According to the Boston Globe of March 18, the US government is putting Iraqi documents on the Web so the public can have a go at translating them.
bq. It’s the same ”open source” principle that drove the successful development of the Internet and of powerful free software like the Linux operating system. Instead of hiring a team of brilliant professionals to analyze Iraqi documents in secret, the open source systems will use hundreds of clever amateurs, who’ll publish their work for anyone to analyze and improve upon.
It sounds like Harry Potter fan translations but without the copyright problem.
bq. ”Workers control the means of production, but without all that tedious communism,” said Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and author of ”An Army of Davids,” a book that shows how the Internet encourages public activism.
Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Apparently ‘conservative bloggers’ are behind this initiative, as it would bolster the case for war against Iraq.
Here is the Foreign Military Studies Office portal with the goods.
There are a lot of comments on Slashdot. One of them enquires whether the Amish have open source barn raisings. Another says this is equivalent to a voluntary tax upon bilinguals. Or this:
bq. I think they are forgetting that (for some deranged part of our society), creating Linux was fun. Will translating orders for toilet paper for the Iraqi National Guard mess hall be fun too? Only if you can write your translation as a perl poem!