The Publius Project (Essays & conversations about constitutional moments on the Net collected by the Berkman Center) has just published an essay from Ethan Zuckerman (originally written for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet) about the need to address translation issues on the Internet in order to retain its global conversive nature:
If we do not address the problems of the polyglot internet, we introduce another possible way our shared internet can fragment. There are competing – and likely incompatible – visions for future governance of the internet. As the internet becomes less of a global, shared space and more of a Chinese or Arabic or English space, we lose incentives to work together on common, compatible frameworks and protocols. We face the real possibility of the internet becoming multiple internets, divided first by languages, but later by values, norms and protocols.
The internet is the most powerful tool created by humans to allow connection, collaboration and understanding between people of different nations, races and cultures. For the internet to reach its potential in bridging human differences, we need to make the problems of language and translation center to our conversations about the future of the internet.