This post is the fifth of 15 posts following the adventures of George S. Jones, a journalist from 2058 who has been sent on assignment back in time to report on the Web2.0 Expo Europe to be held in Berlin from the 21 – 23 October 2008. George, of course, is fictional. And the surrounding story is a figment of my imagination. However, the Web2.0 Expo in Berlin is very real and could very well be the most outstanding conference of its kind. If you want to be a part of it, I have a 35% discount code for anyone who is planning on attending the conference. You can register here https://en.oreilly.com/webexberlin2008/public/register using the code webeu08gr56 to get your discount. The official conference website is at http://europe.web2expo.com/.
Note 812.56.011 – George S. Jones; journalist for the Web2.0 Expo Europe reporting from 2008.
In 2008, the online world was still quite primitive. One of the issues that they faced was how to allow communication between disparate people from all over the world, speaking different languages. The session which was given on the morning of October 22nd 2008, led by Andreas Ravn, looked at these problems. Issues of tagging, navigation and architecture, search terms and character encoding were hot topics. In the technology of the time, I can see how this would have raised issues. I mean, here was a global phenomenon – the social internet – giving people from all over the world the ability to communicate with one another and the ancient barriers of language still stood in their way.
Conversations like this continued for years afterwards. Until the evolution of the Babelfish translator. Goodness, Babelfish was primitive in 2008!! I am not at all surprised people were a little sceptical about it. The technology nowadays is so accurate, even taking into account dialects, slang and accents, that language barriers have almost been eliminated. Especially on the internet. I can look at any page here on my iEverything, whether it is from China, Germany or Mexico, and the page is translated according to my highly personalised preferences. I can effectively communicate with anyone, and anyone with me.
Nevertheless, when Andreas Ravn was dealing with these issues, there were some pretty poor attempts at doing this. English and Chinese were becoming the most common languages on the internet. It is only because of the Babelfish translator that less used languages and dialects began to flourish, as they no longer found themselves incomprehensible to others. I am sure the attendees of this session would have loved to know what the future held. In fact…I get a funny feeling it was one of the attendees who was one of the pioneers of the new technology…? I must check that.
I know I am sounding optimistic, but it seems a sure thing that the Time Travel machine is out of action entirely. Every single time travel envoy is trapped in various times. I guess it could be worse for me – I think Shelley had gone back to Victorian England to research for a new documentary. At least I have got some kind of internet. She is almost in a blackout!
I don’t doubt that the engineers will get it fixed somehow – I am still getting broken messages from the office. But there is an odd air about everyone I speak to…like perhaps this problem wasn’t an accident?