Perhaps it’s because I recently read Accelerando and that has instilled me with an appreciation of technology’s future, but I’ve been increasingly interested in the distribution and use of information. As a general principle I approve of free information, not even the distribution of copy written material which is a much more complex and sinister subject (where both the pirates and the “enforcers” are extremely sinister) but free information like news. One of the most important movers in the free information world is Wikipedia. While it’s obviously not perfect, it is extremely helpful and pretty accurate on science topics. I could make a list of textbooks and teachers I’ve had that were far less accurate and helpful. Wikipedia offers a valuable free source of information, and guidance as to where to find more.
There is no Wikipedia in Mongolian. None. They are currently debating whether to make it in the traditional script or the Cyrillic. There are decent arguments for both, though Cyrillic is the most likely final choice.
This debate brings out a very important debate about Mongolian identity. Are the Mongols in China and Russia as Mongolian as those in Mongolia? There are more outside the country and those in China have a much stronger knowledge of the traditional script. However, they lack the national identity that the Cyrillic using Mongolian Mongols have. Cyrillic is more easily learned, easier to deal with electronically, and seems more culturally durable.
What bothers me most is that this debate is halting the cycle of information and many people would find beneficial.
Another example of free information being used in interesting ways from Libya’s Rebel Forces: U.A.E. Commits Planes to Enforcing Libya No-Fly Zone – NYTimes.com. “The only foreign expert we use is Google Earth,” Colonel Bani said. As much as I like the image of rebel groups coordinating attacks with Google Earth, we really should provide some tactical support. That cannot possibly be more expensive than bombing people.