Google Reader now translates most any blog in most any language. Here's a story on TechCrunch about it. Critics are remarking that the translation is pretty tight...folks are impressed.
I'm struck by this and what implications it will have for notions and practices of literacy. It's early on in the game, but without necessity what will be the motivation and utility of mastery of non-native languages? Obviously, I am not going to argue that such projects and literacies will become non-essential and a mere boutique fancy. However, with any technological advancement like this, the notion of what makes one "literate" (technically and philosophically) does shift a bit.
One recent parallel might be that of GPS usage and literacy compared to old school expertise in cartography (of course GOOG is a key player here too). An argument could be made that such impressive technological developments and dissemination actually encourage literacy, albeit not literacy as it was conceived pre-technological breakthrough. If this is indeed the case, then the pressing analysis is whether or not such flattening, opening up, and general accessibility to "knowledge" and "literacy" is happening in a way that empowers and enables versus negatively reinscribes...does this techno-utopian emergence mean a new paradigm of possibility?
At least for the moment, it seems much more exciting than sitting through those semesters of German class. Hmm, maybe that's the point. Wait, is that good or bad?