Re: Institutionalizing locales? (RE: How to lock a guest account?)

From: Ed Trager (
Date: Mon Jan 25 2010 - 11:07:30 CST

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    To toss into the fray an idea which undoubtedly has crossed the minds
    of many readers of this list already, we must first recognize that the
    idea of a "locale" is really a rather constraining and limiting
    concept. Too constraining and limited for my taste.

    Just as I do not like to wear a tight-fitting suit with a neck tie
    that throttles my neck, so also I do not like rigid and inflexible
    locale mechanisms within operating systems. It's much more
    comfortable to have loose-fitting clothing, expandable waistlines, and
    take the tie off altogether.

    A locale, such as a locale in CLDR, is a bundle of data items that are
    supposed to represent a "concensus" about the most accepted formats.
    Heh heh. But in many communities, there may not be any true concensus
    out there in the real "cloud" of the society.

    Societies across the modern world daily become more pluralistic.
    Achieving absolute concensus may not be compatible with increasing
    pluralism in our societies.

    As a personal example, here in America the short date format is
    supposed to be "MM-DD-YYYY" -- and that really drives me up the
    frickin' wall. I work in a medical research setting, and of course we
    have collaborators who send us data from all over the world. Can you
    imagine how many *useless* hours I have spent trying to tease out
    whether a date is really "DD-MM-YYYY" instead of "MM-DD-YYYY"? So, in
    all of the applications that I write, everyone is forced to enter
    dates in the unambiguous ISO "YYYY-MM-DD" format which is neither the
    American nor the British way. But that only solves the problem in my
    little corner of the world that I can control. Often when data are
    exported out of databases and into containers like OpenOffice or
    Excel, guess what happens? The dates "revert" to "MM-DD-YYYY" format
    because these programs are using the operating systems defaults.

    I much prefer the idea of having an OS where I can set the individual
    parameters of a locale -- and then those settings would actually be
    respected by software across the board.

    Of course that doesn't really solve CLDR's problem, does it? So,
    maybe a solution for a data repository like CLDR would be to allow
    storage of multiple choices per locale for all of those really pesky
    and hotly-debated data items, like date formats or which day of the
    week is supposed to be the first day of the week?

    Maybe there needs to be a public voting mechanism where people's votes
    determine the respective rankings of disputed data items? Maybe CLDR
    should be like and have little "thumbs up" and
    "thumbs down" icons that the public can vote on? :-)

    - Ed

    On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 9:38 AM, Yury Tarasievich
    <> wrote:
    > I don't see the purpose of such datasets as some vehicles of consensus. For
    > a sake of argument, there is no metadata, no clear definition of 'community'
    > and even of 'consensus'. Once some cr*p makes it into the dataset, one may
    > argue till all went blue, the crap remains. I went through such motions year
    > or two ago, achieving nil.
    > Now, you tell me you don't have formal authority in Finland. But that's a
    > basis for decision on Finnish dataset, precisely.
    > So, to answer your initial assertion, I wouldn't put it quite like that but,
    > well, yes. Better no entry at all, than an entry poorly prepared, even
    > misleading.
    > On 25.01.2010 12:37, Erkki I. Kolehmainen wrote:
    >> What you seem to be effectively saying is that the users don't need
    >> localized systems. If they do, the user community is the only one to know
    >> what is right for them. CLDR has made a mechanism public that allows
    >> interested parties in any given user community to participate in the
    >> definition process. They should use the opportunity and conduct an open
    >> debate within and outside of the CLDR structure aiming at a consensus (like
    >> we do in Finland where we have NO FORMAL AUTHORITY but a widely participated
    >> and accepted process that leads to relatively solid data.)
    >> Admittedly, the CLDR Survey Tool doesn't have enough resources to
    >> effectively handle any sizable volume, and something should be done about
    >> it.

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