An Awesome List for Open Source Software

The world is full of problems. Some of these can be solved through the use of technology. Other problems can’t be solved directly through the use of technology, but the deployment of technologies can impact social environments and social interactions in a way so that the problems not solvable directly though technology can be addressed.

Low-resource languages suffer from one of the problems of the second type. That is there is a sociological problem that follows briefly in the following way:

Feel-good, and do-good linguists often want to help “low-resourced” language community have digital tools in their language. This scenario is mirrored by the a different scenario, which may be contrasted with people “helping” from the outside. That is,people from within the low-resource language want to create tools for using their language - often in written form - in digital contexts. The result is that there are often a set of persons who are project managers, or who hold the business strings (access to grant funding, and are responsible for contracting with technologists to implement the project ideas and goals). The problem that occurs is that the more project managers there are (which might be more than one per language - with over 7,000 languages) the more divergent the technological solutions which are expensive and often not compatible or extensible - even if they are “open sourced”.

Problem we are trying to solve is the communication problem between the plethora of coders which vary from cowboy soloists to dedicated shops working on language software targeted for use in Low-resourced communities, and the growing number of visionary project managers, who might have a background in linguistics, but often not have one in information technology or in information technology project management.

The benefits of collaboration, and reusability of code are obvious. However, there still stand a large gap between the project manager and the coding technologist. We find that this gap can be characterized by two critical problems:

What are the things which have been coded - and for what purpose are they coded? Assuming that this data can be gathered, how can this data be quirky made usable so that project managers can use the information intelligently in their evolving relationships with their technical teams? In summary we must create a pile of data, and then we need to make it usable. In the spirit of taking baby steps, we have started to amass a pile of data (asking the question - what do we know has been coded), we have started with a solution which is more native to coders than to project managers. We have used an element of Github culture - ‘the Awesome list’.

While this does list does make a browse able list, it does not address the myriad of points of view which project managers come from. Synthesizing the data to match the various points of view; making the data relevant and usable is still an open task.

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Hugh Paterson III
Hugh Paterson III
Collaborative Scholar

My research interests include typological patterns in articulatory phonetics; User Experience design in language tools; and graph theory applied to language and linguistic resource discovery.