If there ever was a mouthful – this would be it. While listening to how the Cameron-Clegg partnership is turning out at No 10, I read that our government has committed to spending RM200 million to ‘Malaysianise’ various software used in the ICT industry. A couple of thoughts popped into my head.
One, how is the money going to be disbursed and which companies will get the contracts to do software localisation. I wonder if this would be a good avenue to push through Open Source Software (OSS) because OSS is inherently easier to modify than proprietary software. We can easily turn the entire user-interface into Malay if we want to.
However, if recent experience at work is any indicator, the effort will be more difficult than we can imagine. There is a lot of difficulty in translating software concepts into Malay due to the nature of the language. The words that we need to use are either very long or we need to use compound words when translating. That screws around with the user-interface that has been designed for English words in mind.
Two, what kinds of software would be consider for localisation. I wonder if this will just be limited to Windows and Office or if this will extend to everything. Or does the government actually want to actively encourage the development of local software indudstry by injecting the money into small local shops. The question then becomes one of re-inventing the wheel.
There is no reason to just be a jaguh kampung because nobody is going to use the software outside of our country. So, it would be difficult to justify to me. Unless of course these companies are just going to focus on developing and maintaining the software for local use and localise the software for outside use. Then, these companies are unlikely to succeed because there is little reason to choose to use them.
Anyway, while I think that it is a good idea for our government to take more interest in our local software industry but I feel that their focus is ill targeted. There would probably be better results if they chose to focus on building real software companies instead of creating a niche localisation industry. There is just too little growth potential for that.
Signing off from Hogwarth’s.