The Project Gutenberg EBook of Interviews (1998-2001), by Marie Lebert
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Title: Interviews (1998-2001)
Author: Marie Lebert
Release Date: October 26, 2008 [EBook #27032]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK INTERVIEWS (1998-2001) ***
Produced by Al Haines
NEF, University of Toronto, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Marie Lebert
What do they do on the Web? What do they think of the Internet, copyright,multilingualism, the future of paper, the e-book, the information society, etc.?A series of interviews between 1998 and 2001 with writers, journalists,publishers, booksellers, librarians, professors, researchers, linguists, etc.There is also a French version (with more interviews): Entretiens (1998-2001),and a Spanish version (with a few interviews): Entrevistas (1998-2001). Theoriginal versions are available on the NEF, University of Toronto:http://www.etudes-francaises.net/entretiens/index.htm
(*) Interviews translated by Marie Lebert (with Greg Chamberlain).
Guy Antoine (New Jersey) / Founder of Windows on Haiti, a source of positiveinformation about Haitian culture
Arlette Attali * (Paris) / Head of Research and Internet Projects at the INaLF
(Institut national de la langue française - National Institute of the French
Robert Beard (Pennsylvania) / Co-Founder of yourDictionary.com, a major languageportal
Michael Behrens (Bielefeld, Germany) / In charge of the digital library of
Bielfeld University Library
Guy Bertrand & Cynthia Delisle * (Montreal) / Respectively scientific directorand consultant at the CEVEIL (Centre d'expertise et de veille inforoutes etlangues - Centre for Assessment and Monitoring of Information Highways andLanguages)
Alain Bron * (Paris) / Information systems consultant and writer. The Internetis one of the "characters" of his novel Sanguine sur toile (Sanguine on the Web)
Tyler Chambers (Boston) / Creator of The Human-Languages Page (who becameiLoveLanguages in 2001) and The Internet Dictionary Project
Alain Clavet * (Ottawa) / Policy analyst with the Office of the Commissioner ofthe Official Languages in Canada
Jean-Pierre Cloutier * (Montreal) / Editor of Chroniques de Cybérie, a weeklyreport of Internet news
Kushal Dave * (Yale) / Student at Yale University
Bruno Didier * (Paris) / Webmaster of the Institute Pasteur Library
Catherine Domain * (Paris) / Founder of the Ulysses Bookstore (Librairie
Ulysse), the oldest travel bookstore in the world
Helen Dry (Michigan) / Moderator of The Linguist List
Bill Dunlap (Paris & San Francisco) / Founder of Global Reach, a methodology forcompanies to expand their Internet presence through a multilingual website
Jacques Gauchey * (San Francisco) / Specialist in the information technologyindustry, "facilitator" between the United States and Europe, and journalist
Marcel Grangier * (Bern) / Head of the French Section of the Swiss Federal
Government's Central Linguistic Services
Barbara F. Grimes (Hawaii) / Editor of Ethnologue: Languages of the World
Michael Hart (Illinois) / Founder of Project Gutenberg, the oldest digitallibrary on the Internet
Roberto Hernández Montoya * (Caracas) / Head of the digital library of theelectronic magazine Venezuela Analítica
Randy Hobler (Dobbs Ferry, New York) / Internet Marketing Consultant. Worked at
Globalink, a company specialized in language translation software and services
Eduard Hovy (Marina del Rey, California) / Head of the Natural Language Group atthe Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California(USC/ISI)
Christiane Jadelot * (Nancy, France) / Researcher at the INaLF (Institutnational de la langue française - National Institute of the French Language)
Jean-Paul * (Paris) / Webmaster of cotres furtifs (Furtive Cutter Ships), awebsite that tells stories in 3D
Brian King / Director of the WorldWide Language Institute, who initiated NetGlos
(The Multilingual Glossary of Internet Terminology)
Geoffrey Kingscott (London) / Co-editor of the online magazine Language Today
Steven Krauwer (Utrecht, Netherlands) / Coordinator of the European Network of
Excellence in Human Language Technologies (ELSNET)
Michael Martin (Berkeley, California) / Founder and president of Travlang, asite dedicated both to travel and languages
Tim McKenna (Geneva) / Thinks and writes about the complexity of truth in aworld of flux
Yoshi Mikami (Fujisawa, Japan) / Creator of The Languages of the World by
Computers and the Internet, and co-author of The Multilingual Web Guide
John Mark Ockerbloom (Pennsylvania) / Founder of The On-Line Books Page, listingfreely-available online books
Caoimhín P. Ó Donnaíle (Island of Skye, Scotland) / Maintains a list of europeanminority languages on the main website with information on Scottish Gaelic
Jacques Pataillot * (Paris) / Management Consultant with the firm Cap Gemini
Ernst & Young
Peter Raggett (Paris) / Head of the Centre for Documentation and Information
(CDI) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Henri Slettenhaar (Geneva) / Professor in communication technology at Webster
Murray Suid (Palo Alto, California) / Writer, works for EDVantage Software, an
Internet company specialized in educational software
June Thompson (Hull, United Kingdom) / Manager of the C&IT (Communications &
Information Technology) Centre at the University of Hull
Paul Treanor (Netherlands) / Created a personal website with a section on thefuture of languages in Europe
François Vadrot * (Paris) / Founder, chairman and managing director of FTPress
(French Touch Press), a cybermedia company
Robert Ware (Colorado) / Creator of Onelook Dictionaries, a fast finder of wordsin 650 dictionaries
GUY ANTOINE (New Jersey)
#Founder of Windows on Haiti, a source of positive information about Haitianculture
*Interview of November 22, 1999
= Can you tell us about Windows on Haiti?
At the end of April 1998, I launched an Internet site, simple in concept, butambitious in its reach and overall scope. The site aims to be a major source ofinformation about Haitian culture, and a tool to counter the persistentlynegative images of Haiti from the traditional media. The scope of this effortextends beyond mere commentary to the diversity of arts and history, cuisine andmusic, literature and reminiscences of traditional Haitian life. It ispunctuated by a different sort of guestbook where the visitor's personaltestimony of his ties to Haiti is highly encouraged. In short, the site openssome new windows to the culture of Haiti.
= What exactly is your professional activity?
For the past 20 years, my professional activity has consisted of working withcomputers in various areas: system design, programming, networking,troubleshooting, assembling PCs, and web design. Finally, my primary web site,which has almost overnight become a hub of connectivity between diverse groupsand individuals interested in Haitian culture, has propelled me into aquasi-professional activity of information gathering, social commentary,editorial writing, and evangelism for the culture of Haiti.
= How did using the Internet change your professional and personal life?
The Internet has greatly changed both my professional and personal life. Due tothe constant flow of information, I sleep very much less now than I used to. Butthe greatest change has been in the multiplicity of contacts in cultural,academic, and journalistic circles, as well as with ordinary people around theglobe, that this activity has provided me. As a result, I am now a lot moreaware of professional resources around the world, related to my activity, and ofthe surprising level of international fascination with Haitian culture,religion, politics, and literature. On a personal level, this also means that Ihave quite a few more friends than before I immersed myself in this particularactivity.
= How do you see your professional future?
I see my professional future as an extension of what I do currently: usingtechnology to enhance intercultural exchanges. I hope to associate myself withthe right group of people to go beyond Haiti, and advance towards this ideal ofone world, one love.
= What do you think of the debate about copyright on the Web?
The debate will continue forever, as information becomes more conspicuous thanthe air that we breathe and more fluid than water. These days, one can purchasethe video of a film that was released just the week before, and it will not belong before one can watch scenes from one other's private life over the Netwithout his/her knowledge. What is daunting about the Internet is that so manyare willing to do the dirty work for free, as sort of an initiation rite. Thismindset will continue to exert increasing pressures on the issues of copyrightsand intellectual property.
Authors will have to become a lot more creative in terms of how to control thedissemination of their work and profit from it. The best that we can do rightnow is to promote basic standards of professionalism, and insist at the veryleast that the source and authorship of any work be duly acknowledged.Technology will have to evolve to support the authorization process.
= How do you see the growth of a multilingual Web?
Very positively. It is true that for all intents and purposes English willcontinue to dominate the Web. This is not so bad in my view, in spite ofregional sentiments to the contrary, because we do need a common language tofoster communications between people the world over. That being said, I do notadopt the doomsday view that other languages will just roll over in submission.Quite the contrary. The Net can serve, first of all, as a repository of usefulinformation on minority languages that might otherwise vanish without leaving atrace. Beyond that, I believe that it provides an incentive for people to learnlanguages associated with the cultures about which they are attempting to gatherinformation. One soon realizes that the language of a people is an essential andinextricable part of its culture.
From this standpoint, I have much less faith in mechanized tools of languagetranslation, which render words and phrases but do a poor job of conveying thesoul of a people. Who are the Haitian people, for instance, without "Kreyòl"(Creole for the non-initiated), the language that has evolved and bound variousAfrican tribes transplanted in Haiti during the slavery period? It is the mostpalpable exponent of commonality that defines us as a people. However, it isprimarily a spoken language, not a widely written one. I see the Web changingthis situation more so than any traditional means of language dissemination.
In Windows on Haiti, the primary language of the site is English, but one willequally find a center of lively discussion conducted in "Kreyòl". In addition,one will find documents related to Haiti in French, in the old colonial creole,and I am open to publishing others in Spanish and other languages. I do notoffer any sort of translation, but multilingualism is alive and well at thesite, and I predict that this will increasingly become the norm throughout theWeb.
= What is your best experience with the Internet?
People. The Web is an interconnected network of servers and personal computers,at the keyboard of which you will find a person, an individual. This hasafforded me the opportunity of testing my ideas, acquiring new ones, and best ofall, of forging personal friendships with people far away and eventually meetingthem.
= And your worst experience?
People. I do not want to expand on that, but some personalities simply have away of getting under your skin.
*Interview of June 29, 2001
= What has happened since our last interview?
Since our last interview, I have accepted the position of Director ofCommunications and Strategic Relations for Mason Integrated Technologies, acompany whose main objective is to create tools for communications, and theaccessibility of documents created in the world's minority languages. Due to theboard's experience in the matter, Haitian Creole (Kreyol) has been a prime areaof focus. Kreyol is the only national language of Haiti, and one of its twoofficial languages, the other being French. It is hardly a minority language inthe Caribbean context, since it is spoken by eight to ten million people.
Aside from those responsibilities, I have taken the promotion of Kreyol as apersonal cause, since that language is the strongest of bonds uniting allHaitians, in spite of a small but disproportionately influential Haitian elite'sdisdainful attitude to adopting standards for the writing of Kreyol andsupporting the publication of books and official communications in thatlanguage. For instance, there was