Saturday, November 27, 2004

Unicode Lament

In Sansblogue, Tim Bulkeley rightly laments some technical problems I reported on at the SBL,
When, oh when, will we hear the last of scholars who - through stubborn determination NOT to learn the first few things about the "new" technology (computers replacing the "older" technology of ink on paper) - ensure that their work is only accessible if others assist them!?

People, there is this "new" thing called Unicode, it means that we are no longer font dependent in the same way. If you type Greek in ANY Unicode compliant font, and if I have ANY Unicode Greek compliant font available, I should see your Greek (or Hebrew or ...). Even if you use Rabbit fonts, but I use MasterFonts+, this is a gain worth learning a small new bag of tricks to perform.
I could not agree more. And believe me, these were the very thoughts going through my head as I presided at the session in question, not least when the speaker turned to me somewhat plaintively appealing that the Greek was "not working". But we are still such a long way from scholars getting on top of unicode, something that is surprisingly simple. I'm afraid that our publishers are behind the times too and many major publishers are still working with non-unicode fonts and are planning to continue to work with them for the foreseeable future. Until they take a lead, the problems will remain. And sadly, too, many post-graduate students are not picking up unicode because their supervisors are not taking a lead. In the mean time, the rest of us are just going to have to bang on about this until everyone starts listening, and training up our own students so that the next generation is ahead of this one.

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