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Things the New Web Might Untangle

"The next Web" is a most fascinating report. However, from a European user's perspective, you forgot to mention the most important user issue there is: cultural and language diversity. The way the report reads, there is only one language--i.e., English. Of the 400 million citizens of the European Union, only one in seven has English as a mother tongue. Six out of seven citizens use another language for daily communication. They face mutilation of their first and last names going on the Internet. Getting rid of Internet name mutilation is the single most important user issue there is.

The Internet has to support the lingual and cultural diversity of Europe. The Internet is a global phenomenon, and it has to act responsibly. The Internet is for the people, not the people for the Internet.

Jon Thorhallsson

Reykjavik, Iceland

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Confederation of European Computer Associations in Brussels.

The good news about the Semantic Web is that, in addition to the consumer applications mentioned, adding structure and meaning to information will in time bring trillions of dollars of savings to businesses worldwide. Today, the majority of the world's corporations suffer from inherent business inefficiencies due to a lack of "semantics" that can unite hundreds of incompatible data sources into a single coherent enterprise view.

Zvi Schreiber

Jerusalem The increase in Scholastic Assessment Test scores at Harvard can be attributed to a lucrative new profession: prep courses guaranteed to increase a student's SAT score ("Harvard," Education, Feb. 18). Back in the 1950s, we had to take the SAT without any kind of preparation. If today's students took the SAT cold turkey, I bet there wouldn't be much of a difference.

And as for graduate students teaching lower-division classes instead of the professor: Top-notch professors, Nobel Prize winners or not, should be required to teach survey courses at least one day a week. Any parent who shells out $20,000 or more a year for a university education these days has the right to demand that his kid attend an occasional lecture by the Top Gun.

Thomas C. Trauger

Guayaquil, Ecuador An interview with Mr. Messier would have been more appropriate than the direct attack in "Memo to Jean-Marie Messier" (European Business, Mar. 4). The piece reflects only the writer's opinion and does not even indicate whether Vivendi Universal's financial reports are better or worse that those of any other corporation of similar size and reach.

It is a bad time to criticize practices of European companies--when there is so much to be said about the business and accounting practices of the blue-chip corporations that make up most of the Dow Jones industrial average. I have not seen any direct open letter to any of our good execs at Enron Corp.

Christian Renaudin

Davis, Calif. "Small is beautiful" (Asian Business, Feb. 25) noted that Philippine Airlines' international operations are moribund, and concluded: "After all, who wants to fly to a nation with a reputation for lax security?" That statement was not only unsubstantiated: It was totally uncalled for.

Wilson Ng

Cebu, Philippines

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