I caught myself wondering why I should want to join this forum. I am a freelance translator, editor, and technical writer. And although I do most of my work in the ICT sector, I work primarily with natural languages, not with programming languages or DSLs. Two of my favorite subjects in university were computational and corpus linguistics, which explains something. But that is not the main reason for joining.
My work in translating software and writing technical documentation has to do with bridging the gap between two worlds, the world of technology, software designers and developers and (professional) end users. What caught my interest is Strumenta's attempt to bridge this other gap, the one between other disciplines and computer science by designing and developing DSLs, and providing the necessary tooling to empower professionals. Which, I cannot but agree, can be an important development in professional computing.
Expert systems, a 70's buzzword, had the negative connotation of tapping knowledge, leading to a dystopia where computers would replace even the most highly skilled workers. In retrospect, this misconception is understandable, since most people had no knowledge of computers. let alone owned one. Fast forward and we have macs, PCs, GUIs, the internet, and mobile phones, leading to a democratization of computing and a huge, highly skilled, flesh-and-bone ICT workforce.
So, what is next? Will the future be expressed in more pixels, zettabytes, and bandwidth? Quantity and quantum instead of quality? As always, it is very hard to predict the next technological wave. But maybe the next step forward should also involve stepping back. Not as in "the good old days", but as in looking at a painting from a distance instead of with our noses pressed to the canvas or engulfed in social media.
How do we define accessibility? Is it just the ability to access almost unlimited amounts of data and information (Google) or do we find new ways to structure and represent it? And, more important: what fundamental, ready knowledge do we need to be able to use, and interpret the knowledge available to us effectively, and wisely? Which raises interesting questions about education and curricula.
These are big questions. However, designing tools and doing research often starts with small steps. In the future I intend to write posts on indexing, taxonomies, ontologies, and knowledge systems (dot on the horizon). In the process, I plan to write on my experience (struggle?) with natural language parsing. I am aware a lot of work has already been done. What I hope to bring to the subject is my experience as a practitioner in a sub-field of semantics (translation) and, hopefully, a new perspective or context. But that will be for you to judge.
Many thanks for reading my intro!
I am looking forward to reading your contributions.