Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Coming soon a Gaelic 'Facebook' style social network for a mere £250,000

The Gurn asks, 'Has Bòrd na Gàidhlig' lost the plot?

The Gurnmeister, as many of you will know, is committed to the Gaelic cause and even runs a Gaelic blog among other things. Now he too, sadly, finds himself criticising a Gaelic project. The sun website informs us:

"SCOTLAND’S 60,000 Gaelic speakers are to get their own version of Facebook. Rosemary Ward and Gillian Thompson are launching their social networking site later this month. "
“We’ll have links to various places where people can take courses to learn Gaelic. There will also be news links. It’s going to be accessible all over the world and it means ex-pats can find out what’s going on in the Gaelic-speaking world.”
"The girls hope the website will become as popular as Bebo and Facebook in Scotland. Each new user will have to set up a profile, where they can add friends and chat. Rosemary, who is acting CEO for Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Government body responsible for Gaelic speakers, said:
“You set up your own social networking profile, have a group of friends, send messages and add comments.”
The site has been under construction for almost two years, and is finally nearing completion. It cost £250,000 to set up and was funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. "Gilllian, director of IT firm Creative Cell, said: “We first got the idea for the site in February 2007 and have been working on it ever since" Full story on the sun here: Double click Gaelic.
All well and good, but the trouble is that as far as the Gurnmeister is concerned there exists a perfectly good 'facebook' type facilty in the form of Abair Thusa - Lìon Sòisealta nan Gàidheal - The Gaelic Social Net. The Gurnmeister is a member of this site and he can vouch for the fact you can do almost anything you can do on facebook on Abair Thusa. Abair Thusa was set up by a young Highlander who as far as the Gurn knows has never made a penny, or ever intended to make a penny, out of this site. Wouldn't it have been better to give the likes of this site or say Foram na Gàidhlig, a little financial help? Foram na Gàidhlig is a site set up and translated for free by another young learner of Gaelic, here is a site open 24/7 for learners, native speakers full of information.
Perhaps Bord na Gàidhlig didn't even know of the existence of these sites or perhaps they aren't snazzy enough. Oh and another thing, sometimes people use their Gàidhlig on the real facebook anyway, despite the layout being English.
Have Bòrd na Gàidhlig lost the plot? A few other folk in Gaelic circles seem to think so but up until now the Gurnmeister has been willing to give the Board the benefit of the doubt but sadly he feels he has to join the ranks of those critics that think that perhaps Bòrd na Gàidhlig could be on their way to doing more harm than good.
Story picking up tiny digital legs now,
'Expensive cul-de-sac for Bòrd na Gàidhlig with Gaelic facebook'
'It has been announced that Bord na Gaidhlig is spending £250,000 on setting up a Gaelic version of the social networking site, Facebook - The site is to be online by the end of this month and is said to have been two years in development by Glasgow-based Gillian Thompson. The site will have an instant translation to English for non-Gaelic speakers.
Naturally the initiative has attracted a fair amount of controversy. Some critics focus on the cost - which is frankly, extremely high. (The site had better be good.) Some point to existing market leaders in the social networking genre - Facebook itself and Myspace - both of whom already have Gaelic users.' The rest of this new article
on the For Argyll site.


Anonymous said...

Gaelic isn't my thing, I'm afraid. But if one makes an assumption about the proportion of the 60,000 Gaelic speakers who will actually use such a site (ie allowing for those who may be too old, too young, too busy or too unenthusiastic about IT), and divide this into the quoted cost of a quarter of a million, that's a pretty mighty per-capita user subsidy.

More to the point, there's a reference to one of the two creators of this new website as
"Rosemary, who is acting CEO for Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Government body responsible for Gaelic speakers....". So in charge of the handing out of the money, and also the recipient of it? The words 'conflict of interest' spring to mind.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm really looking forward to seeing this web site, I think it is going to be awesome as Page and Brin who started Google did so with a lot less funds and look where Google is now!

Anonymous said...

The £250K was for the whole project, not just the website. There's supposedly a load of marketing, advertising and the like going to be going on around the Gaelic language. The site is just a part of this overall "Learn Gaelic" thing that they're doing.

Graisg said...

Well we'll see soon just what is on the table for £250,000. So far the PR side of this could have been better.
There already is an all Gaelic social network site 'Abair Thusa'
The Welsh translated the Facebook interface via a group of on-line volunteers for free and and the Irish are in the process of doing the same. There is a massive on-line group on facebook campaigning for permission from facebook's owners to start translating the interface into Scots and Gaelic formats.
Maybe Bòrd na Gàidhlig should have spent a bit of time consulting the on-line Gaelic community, plenty of people want to help for free with all things Gaelic - make use of them Bòrd na Gàidhlig!