[Wikimediaindia-l] (OT) On the importance of Unicode

Gautam John gautam at prathambooks.org
Thu Feb 17 05:59:27 UTC 2011

Hey Everyone:

This one isn't directly connected with Wikimedia projects but is,
IMHO, one element of any Wikimedia project in India - Unicode.

I'm trying to bring together some ideas as to why Unicode is
important, what the upsides and downsides are. My initial thoughts:

1. While there are many ways to achieve a legal framework for
inter-operable content (CC, GFDL, PD or the Copyright Act Amendment
for the PI) etc. there needs to be a technical framework for such
interoperability as well.
2. Given that we publish in Indian languages, using Unicode fonts are
the only way to achieve cross-platform interoperability and is a
global standard.
3. Given India's push towards copyright reform for the print impaired,
it is imperative that Unicode fonts be used in the creation of Indic
content because it is otherwise a huge barrier to conversion to
print-friendly formats.
4. Unicode, being an open global standard guarantees content
accessibility in the future and ensures no proprietary font and vendor
lock in.
5. The limitation is on the lack of high quality and varied typefaces
that are both screen and print optimised open type Indic Unicode
6. Given the importance of linguistic diversity to India's cultural
heritage, it is imperative that greater attention is paid to the
development of such fonts under licenses that allow for free re-use
and to fix issues in the fonts that might arise.
7. The Govt. should fund the open development of at least 5 such fonts
for each the 21 Constitutionally recognised languages and make these
available not just for free, but under free license to re-use and
improve as well.
8. The GoI has recognised this and notified Unicode 5.1.0 as the
de-facto standard for all eGovernance projects. This standard needs to
be more widely adopted for all Government digital projects and any
software or content procurement as well.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you.



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