[Paleopsych] Corante: Many-to-Many: Fukuyama's Penguin

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Many-to-Many: Fukuyama's Penguin

    I have this pet theory, rather grand, and falls into the category of
    [18]what you believe is true even though you cannot prove it. That
    open source will realize the end of history.

    In 1989 Francis Fukuyama wrote the celebrated and controversial book,
    The End of History, which posited that the collapse of the Soviet
    Union was a Hegelian triumph of liberal democracy as the last
    remaining form of government and political philosophy. Fukuyama went
    on to explore issues of social capital and tyhmos, "desire for
    recognition" that drives free-market economics. His critics were
    manifold, particularly those on the wrong side of history. Marxist
    criticism centered less on liberal politics than liberal economics --
    particularly market failure. The classic debate over the role of
    government centers on what economists call market failure: when the
    market fails to provide social goods.

    Similar to how Doc says the demand side is supplying itself, with open
    source and open content social goods are produced through peer
    production. Let's explore one aspect that is less about code and more
    about social dynamics triumphing over economics, [19]language. For a
    small country like [20]Rwanda, a localized version of Office would
    never be supplied, so they do it themselves. Some vendors are [21]open
    sourcing their localization in recognition of unevenly distributed
    demand. While more research is required, some patterns emerge with
    stories behind them when comparing language support by markets and
    Rank [22]World Population [23]Internet Population [24]Web Content
    [25]Wikipedia [26]LISA.org
    1 Chinese (Mandarin) English English English French
    2 Spanish Chinese Japanese German German
    3 English Spanish German Japanese Spanish
    4 Bengali Japanese Chinese French Japanese
    5 Hindi German French Swedish Italian
    6 Portugese French Spanish Polish Chinese
    7 Russian Korean Russian Dutch Portuguese
    8 Japanese Italian Portuguese Spanish Swedish
    9 German Portuguese Korean Italian Dutch
    10 Chinese (wu) Dutch Other Portuguese Korean

    World population and internet population are gauges of demand. Web
    content is supplied by both markets and peers. Wikipedia is produced
    by peers, although the stories behind the community distort the
    current outcome. LISA.org (Localization Industry Standards
    Association) is a measure of market production for localization.

    Wikipedia isn't a perfect gauge of peer supply when markets fail,
    because it is a community with rich stories of how it evolves. Perhaps
    over time and at greater scales the rise of the Swedish version would
    be a signal of bottom-up fulfillment, but today it may very well be
    preferential attachment spawned by early adoption and there is also a
    high level of market-based translation effort. The Polish exception
    may well be the same, but there is an interesting story here.

    Wikipedia has had [27]two forks in its history, both by language based
    communities when commercialization was a potential threat. The
    [28]Polish fork was resolved and re-integrated. This explains why
    Spanish Wikipedia is low in its ranking relative to online population:
    [29]Enciclopedia Libre Universal is a Spanish language wiki website,
    running at the University of Sevilla in Spain. It was started in
    January 2002 as a fork from the Spanish branch of WikiPedia,
    EsWikiPedia, apparently after a misunderstanding about WikiPedia
    founder Jimmy Wales' intentions to use advertising as a means to raise
    funding for the project. At the fork, the EsWikiPedia contained some
    2000 articles and was among the biggest handful of non-English
    Wikipedias. After the fork, Enciclopedia Libre has grown faster than
    any non-English Wikipedia branch, and is believed to be the world's
    3rd BiggestWiki (as of July 2002).

    [30]Arle Lommel from [31]LISA was kind enough to gather this data for
    me (perhaps a benefit of Socialtext's membership), and also provide
    some analysis which I encouraged to share openly. Beyond the tabled
    measures of translation in volume, he provides analysis of strategic
    languages that are off the chart:
    In contrast are "strategic" languages, i.e., those that represent new
    market areas with a potential for new revenue streams. In this view,
    China seems to be the number one language at present (I write this
    based on a number of LISA presentations and the general "buzz" in the

    While we don't have any hard data at present on strategic language
    (for obvious reasons, companies tend to keep strategic information
    quite close), if we look at those countries where U.S. and European
    businesses are trying to establish a foot-hold for consumer-oriented
    products and see new large markets (and where the market can be
    accessed easily with a single language), you will have a picture of
    the strategic languages. I suspect that the list would look something
    like the following:

    1. Chinese
    2. Japanese
    3. Spanish (for U.S.-based companies that see Latin America as a
    While India is rising in importance, it isn't a major localization
    target yet because (1) it is fairly well served with English, at least
    for the most affluent sectors, and (2) for those not served by
    English, the picture is of immense linguistic fragmentation, with
    hundreds of languages that could be considered part of the
    localization picture.

    One generalization is that Wikipedia lags behind all others in Chinese
    translation because its relatively centralized and censorable.

    I had coffee with Hong Kong University Researcher Andrew Lih today and
    I will pass on some of his research on regional language use in
    Wikipedia in an update later. But he made a significant point that
    second languages are a primary determinant of development in
    wikipedia. For example, users in India and the Philippines have such a
    high rate of English as a second language that their own languages
    have yet to develop within Wikipedia.

    But I would end with this thought of the Polish exception. A polish
    online encyclopedia at the scale of the wikipedia version would not
    have been developed with market and contractual signals alone. Social
    signals are driving this production and producing a social good. The
    story behind it is an exceptional community, but an exception that
    could very well become the norm as we march towards the End of
    Posted by Ross at 12:52 PM
      Comments and Trackbacks

    The example of Rwanda is telling.

    Rwanda was included in Jared Diamond's recent book, Collapse. He
    connected the genocide in Rwanda with growing hunger and plummeting
    living conditions driven by environmental degradation.

    Open software creates great new abundance, but does not help if people
    don't have enough to eat.

    Food and environmental problems are social problems. Wikis, social
    software and other modern communication technology like telephones can
    help somewhat, but the big problems are human problems about making

    Rich countries like the US conduct in aquifer mining in dry areas, and
    large scale agriculture practices that strip soil fertility. We need
    more than wikis to make decisions that will foster abundance in the
    long term.
    Posted by [32]Adina Levin on January 6, 2005 06:00 PM | [33]Permalink
    to Comment

    "In 1989 Francis Fukuyama wrote the celebrated and controversial book,
    The End of History, which posited that the collapse of the Soviet
    Union was a Hegelian triumph of liberal democracy as the last
    remaining form of government and political philosophy."

    I think what he was saying was a little more subtle than that. He used
    not history, but History, in the sense of competing worldviews.
    Liberal democracy won insofar as nobody really can argue that there is
    a better system out there.
    Posted by [34]praktike on January 6, 2005 07:02 PM | [35]Permalink to

    Yes, its just the end of a philosophical debate, the sky isn't
    Posted by [36]Ross Mayfield on January 6, 2005 10:41 PM |
    [37]Permalink to Comment
    Many Too Many
    Excerpt: Over at Many-2-Many we have a fascinating post, called
    Fukuyama's Penguin, speculating on why Chinese isn't
    better-represented in online contributions. This got me to singing:
    Many too many have stood where I stand Many more will stand here too,
    [38]Read the rest...
    Trackback from Moore's Lore, Jan 7, 2005 10:17 AM


   18. http://www.edge.org/q2005/q05_print.html
   19. http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2004/11/the_speed_of_la.html
   20. http://news.com.com/Se+habla+open+source/2100-7344_3-5159179.html
   21. http://www.lisa.org/archive_domain/newsletters/2004/4.2/redlers.html
   22. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm
   23. http://www.glreach.com/globstats/
   24. http://global-reach.biz/globstats/refs.php3
   25. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Multilingual_statistics
   26. http://www.lisa.org/blogs/index.php?id=2
   27. http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?WikiPediaIsNotTypical
   28. http://mail.wikipedia.org/pipermail/intlwiki-l/2002-March/000302.html
   29. http://enciclopedia.us.es/
   30. http://www.lisa.org/blogs/index.php?id=2
   31. http://www.lisa.org/
   32. http://www.alevin.com/weblog
   33. http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2005/01/06/fukuyamas_penguin.php#17194
   34. http://www.liberalsagainstterrorism.com/
   35. http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2005/01/06/fukuyamas_penguin.php#17198
   36. http://ross.typepad.com/
   37. http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2005/01/06/fukuyamas_penguin.php#17206
   38. http://www.corante.com/mooreslore/archives/032122.html

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