Is Iran back in the tourist map?

Ben Affleck reminded us yesterday that Iran exists with the dramatisation of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

The Canadians are not happy nor are the Iranians. The former have been stripped of the chance to tell and boast about a seriously good story, the latter, well, the whole world is reminded once again who the bad guys are.

Iran has not been getting any good press for decades now. Deservedly so? I really don´t want to make that judgement right now. What I want, instead, is to leave politics, religion and extremism behind (as if one could, I hear you saying…) and have a fair look at a country renown for the hospitality of its people, a country rich in history and tradition,  stunningly beautiful women and centuries old treasures.

Iran´s growing tourism industry

The U.N. World Tourism Organisation reported that  from 2004 to 2010, the annual increase in tourists visiting foreign countries was 3.2 percent. Iran, on the other hand, presented  a growing trend with figures over the same period showing tourism in this country grew at a much faster clip — 12.7 percent. The number of foreign tourists in Iran reached 3 million in 2011, contributing more than $2 billion to the national economy, according to Iranian data. Tour operators in Iran confirm the number sore last year.

But who are these foreign visitors? Most of us will probably be hard pressed to find someone amongst our circle of friends who had visited Iran. The restrictions imposed by Iranian authorities deter most Western tourists who prefer destinations where alcohol is easily accessible and women can enjoy the sun without having to worry about Islamic modesty. However, a small share of tourists to the country (approximately 10% of the total number of visitors) are attracted by the country’s  seemingly countless ancient sites ^( and its reputation for hospitality and, find their way into Iran from North America (more than 1,000 Americans visited Iran as tourists last year, according to the Iranian Tour Operators Association) and the European Union including Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Belgium, and China.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organisation has plans to further expand tourism in the areas of eco tourism, coastlines, restoration of historical relics, handicraft township and health tourism, particularly in the country´s  most popular tourist destinations of Esfahan, Mashhad, Qom, Persepolis and Shiraz.  Besides, to further the growth in this industry and to encourage domestic and foreign direct investment in this sector, the 50 per cent tax exemption ^( previously granted to tourism ^( enterprises has been extended to include five-star hotels.

If you are one of those inclined to explore the unexplored, I suggest you browse Irpedia ^(, one of Iran´s most complete resources for foreign travellers. I was once tempted, many, many years ago, when I was only 19, to visit this incredible place, but had a change of heart after visiting the Iranian embassy in Madrid, and had to undergo a fairly intimidating interrogation by what seemed to be a group of very intimidating men. I thought I´d leave Iran for a next time. Perhaps the time is approaching…

Esfehan – 33 pol
Fateme Masumeh shrine and Feiziyah madrasa, Qom
Fatimah al-Ma’sūmah in Qom, Iran
Arg-e Bam , Iran (Citadel of Bam, Unesco world heritage)
Masjed-e Vakil, Shiraz
Persepolis 7- Shiraz
Esfahan market
Hamhen, Pirzan Kolun and Mehrchal peaks from Sarakchal mountains
Imam Reza, Masshad, Iran
Sabalan volcano, Northwestern Iran

A new era for Indigenous languages in Australia?

Every year, on the 26th of January, we celebrate Australia Day. We enjoy a day off work and we gather at friends´ places to share the symbolic BBQ with family and friends, we honour notable Australians and we invite new citizens into our family.

Australia Day this year marks the day when the First Fleet landed in these shores some 225 years ago. That part of history, though, and how the conquest developed, most of you already know and I don´t intent to get into right now. But as a result of that particular historical event, the (lives), languages and traditions of many native Australian were lost. And from a very humble and respectful point of view, that´s what I´d like to discuss today.

The worldwide ¨death¨ of minority languages 

As far back as 2011, the United Nations warned that up to 90% of the world’s languages could die out over the next century. Of the estimated 5,000 to 7,000 spoken languages in the world, between 4,000 to 5,000 of these are classed as indigenous. Over 2,500 indigenous languages worldwide are in danger of being extinct immediately. This is a threat to the environment and a loss of much valuable knowledge about nature and the community´s culture and tradition.

Before British colonialisation began in 1788, around 250 aboriginal languages were spoken in Australia by an estimated one million people. Now, 470,000 aboriginal people speak only 145 languages in a nation of 22 million –  what´s worse: 110 of these are severely or critically endangered. In fact, National Geographic has identified northern Australia as a “global hotspot”, where endangered languages face a “severe threat” of extinction.

Today, Aboriginal Australians are an impoverished minority, with a lifespan 17 years shorter than the national average and disproportionately high rates of imprisonment, heart disease and infant mortality. Education programs for Indigenous Australians are decades behind those in neighbouring New Zealand where western and traditional Maori languages are combined in education programs from preschool right through university.

But my intention today, though, is not to reiterate the damage that decades of linguistic and cultural oppresion have inflicted on Indigenous Australians. Instead, I think we need to infuse some positive hope into this issue.

Baby steps towards Reconciliaton

A Reconciliation process began in 1991 with the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Royal Commission recommended that ¨all political leaders and their parties recognise that reconciliation between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians must be achieved if community division, discord and injustice to Indigenous Australians were to be avoided¨ (from ^(

A Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was soon set up to promote reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community and achieve a formal reconciliation by the year 2001—the centenary of Federation.

On the 13th of February 2008, former Primer Minister Kevin Rudd offered a broad apology to all Aborigines and the Stolen Generations for their “profound grief, suffering and loss” in a carefully worded statement that was greeted by a standing ovation. But Mr Rudd was criticised by indigenous leaders for emphasising symbolism over substance and not doing more in the fields of health and education.

On the 3rd of April 2009, Australia formally adopted the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration stresses the right of indigenous people to their own cultures, institutions and traditions and it establishes standards to combat discrimination and marginalisation and eliminate human rights violations against them.

Although the declaration was not legally binding, it was a step beyond the stance adopted by earlier conservative governments who insisted that the declaration could override existing laws and give unfair advantage to Aborigines.

¨ Our Land Our Languages¨ report

September last year saw the publication of the findings of an inquiry by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs into language learning on Aboriginal communities. Entitled Our Land Our Languages ^(, the report clearly estates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who speak an Indigenous language enjoy “markedly” better health and are more likely to be employed, attend school and receive a post-school qualification than those who do not. They are also less likely to abuse alcohol, be charged by police or be a victim of violence.

The recommendations in Our Land Our Language were welcomed by bilingual education advocates who have long campaigned for more support and funding for the urgent work of teaching children to speak, read and write their own language, particularly in the Northern Territory, where bilingual education was dramatically scaled back four years ago ^( by the same Labor government who issued the infamous apology.

In the NT, about 40% of children speak a language other than English at home so a bilingual education is crucial. The report recommended “resourcing bilingual school education programs for Indigenous communities where the child’s first language is an Indigenous language”, as well as  ¨compulsory cultural awareness training¨ for all teachers working in Aboriginal communities.

Very importantly too, the report recommended that Indigenous languages be recognised in the Australian constitution.

Minister for School Education Peter Garrett had promised to “talk to state governments about adopting bilingual education for Indigenous children”. He acknowledged that school attendance would improve if children were taught in their own languages for the early years. However, recent past, Labor and Coalition governments´emphasis on the importance of English as the predominant language in education make his assertion a little hard to believe.

The fact that the report was released less than a month after the Northern Territory elections, which saw the Country Liberal Party (CLP) swept to power on a strong bush vote, also makes its agenda a little dubious. The CLP has talked up the importance of first-language learning but it has not released any detailed policy or funding commitments.

Whatever the motives, what matters now is for governments start putting funding and resource commitments on the table and don´t revert back to easier, more symbolic programs that let the actual hard work fall by the wayside.

A true aboriginal revival – the Kaurna language

Once spoken by the original inhabitants of Adelaide, the Kaurna language began to disappear from daily use in South Australia as early as the 1860s. Ivaritji, an elder who was thought to be the last fluent speaker of Kaurna, died in the late 1920s. More than 80 years later, researchers digging through historical archives produced by religious groups and colonial officials, are bringing the Kaurna language back to life.

It has been a painstakingly painful process that involved putting the pieces together of a puzzle left by two Germans missionaries, Christian Teichelmann and Clamor Schurmann. Within 18 months of their arrival in South Australia in 1838, the missionaries had produced a vocabulary of about 2,000 Kaurna words, around 200 translated sentences and key elements of grammar. They also opened a school that used the Kaurna language as a medium of instruction for almost six years before colonial authorities, who only tolerated the use of English in schools, shut it down.

University of Adelaide linguist Dr Robert Emery, explains that ¨the Kaurna language belongs to this place, to the Adelaide Plains, so it has the kind of vocabulary, the words to talk about the places here, to talk about the environment, to talk about the species that inhabit this environment.” The language is now growing and adapting to the demands of modern life, new words  for phone, computer and conference being created based on  original grammar and structures – panpapanpalya means conference, warraityi is a phone (literally the voice-sending thing), while computer is mukarntu (lightening brain).

There are several hotspots of linguistic activity across much of northern Australia and in the central desert region around Alice Springs. Aboriginal languages are living history – a reflection of thousands of years of ecological, spiritual and social knowledge and should be encouraged and supported.

Want to join Russia´s (virtual) space project? – Now could be the right time

Last year was quite an eventful time for our happy little office. Amongst many light-hearted events and team-building exercises involving fancy-dressed bowling, trivia quizzes and soccer competitions, every now and then, we sat down and did some serious work (I hope my boss is not reading this :)). A major project in particular, one that involved the revision, translation and localisation of 38 different countries, kept us focused for great part of the year.

Many lessons were learnt – and documented –  on a variety of topics relating to languages and website readability and localisation. But if I was asked to highlight something from that year-long project it would be the amount of research, detail and ¨digital empathy¨required to achieve a website that accommodates to the expectations of audiences in countries like China, Japan. Korea and Russia.

I have previously written about some of the areas that need particular attention when creating a website for JapaneseChinese and Korean audiences. Russia, though, stood out for me because my lack of previous contact with the country and its language. So,here are some of our findings:

To start with, a caveat. Although Russia tends to conjure thoughts of vast territories and a large population in most people´s minds, this does not immediately translate into widespread Internet usage. Out of nearly 140 million people, approximately 60 million were  using the Internet in 2010, a percentage unlike Korea´s, for instance, where the number of web users is more than 81%.

What´s most remarkable about Russia though, is that in 2007 the number of persons using the Internet was less than 30 million. In a very short span, and  even though most Internet users still concentrate in major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, this growth rate could well place this nation within the next three to five years in the top five worldwide Internet markets  side by side Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, the US and China.

Even in the area of e-commerce and despite having quite a lot of catching up to do in terms of consumer credit – an expected consequence of decades of government-controlled availability of goods and disposable income – development has been fast and steady. According to com-Score ^( Russia showed the highest growth in online retail penetration in Europe in 2011, a rate nearly twice as fast as that of Europe as a whole.

Search engines  

Yet ANother inDEX, or Yandex ^(, is the dominant search media in Russia, with 61% market share traffic in 2011 shared with Google 25%, 7.1%, Rambler and Bing both with 1%. A full-service portal providing a variety of additional services to users (real-time search, email, mapping, comparison shopping, etc), Yandex generated nearly 11 billion page views per month already in 2010 for Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus.

But Yandex is crossing borders fast and it opened a US office in Boston, creating ^( to allow searchers to query for sites in other Latin characters, mainly English.

And yet, when you approach Yandex for the first time, as is the case with many other local search engines, you need to take your Google hat off and begin taking into account the local specifics and the structural elements of the Russian language. So, I´m going to reiterate what I´ve already insisted on before:

Do NOT merely translate from English using an automatic translator. It does not work. Whether you simply want to put an ad in Yandex or whether your intentions are to establish a more in-depth presence, you need to get a native Russian speaker, preferably one with copywriting and SEO local knowledge.

And another thing. As silly as this reminder may sound to you: do NOT attempt to make your way into Russia by writing  your copy in English. As you can imagine, that does not work either as only about 5% of Russians speak English.

A good place to start is by recognising Moscow and St Petersburg as major civic, cultural and financial centres and realise the preferential treatment they receive from Russian search engines because of their prominence. So, you are more likely to get it right by geotargetting those two cities because the Internet service providers have more accurate data for them than for other parts of Russia.

Remember that Yandex rates sites using a system similar to Google´s page rank called a ¨citation index¨, which ranges information found from 0 to 150,000. The higher a website´s citation index, the more authority it has. Organic ranking in Yandex favours good-quality, rich content. So, if your aim is to reach Russian audiences, you need to remember that despite its expansion into other languages, Yandex needs to satisfy its native speaker searchers first and foremost. Have your content written in Russian and use a Russian country code top-level domain (.ru) in cyrillic characters and Yandex will recognise your site as relevant to its customers.

Unlike China, getting a Russian domain is simple. If you produce some form of  ID, almost any registrar will allow you to register .ru domains (both in latin and/or cyrillic characters). Getting your site indexed is not complex either. The Yandex webmaster tools can help you with that process as well as connect you to Yandex´s API and assist you with keyword search to gain more visibility in their index.

Russian language and cyrillic script

Regional linguistic and cultural differences compound to the already inherent difficulty of the Russian language for outsiders (for instance, the perplexing use of six grammatical cases). This means that search queries will likely be phrased differently in different regions. So, in order to get your keywords right, you need to have someone who understands regional vernacular, idiom and even spelling variations in different parts of Russia.

Because of the language barrier, getting visibility online is not easy. A good way is to associate yourself with online press release  services that include translations and distribution to major consumer, business and trade presses: Sovanet and specialise in online copywriting, translating and public relations for the Russian market and they are worth your initial investment.

For those interested in crossing virtual borders, the Russian online market presents loads of opportunities. As crucial as it is to have a firm understanding of the role that cultural, linguistic and regional differences will play when establishing an online presence in Russia, don´t let the grammatical impossibility of the language and its alphabet discourage you. It might be a race well worth joining.

How Important are Words? (Post 29)

Reblogged from Sweet Mother: ^(

How Important are Words? (Post 29) ^(

Writers are in love with words and so are comedians.  However, I would say there’s a BIG difference between the spoken word and the written word.  For example, I have no problem cursing like a sailor when I’m on a stand up stage.  I think that’s because there’s a smoke-like quality to speaking.  You say something – it may stun or shock or cause a laugh or a tear, but then it’s gone.

Translation industry forecast for 2013 – The AAA (Africa, Arab, Asia) and AT (Automated translation) moment

The translation and localisation industry has been defying economic trends for quite some time now. While the world´s economy insists on slowing down, the language industry continues its steep ascent with a 12% growth expected in 2013.

If you are a freelance translator, though, trying to make a decent living, these figures might contradict the struggle you face to get a job booked, late payments from demanding clients or the ever decreasing rates you get awarded for a job well done.

So, what are the trends we need to watch out for to ensure we get a fair share of the approximately US$35 billion the language industry turns around per year?

A triple A moment

Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of the Globalization an ^( Localization Association (GALA) ^(, indicates that the rapid spread of the Internet in what he calls the Triple A markets ( African, Asian and Arabic) compounded to the economic growth expected in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East is accelerating the demand for more translation and localisation services for languages in these regions.


While markets everywhere are suffering the effects of a severe economic crisis, Africa is  experiencing its longest income boom for over 30 years, with gross domestic product growth rates averaging about 5 per cent annually over the past decade. The IMF forecasts the continent’s income to increase by around 4.5 per cent and seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies to be African. Nations like Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria are expected to expand by more than 6 per cent a year until 2015.

The mobile phone industry is reaping the rewards of the economic progress now felt in these countries. Africa is the fastest growing region for mobiles in the world, and the biggest after Asia, according to the GSM Association. There are now an estimated 700m sim cards in Africa.”What happened in the UK and US at the turn of the century is now happening in Africa on the mobile platform¨, explains Gareth Knight, a 35-year-old South African based in London, founder of the series of Tech4africa conferences ^( ¨The market is much bigger than the original one in the UK and US. More and more people are going to get online in the next couple of years and they’ll want all the same things.”

This unparalleled economic growth has created an enormous demand for translation into African languages. Companies wanting to establish their presence in some of the wealthier nations like Angola and Mozambique are in need of Portuguese translations, for instance. In Nigeria, whilst the official language is English, telecommunication or pharmaceutical companies will consider having their marketing material translated into at least one additional local language or possibly even two or three of the most widely spoken tongues dependin on the nature of the product and the demographics of the target market and the speakers´disposable income.

Finance and insurance, mining, tourism, legal, government departments and life sciences are also fields that will require translations into African languages and vice versa.

The Arab world

Arab is widely used in countries that present sound business opportunities for foreign investors like the UAE, Dubai and Qatar. Trade and import/export liberalisation have made some of the countries in the Middle East very attractive investment havens and this has resulted in an ever increasing demand of Arabic translators capable of translating mainly into English but also into other languages like French and German.

Interestingly, a report compiled by translation supplier The Word Point also noted a dramatic increase in English to Arabic and Arabic to English translations during and after the outbreak of popular uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Demand for Arabic – English translations (in both directions) increased in 2011 by 31%. , with media and communications and financial and business related translations seeing the areas where the increase was most felt. Demand for French-Arabic services increased 20%.


Members of the Translation Association of China ^( participating in its annual conference in May 2011 agreed that the current Chinese translation industry is short of professional training and emphasised that only a small portion of the one million people who are providing translation service in China hold professional qualifications.

Before the extensive demand for qualified Chinese translators and localisation experts the government of China approved in 2009 forty training programs for professional translators and interpreters in leading universities throughout the country. However, no matter how many native Chinese translators are produced in China, the fact is that globally speaking, there are fewer than 10 qualified interpreters whose mother tongue is English (or any other language for that matter) and who can translate between English (or any other language) and Chinese.

William White, an experienced freelance interpreter who used to work for the Delegation of the European Union to China, attests to this. White is now based in Beijing, and his daily fee has been increasing at an annual rate of about 10 percent in recent years thanks to the tight market. “In peak seasons like April and September, it’s really hard to find professional interpreters, as there are many international conferences and qualified interpreters are all occupied.”

So, if you have the time and patience to get involved in the apprenticeship of the Chinese language, the demand for professionals capable of translating into English and other European languages is definitely out there. The same can be said for other Asian languages, Japanese to some extent, but also languages from countries that are slowly taking the manufacturing relay from China, like Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Automated translation

To quote the words from GALA CEO Hans Fenstermacher, “despite the advent of the most advanced automated translations in a generation, businesses increasingly need professional translation services to maintain their brands. To sell worldwide, businesses must look and sound as if they’re right next door”. The economic downturn experienced by the developed economies means that it is that much more important to communicate to customers regardless of their geographical location. Transcreation and localisation become crucial, as I have already discussed elsewhere.

Automated translation might have replaced some of the very basic communication needs that result from a number of intercultural and interlinguistic exchanges (the likes of the very handy Google translate or Bing translations). And yet, it is the same automation, technology itself and the ever increasing content that keeps on being uploaded onto the net that create new opportunities for translators and for the language translation industry.

The rapid increase of language combinations and the faster delivery deadlines, professional project and quality management have already become and will continue to be more significant in future. Technology will allow translations to be performed directly in the client’s CMS system. Translation agencies will adopt further project management tasks, which currently are performed by the companies themselves. I have also discussed in earlier articles how this change is affecting the nature of the tasks performed by translators.

Effective Data Management System (DMS) and Content Management System (CMS) will be basic prerequisites to enable cost-saving and terminologically consistent translations in a translation industry where the quantity of documents to be translated becomes a concern. The application of CAT tools is imperative to create terminology databases, glossaries, etc.

To ensure terminological consistency and to simplify terminology work companies are now making their translation databases accessible to other companies. Skrivanek, together with 42 other leading companies, recently founded the
so-called TAUS Data Association (TDA), which enables its members to share translation files. All members load their language combinations onto a server in the form of Translation Memories or multilingual glossaries and can in return download the language pairs of other members. This creates an immense volume of linguistic data. (Source: ^(

Educational institutions churning the translators of the future have to make a concerted effort in order to adequately prepare them for this continuously changing industry. Poetry translation classes are indeed vary valuable but technology and localisation needs to become core subjects in the curriculi of tertiary institutions. So are business and project management subjects that prepare the younger generations for a profession that every time more will require them to deal with clients and agencies all over the world.

As Einstein once said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”  Technology is making the translation industry change at a very fast pace. So, we either change the way we understand the profession or we´d better look for a new one!

Professionalism: Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, Commitment to Privacy and Confidentiality

Reblogged from 21st Century Global Village: ^(

Professionalism: Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, Commitment to Privacy and Confidentiality ^(

On December 21, 2012, at 9am EST, I will be presenting a session to the members of the Certified PRO Network in, on yet another topic for professional translators and interpreters working in the Global Village of the 21st Century: professionalism, from the standpoint of codes of ethics and standards of practice.  This time I will place the stress on behavior, rather than technical knowledge or abilities.

Read more… 2,242 more words ^(

Congratulations – If you are reading this you are part of the Global Digital Culture of 2012 and beyond

The end of the year is coming to a close, hell, who knows if even the much talked about Mayan apocalyptic end could be upon us (as even Australia’s Prime Minister is warning us about):

But whether we are invaded by flesh eating zombies or whether we are allowed to continue to web our insignificant microcosmic lives in this infinite universe, if I were to find a word that marked 2012  for me, I would borrow the expression “Epic change ^(” from  fellow blogger Tim Rayner.

Having started Digital cultures and translation this year has dragged me into the vortex of digital global communications and into a speedy and steady flow of digital conversations, causes, actions,  petitions, exchanges, advocacy, praise and complaint… a vortex that engulfs everything you do because whatever it is you are thinking or reading or writing, you want to share it, comment it, like it or dislike it, post it, tweet it, pin it, learn it, tumblr it… you name it – you just want others to be part of what you are thinking,  whether it is with an image, a video, a haiku (Yepirate ^( being the best at that!), a tender poem (like Subhan Zein ^(’s), an amazing animation (Nonoymanga ^( or a full-fledged, brilliantly written and extremely informative articles like those by Storiesbywilliam ^(’s.

Exchanging conversations with the great pirate of the Laplands about all things ‘independence’ or with fellow translators from Russia, Italy, China about the future of this profession now more and more threatened by low Internet job rates and technological advancements that tend to replace at least some of the translator’s previous tasks, I have come to think about the existence of a global cultural identity, a virtual place where a catalan born Australian resident talks about Scottish independence with a Finish “pirate’ while exchanging sci-fi best moments with a prolific writer from the US.  A space where time and place are irrelevant, where political boundaries are non-existent. An egalitarian space open to everyone.

Yes, very nice, very romantic, very utopian.

But can we really say we have we accomplished this somewhat superior stage in global cultural identity?

Hang on, let’s rewind.

Here I am, talking about a Global Cultural identity when elsewhere in this very same blog I refused to commit to even a definition of culture. In the concluding remarks of that same article I wondered:

1.    Is it possible to have the endless number of conceptualisations of the world that each and everyone one of us create justly represented in today’s digital world [in order to then create an ensemble of world representations called perhaps, ‘global culture]?

2.    Is it our responsibility to make a concerted effort to ensure that cultural/personal/generational/gender/etc diversity is fairly represented on the net or,the endless number of conceptualisations of the world that each and everyone one of us create justly represented in today’s digital world [in order to then create an ensemble of world representations called perhaps, ‘global culture]?

3.    Should we take this unique chance to move towards a universalised digital world?

I’ve had more than six months since I started DGAT to think about these issues and at this stage I think my answers will have to be:

 Yes – Yes – No.

Yes, I think there is now and endless and ever growing number of conceptualisations of the world imprinted in the net – your blog, your poem, your image, your song, your haiku, your critique, your petition, each and every form of expression says something about the way each one of us mirrors our reality. Every single one of those representations are a unique, inimitable sliver of our history that merges with endless others to form a morphing global entity we could call “global digital culture”.

The concept I have in mind, however, differs from  (in fact, it is antagonistic to) some of the meanings assigned to global or mass culture by the media – the homogenised, westernised consummer imperialistic culture that dominates in malls around the world.

My understanding of Global Digital Culture resembles Roland Robertson’s ^( Symmetrical Global Gemeinschaft 2 – a microcosm of ordered equal communities and individuals with considerable sociocultural exchange among them. In this construct, global order rests on a globe-wide collective conscience where humankind is the pivotal ingredient of the world as a whole. The dangers of mass consumer globalisation are here to be overcome by a commitment to the communal unity of the human species. Universalism and particularism intertwined become both a basic feature of our global digital world. This entity is committed to a world system of societies that constitutes the major unavoidable dimension of the contemporary global human condition much like recent peace and environmental movements or even romantic Marxism have done.

So, to answer question number one, YES, I do believe it is possible to have an endless number of conceptualisations of the world represented on the net, in fact, I believe that is what’s happening as we speak. We are creating a timeless, egalitarian space source of curated knowledge and representation of historical opinions for our future generations. This space is at once universal and personalised and generally reactionary.

And, to answer my own question number two, it sure is our responsibility to encourage diversity in this universal sub-culture when we are facing such a daunting extermination of traditional practices everywhere. David Rieff, senior fellow  ^( the World Policy Institute says: 

“We are stuck with the global culture, just as we are stuck with world capitalism. Like the latter, the former will be more or less successful in different parts of the world. […] Those who yearn for authenticity, for the preservation or restoration of the traditional, will not prevail because of the brute fact that traditional societies – of which traditional culture is a product – cannot support their populations in a period of rapid increases in the world population.”

I believe we have an obligation to use what’s been given to us to use it as an antidote to the negative effects of globalisation everwhere, speak for those that cannot speak on their own, share  the knowledge that should not be the privilege of just a wealthy elite and promote causes that are worth promoting. So far, we are doing a pretty good job of it:

Let’s enter 2013 doing what we do best, improving on it and encouraging others to contribute to this community, always retaining our virtual/real identity, never (and here comes the answer to my third and last question) aiming to lose it by creating an amorphous  entity that gobbles up our personal DNA.

Blog of the 2012 year award nominations

Somewhere in the infinity that is the Internet universe, The Blazing trail ( ^( has found DCAT and felt it deserved to be nominated for the:

Whatever use of words I chose to show The Blazing trail my appreciation will not compare to the skillful art of narrative shown in this site – a prove that the digital community has an immense pool of hidden talent that needs to be nurtured and shared.

And in order to do so, these are the other blogs I nominate for the Blog of the 2012 year award:

  • ^(
  • ^(
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‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Rules

(This has been copied word for word for accuracy. It is suggested you do the same…makes posting easy!)

Do you know a blog that deserves an award? Do you have special blogs that you love to read? Which blogs do you bookmark and follow? Would you like to give them an award this year? Then the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award is for you!  The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.

2 Write a blog post and name/tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award  ^( include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join The Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group ^( and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…  Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect! Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different! When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star! There are a total of 6 stars to collect. Which means that you can check out your favorite blogs – and even if they have already been given the award by someone else – you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Badges There are six badges for you to collect – you can either ‘swap’ your badge for the next one each time you are given the award – or even proudly display all six badges if you are lucky enough to be presented with the award six times! ~ Need to know more? Check out the FAQ page And Congratulations! on being chosen for the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award! ~‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – thumbnails Here are the 6 awards in thumbnail size for your sidebar – feel free to Right Click and save any of the images on this page:

© Blog of the Year Award
© Blog of the Year Award
© Blog of the Year Award
© Blog of the Year Award

And if you are planning on having a break, go ahead and enjoy some re-energising time. I hope to get inspired by the gorgeous mountain tracks in New Zealand

Gmail Now Supports Cherokee, Its First Native American Tribal Language

Reblogged from TechCrunch: ^(

Gmail Now Supports Cherokee, Its First Native American Tribal Language ^(

Google just announced that it has added Cherokee as Gmail’s 57th supported language ^( While Google has continuously expanded its language support for Gmail and its other services, this marks the first time that Google has added a Native American tribal language to its repertoire.

Google, of course, isn’t doing this because of the large number of Cherokee ^( Gmail users who are demanding support for their language.

Read more… 143 more words ^(

Cherokee online to encourage younger generations to use a language that would otherwise be soon lost. Good stuff.

El mercado en línea japonés (2) – evita el harakiri digital

En “No te olvides del sol naciente – el mercado en línea japonés” quise recordar que aunque de la impresión que Japón se esconda bajo la sombra del resto de los ascendientes gigantes Asiáticos, las estadísticas nos demuestran que es un mercado digital que no podemos dejar de lado.

Lo importante ahora es aprender cómo adentrarse a este único mercado en línea sin cometer harakiri digital y comercial. No caigas en el mismo error en el que otras empresas han caído durante tanto tiempo, al asumir que las estrategias de marketing digital y optimización de motores de búsqueda que utilizan en su país de origen podrían ser traducidas literalmente al japonés. Grave error. Aunque las variaciones dialécticas no son un problema serio en Japón, la complejidad escrita del idioma y las posibles representaciones de cada palabra en cada región, hacen que sea imprescindible acompañarse de un profesional nativo del idioma.


Pero no hay que desalentarse. Como comentábamos en la primera entrega de esta serie dedicada al mercado digital japonés, el cambio de Yahoo!Japan a Google hace que simplemente tengas que encontrar la manera de destacarte en una única herramienta de búsqueda, y que además solo tengas que gestionar tus campañas de pago por clic en Google. Eso te ahora complejidad, tiempo y dinero.

Pago por clic ^(

En diciembre del 2010, Google anunció una serie de cambios en el formato de la publicidad por medio de AdWords, permitiendo a partir de entonces, el uso de un mayor número de caractereres japoneses en los títulos y en las descripciones de los anuncios. Esta decisión ayuda a los publicitantes en Google AdWords Japan porque las palabras clave utilizadas en japonés suelen ser mucho más largas que en otros idiomas, y porque este lenguaje ocupa dos espacios de código en linea por cada caracter. Un mayor número de caracteres significa mayor eficacia publicitaria. Así que, gracias, Google, por facilitar las cosas.

Posicionamiento orgánico ^(

Google abarca la mayor parte del mercado y alimenta los resultados de las búsquedas efectuadas a través de Yahoo!Japan y Rakuten ^(; por lo tanto, centra tus esfuerzos en aparecer en buena posición en Google. Es decir, asegúrate de que Google sepa que quieres que tu página aparezca en Japón. ¿Cómo? ¿Cómo le indicas al gigante de la búsqueda que te interesa el país del sol naciente? Teniendo en cuenta los siguientes factores:

  • Dominio de nivel superior geográfico ^(

En el ámbito del marketing en motores de búsqueda, tu URL (localizador uniforme de recursos ^( o la dirección de tu página web, es la primera pieza de código de tu página que el algoritmo de Google escanéa. Si Google se encuentra con los dominios .es o .cn, asume que te interesa que la página se despliegue en los resultados de España o de China. Así que cuando establezcas tu página web, es importante que registres dominios en los países a los que esperas llevar tu negocio, en este caso, Japón, es decir, con las siglas .jp.

Si esta opción no te resulta práctica en el momento de iniciar tu empresa, crea extensiones basadas en tu versión original .com, es decir, ^( En tal caso, asegúrate que le indicas cláramente a Google en las herramientas para webmasters de Google, cuál es el mercado que quieres priorizar.

  • El lenguaje de tu página web

El lenguage en el que está redactada tu página web es también un indicador del país o paises al que quieres dirigirte. El idioma japonés es especialmente fácil de detectar para Google que no tiene que diferenciar de qué país se trata, como le ocurre en el caso de idiomas hablados en varios países (español, el árabe o el inglés).

  • Datos de la empresa en la página web

Si tu página web incluye una dirección física en el país en el que quieres aparecer en los listados de Google, en este caso Japón, a este motor de búsqueda le resulta más sencillo identificar tu país objetivo.

  • Enlaces entrantes

Sabemos que Google depende en gran parte de los enlaces entrantes para calificar el nivel de popularidad de una página y para determinar dónde colocarla en los ránkings. Así que cuando crees una version de tu página en otro país, asegúrate de utilizar enlaces a esta página local de páginas provenientes únicamentes de este país (Japón).

  • Google Places ^(

Es importante también incluir en Google Places  cualquier información sobre la ubicación de tu empresa ya que ésto informa a Google sobre dónde quieres aparecer en las búsquedas.

  • Palabras clave

Normalmente una de las partes más problematicas al crear y posicionar una página web en  Japón, ya que el idioma japonés presenta cuatro grupos de caracteres diferentes que los internautas utilizan indiscriminadamente al efectuar sus búsquedas en Internet. Por ellos te conviene contratar los servicios  de un profesional local del sector que te ayude a encontrar el grupo de caracteres con mayores probabilidades de ser utilizados por los internautas del país al buscar productos y servicios como los tuyos.

Aquí tienes algunas agencias que podrán ayudarte en tu posicionamiento en la red japonesa:

Gaijin Web ^(

Pek Japan ^(

Nakamura Communications ^(

Portal Japan ^(

Info Cubic Japan ^(

  • Videos e imágenes

Los internautas japoneses miran más videos en línea que ninguna otra población en línea. La probabilidad de que seleccionen un video en los resultados de búsqueda que un artículo escrito es también mucho mayor. Por lo tanto, es importante no olvidarnos de optimizar  las imágenes y los videos que utilizamos para que puedan ser encontrados con facilidad.

Relaciones públicas

Una profesión altamente desarrollada en Japón, las relaciones públicas se ejecutan de manera muy diferente que en la mayoría de los países occidentales. Aunque los japoneses conocen las costumbres foráneas, y de hecho, en tu presencia, seguro que incluso te saludan con una apretón de mano en lugar de su tradicional reberencia, siempre debes recordar que Japón pertenece al grupo de los países que el antropólogo Edward T Hall bautizó como “high context cultures ^(“(culturas de alto contexto): incluso el menor gesto puede conllevar un significado único y seguramente desconocido. La redacción escrita también contiene muchos matices culturales a los que debes prestar atención al preparar comunicados de prensa y contenido de promoción en este país.

De nuevo, te recomiendo que contrates los servicios de un profesional japonés que pueda escribir o traducir tus comunicados de prensa y el contenido dedicado a este país, alguien que conozca el tono de voz que se debe utilizar en tal ocasión y que conozca los matices culturales y lingüísticos apropiados.

La distribución de un comunicado de prensa en Japón es sencilla, y puedes utilizar cualquiera de los proveedores en el país, como Marketwire ^( (que incluye traducciones gratis) o Japan Corporate News ^(  ^( ^(

Si te animas y quieres conocer más información para ayudarte a crear una página web que atraiga al mercado japonés, visita La estética de una página web japonesa.