453)

In shear mathematical terms they are right -- if they could get by all the problems discussed above. And of course I do believe that they are *still* having problems with developing a chinese keyboard (1 million different symbols). That seems to me to be more of a barrier than anything else (unless you propose to teach the entire population pinyin(?) I believe it is called - chinese language spelled out phonetically in roman characters (think Beijing,Hong Kong,Mao Zedong, etc).

I doubt it (1)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736459)

At the moment most software is still english. Not M$ word but things like BIND and SendMail. These rely simply on english characters. So even though you have chinese HTML, you still have to type in your addresses in English.
Besides, I've tried typing on a chinese keyboard and it sure wasn't easy.

Language doesn't matter (1)

Genshadow (117416) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736462)

In 10 years language translation programs will be to the point where they can be used in a production level environment. With this in mind I beleive that a standard language on the internet, or even communications in general, will not be nessary. Although this is just my opinion and I do not have any facts to back up this claim.

P.S. I apploigize if this post is redundant, my route to /. went down.

The shift has started.... (1)

Tazzy531 (456079) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736463)

The shift had started a few years ago...The next big internet boom is currently taking place in the far east. Pretty much a lot of the entrepeneurs that had worked on internet startups here in the US shifted their focus over to the far east. By learning from the mistakes that they made, they are able to do it more efficiently.

aol user? (1)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736464)

would you consider the average AOL user "on the internet?"

me neither...

The Internet Shifts East (1)

jawahar (541989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736473)

This would NOT happen. Chinese is not diversified, as is English. Please check google zeitgeist. http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html

learn mandarin / kanji (1)

andi75 (84413) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736477)

Language barrier? Learn mandarin (the standard chinese, already a second language to many many chinese. There's dozens of dialoects/languages spoken in China (cantonese, hakka, wu, min etc.).

And since kanji is a language independent alphabet, you can communicate with people that don't even speak the same language as you.

- Andreas

English (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736478)

Contrary to the perception in North America english is actually used very little over the world. It is only 10th most popular over the world and even on the internet it comprises of only about 43% of the material. It is inevitable that english will become even more marginalized over the world and if North American buisnesses are going to prosper they are going to have to learn to serve these new market.

Google Image of Internet Usage (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736480)

I did a search on Google's image search for "Chinese Internet Usage Maap" and this is what I got, it is a global map showing how much of the world is using Chinese on the Internet, its quite interesting.

china-internet.gif [google.com]

Why are american standards always ignored? (0, Offtopic)

evilviper (135110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736491)

I'll admit this is slightly off-topic, but this story reminded me of all the times that a US standard is ignored overseas. I wonder if anyone can even begin to explain it away.

There's a million instances where a company or government essentially defines a standard before any other countries have even ventured into the territory. Simple enough. It seems that when other countries, usually European countries, get involved with that same technology, they adopt a standard incompatible with the US defined one.

The first to come to mind is voltage, AC frequency, and the type of connctor used. That's only one thing however. Everything is incompatible for some reason. Even standards organizations... IEEE802 projects rarely exactly match the currently implimented products. Token Ring, Ethernet, etc.

In networking a T-1 != E-1, and a T-3 != E-3.

This could go on forever...

Fairly meaningless (4, Insightful)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736495)

Sure, Chinese may very well be the native language of most Internet users in 10 years, due to the giant size of the Chinese population, but any claims that this will cause some great shift in how the world uses the web is pretty silly.

Numbers alone aren't significant, if they were Chinese (which, as the article points out, has so many speakers) would be the quasi-official language of multinational business, travel, etc..Right? But it isn't...English is. My point isn't to praise English (which in many ways is a very stupid language, technically), but just point out that the numbers only tell a very small part of the story. I won't even bother to point out that many of these Chinese speakers who get on the net will be in no position to contribute much to the global economy in terms of buying goods for import, etc, due to political and economical roadblocks.

lol... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736503)

the truth is revealed... [wired.com] wired.com even printed an article about this... *sigh* someday you all will see the truth.

man.. check it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736506)

Microsoft and Apple ads are everywhere, but no one is funding major marketing campaigns for desktop Linux. No one with any clout is carrying the torch for desktop Linux. Who is Linux's Bill Gates or Steve Jobs? Not Linus Torvalds. He supports desktop Linux, but does little proselytizing.

care of: this link here from wired.com [wired.com]

wow, good story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736521)

The problem has caused even Rob Malda, the founder of Slashdot, to sound the alarm. Malda, known by his nom de net, CmdrTaco, can get down and dirty himself. So when CmdrTaco's own troops provoke his disgust, you know there's a serious problem.

i like that part the best haha.
hidden lil tid bit on page 3 :)
HERE [wired.com]

easy solution (-1)

SlaveTroll (535702) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736536)

the "standard" language for the web should be english, since that is what the inventor of the internet speaks (al gore).

stats page (1)

CordMeyer (452485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736553)

Have a lookse here [global-reach.biz] for current Global Internet Statistics by Language.

Old news... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2736559)

As most professional x-pats in the IT sector have known for the last year or so, Chinese will replace English on the net in less than 10 years. More like 5.

If you start your studies now, you might be ready.

As for me, I'm adding Chinese languages skills to Japanese and Korean.

Half-on the internet (3, Insightful)

HalfFlat (121672) | more than 12 years ago | (#2736563)

Would you even consider the average wealthy Chinese citizen with online access truly 'on the Internet'?
Would you consider the average Western individual with dial-up access 'on the Internet'?

There really are two classes of Internet citizens: those who have a fixed IP and can be information sources; and those who have dynamic IPs or are forbidden to run servers, and are pretty much restricted to being information sinks. Sure it's an oversimplification, but the vast majority of people on the Internet through home-connections, are second-class Internet citizens.

In Australia for example, it is significantly more expensive to be fully on the net - we're looking at 15 to 23 cents per received megabyte of data, and they're marketting megabytes (10e6 bytes). If one is happy with a proxied web service and a server-free presence, then for $80 a month one can download 3 gigabytes or more over ADSL.

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