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by Gautam Akiwate

Mozilla in Your Language

Technology empowers people. Technology frees people. Technology inspires people. Technology broadens horizons. Or maybe not? Today most of the people that stand to gain from technology are non-native English speakers. The question stands if the barrier of language hinders the use of technology can technology still make the same claims? Today as technology tries to proliferate and tries to ease everyday life it is imperative that the technology that promises this panacea be brought to them in a language that they are most comfortable and using which they can extract the most from it.

Is it necessary that people who would like to use computers first learn English? Is ignorance of English enough reason to deny a person access to technology? This problem especially comes to the fore in developing countries where majority of the education is in regional languages. This combined with low literacy rates blocks their access to information and communications technologies (ICTs), especially for the rural poor and women who do not have equal access to education. A need is hence felt for answers to these troubling questions. The answer to this problem lies in localization and internationalization commonly referred to as l10n and i18n.

Let us first try to understand what Localization means. Essentially localization is the process of taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale where it is used. On the other hand internationalization is the process of producing products that can be easily adapted to different locales, basically make localization easier. That is have "One code base for the world". Today Internet has taken the role of an enabler bringing technology to the doorsteps of people. In view of this it becomes imperative that the gateways of Internet are localized so that maximum number of people can leverage the internet.

So where does Mozilla fit in? Mozilla is a global non-profit that dedicates itself to putting individuals in control while also help shape the future of the web for the public good. Today the Mozilla Project has an impressive range of software including one of the world's most popular browsers, Mozilla Firefox. Not only this, the Mozilla Project is one of the best examples in the FOSS World of both "Internationalization and Localization". Today Mozilla Project offers most of its products in over 70 languages thanks to the tireless efforts of the community of developers who developed the software to support internationalization and the localization community which helped modify and adapt the product for different locales. The aim of the project is to serve the greater community which encompasses the users belonging to an impressively extensive array of language groups. The Project also lists one of its goals as the localization of mozilla.org products into any world language.

So, now that you an aware individual would you too like to contribute and have an impact on the approximately 450 million people who use Mozilla everyday? You can contribute too in various ways! For starters you could introduce people to Mozilla software in their own language and empower them to make a difference! Or you can also join the localization efforts at Mozilla and be part of the community! Pitch in and get counted!