Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Atwood was talking about how English is a lingua franca of sorts in the programming world, and now there's this rebuttal making rounds.

I remember seeing a fairly similar discussion in Orkut once. Orkut is a social networking site that is popular mostly in Brazil, and the discussion was about whether people should make an effort to speak in English anyways, since it's been (arguably) the lingua franca of the Internet.

It sorta boiled down to this: lazy people would stay in their comfort zone. Smart people could recognize the value of using english.

I'm not saying all Brazilians are lazy, just that there are a significant number of Brazilians who are not that comfortable with English and are not as willing to make an effort to learn it.

What's a bit funny is that, with Jeff's example, things are a bit reversed from mine: in Orkut, you're more likely to get unexpectedly different perspectives when talking in English with an Indian or Japanese or Russian person, than talking to someone from the same city you were born in. The programming example speaks in a scale that is an order of magnitude larger: In the real world, you are more likely to see unexpectedly different perspectives when you get out of the English speaking bubble that is the Internet.

And with all these talks of recessions and the need for entrepreneurship, and (if you follow Seth Godin anyways) the idea that focusing on tribes is the road to success, maybe we should be considering the possibility that we've spent way too much time shielding ourselves from the scary, weird world, and that we've been losing out on a lot of opportunities.

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