Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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DANIEL Yacob, Ge'ez Frontier Foundation

Founded in 1994, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is responsible for the standards that make the World Wide Web possible. Standards from the W3C specify how the text in digital documents must be presented to the reader under the expectations of their cultural conventions. In 2015 the W3C launched a task force to address the layout, formatting and other presentation requirements of Ethiopic literature ( This effort to develop a recommendation that software companies can apply for Ethiopian and Eritrean publishing faces a significant challenge stemming from the absence of a similar specification for printed literature. While some recommendations may be found, none are comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of layout and formatting needed and will not include the minutiae that may seem intuitive to a human author but must be expressed in a formalization that a logic processing system can apply. Thus the task force finds itself in the unexpected position of producing the first comprehensive specification for Ethiopic publishing. As society’s adoption and reliance on desktop publishing grows and as digital devices and e-Readers proliferate, a good quality specification is ever more essential. Lest Ethiopic publishing be left to presentation rules devised for external literature. The paper will present the current status of the effort, stakeholder involvement, and the standardization process. While reviewing every detail of the draft recommendation is beyond the scope of what the paper attempts to address, examples are drawn from the developing work to illustrate the difficulties in layout specification and the importance of the involvement of all parties with a stake in Ethiopic literature past and present.