I'm not a developer, I 'just use Windows', and I don't like i18n all that much. Not so much because I distrust the local version, but when I spend time online for example, my mind is set to English. I'm Dutch by the way. If I bump into something Dutch
when I don't expect it it actually confuses me for a moment.
Here's one great example I Just stumbled in an hour ago. I was reading
Scobleizer's blog and he mentioned MSN Messenger 6.2 shipped today. When I clicked the link [to the MSN Messenger page] the whole site was in Ducth. My first reaction was: "what's this? Oh, it's Dutch." To me it was
even a bit frustrating not finding a way to change the language to my preferred website reading language English so I could set my mind back to English.
Audio and video will not replace text, IMO. You can consume audio and video only at the pace that it was originally created (OK, you can speed it up or slow it down a little bit but not by much, without it sounding like either Mickey Mouse or Lurch...)
There are powerful things about reading; a well-set text is a "level playing field" over which each reader can "run" at his or her own pace, which is dictated by their level of reading skill, by their level of interest in the content, the complexity of the
content, and so on; there's also a very deep interaction going on between the human visual perception system and brain when we read. Visual patten recognition has been the primary survival skill of primates for many millions of years, and writing systems take
advantage of that.
What is a writing system? A set of agreed patterns. If you and I both agree on what those patterns represent, then I can make dirty marks on shredded trees - or re-arrange the pixels on a screen - and when you look at those marks, you get my meaning, even if
I'm thousands of miles away, or I died five hundred years ago, like Shakespeare.
It's the closest thing to telepathy the human race has ever invented. And we should never take it for granted.
The big question that pops up in my head is: "what exactly is reading?"
Reading text is a skill. When you master the skill you can recognize a message described by agreed upon characters in a specific arrangement. You can discover what the writer meant to mean. I also have this believe the layout is the written "body language."
When you use font, bold, italic, undelines, color and possibly images correctly you can write very agressive, tranquil, casual or formal text. For example: "I'm angry" reads very different than "I'm angry."
Reading audio/video is also a skill. Especially when someone is talking. You read what the "picture" tells you. It's easy not recognize reading audio/video as a skill because people do it a lot more intuitive than reading text. Do also note that when you are
having face-to-face contact you are also reading audio/video.
And Bill, I'm sorry to disagree on your "telepathy" thought. My theory on this is my "load of information vs. ease of recording" tought.
It's easy to record text, but it is hard to tell every detail with it.
It is easy to tell every detail with audio/video, but is hard to record.
Now that the technology provides us a relative easy ways to record and play audio/video we going back to our nature more and more: there's more information, people "read" it more intuitive and in most cases it's more fun. The fact that Channel 9 has so many
movies should say enough.
In 500 years people might even see Bill Hill telling about operating systems and Human 1.0
I'm not an expert in psychology, nor in cognition science, nor in anything else. This is just a random thought I had.