For an internet user in Western Nepal who speaks kusunda, or a santali speaker who has just browsed through a few Wikipedia articles, how does the internet look like? For speakers of numerous indigenous languages, being able to get online from their cellphones isn’t enough. Sometimes, their writing system might not be compatible with a standard deemed “universal”; sometimes, they simply won’t find relevant content to read through and interact with.
Subhashish Panigrahi, a documentary filmmaker and program manager, has built open resources for indigenous and endangered languages. He has worked with and alongside different communities, some of which have virtually no online presence, while others strive to maintain and expand their own Wikipedias. He is focused on developing technical and educational resources so that people can learn to create media content that is relevant to themselves and those around them.
Listen to this conversation about Subhashish’s experience with languages in South Asia, how they are thriving and what is missing from their presence on the internet.