RE: Can authoring using graphics = no localisation.

Subject: RE: Can authoring using graphics = no localisation.
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 11:14:59 -0500

You have your work cut out for you. :-)

It sounds like an interesting project, with some
potential. As usual, you will immediately hear from
the nay-sayers, with all kinds of reasons why it
can't work. So, how about I phrase mine as
"challenges to consider and bypass/overcome".

Here are some thoughts. The early Egyptians developed
heiroglyphics. Note what their descendants use today...
There's probably a reason for that. Maybe if they
had also developed a phonetic written language for
conveying complex abstract ideas and arguments, the
two might have prospered side-by-side, each in it's
own niche. Instead, they tried (because it's all they
had at the time... and then later, because they had a
big cultural and economic investment in the form) to
make heiroglyphics fill all the requirements of written

So, I think a significant part of your effort will
be spent defining scope.

Another thought: despite the increasing ubiquity of
color printing, your graphic "language" will need to
forgo the power of color, since the symbolic imputations
are so very mixed across cultures. Just look at how
some cultures view black and white, with respect to
marriage and death -- cross a border or a mountain range,
and they have the opposite meanings/uses.

When you speak of developing sets of cross-cultural
standardized "fonts" and "syntax", another warning
flag goes up. Your syntax will have to do without
positional cues. If you doubt that, then please
write out a nice sentence in English, at the top of
a blank sheet of paper.

Now, translate it to Arabic and Hebrew.

See my point? Do we read your collections of
symbols from left-to-right, or from right-to-left.

But wait... translate again, to Chinese.

If a block of your symbols is encountered, does it
convey different meanings, concepts, directions
if the reader starts at either of the top corners
and reads across to the other... OR reads down the
page, before starting at the top of the next "column"
of symbols? You'd want to decide that, up front.

Probably you should go with the columnar approach.
After all, the biggest single block of population
on the planet is already culturally conditioned to
read that way, first... and two large sub-blocks of
the "horizontal" school of reading, can't agree on
the proper horizontal direction.

Or, fool everybody and use a spiral... (but are you an
'inny' or an 'outy'? :-)

Anyway, while Chinese (and Japanese and ...) written
language is a more obvious example, all of our alphabets
started from symbols, more or less arbitrary. Something
you might want to study is the process that took the
written symbols of all modern languages from being
directly, pictorially representative, to the abstract
once-or-twice-removed form they take today.

You would want to design both the symbol sets and
the rules to prevent that happening to your picto

Yet more places to look for some inspiration and for
some points to ponder, would be choreographic notation
and the various gestural languages of the world.
I don't mean signed-alphabet, so much as the vastly
richer sign-gesture systems. But wait. Those aren't
very international either. Ameslan is different from
the sign language of Quebec, and both of those are
different from the sign language of Australia.

Hmmm. You DO have your work cut out for you. I'll be
interested to see how it progresses. Keep us posted.

Meanwhile, getting away from symbols linked by syntax
rules, I think that many physical-hardware companies
have shown that the user documentation can be almost
entirely pictorial and be quite successful. I'm thinking
of, say, "some-assembly-required" furniture (IKEA?) or
the last BBQ grill I assembled. Only the titles and
part numbers used alpha-numerics. The rest was drawings.

On the other hand, I'm at a loss as to how I'd explain
cryptographic concepts and our hardware and software
products with only pictures... or with only an associationally-
constrained symbol-set.

Good luck.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Emson [mailto:mt -dot- emson -at- ntlworld -dot- com]
> Instructions represented by a single character can be read,
> possibly, by
> most nationalities throughout the world.
> For example, the character of:
> A pair of scissors on a dotted line = cut along this line.
> A telephone = this is a telephone number.
> If simple instruction can be understood in this way, why
> can't we link these
> characters together? Well obviously we already do, especially
> on information
> signs.
> A telephone and an arrow = the telephone is in this direction.
> I'm sure you know what I mean and how an extended library of
> characters
> could be used to construct texts that could be understood by all
> nationalities, regardless of spoken language.
> There could be a font set for the automotive industry, another for the
> airlines, another still for consumer goods. These areas
> already use symbols
> extensively in their publications and on equipment but, as far as I am
> aware, these symbols are 'drawn' graphics rather than font characters.
> Would there be an advantage to using a word processor and
> simply typing
> these characters? I feel that there would.

> Project Plan:
> Put a web site on line to explain the idea more clearly.
> Develop one full font set of characters.
> Develop grammatical rules for using the characters.
> Publish a demonstration document containing no "spoken" language.
> Publish a commercial document using the characters.
> Develop further character sets.

Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
**WEST COAST LOCATIONS** San Jose (Mar 1-2), San Francisco (Apr 16-17) or 800-646-9989.

Sponsored by ForeFront, Inc., maker of ForeHelp Help authoring tools
for print, WinHelp, HTML Help, JavaHelp, and cross-platform InterHelp
See for more information and free evaluation downloads

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: (Askance of topic): Purty pik-tyoors
Next by Author: RE: Software For Students
Previous by Thread: RE: Can authoring using graphics = no localisation.
Next by Thread: Technical writing ad absurdum

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads