- Pioneering initiatives will be set up to examine the situation of Basque on the Internet across 85 municipalities and to exert an influence on the websites and domains of these towns and villages
- The aim is to impact upon the supply of and demand for content in Basque.
At a presentation held in Donostia-San Sebastian, a collaboration agreement developed in recent months between the PuntuEUS Foundation and UEMA, the Association of Basque-speaking Town Councils, was launched. The agreement was signed by Josu Labaka, chairman of UEMA, and Josu Waliño, the CEO of the PuntuEUS Foundation.
The PuntuEUS Foundation will be providing UEMA with a study of the Internet situation of the towns and villages that are UEMA members. The study will be made using a computing tool specially developed for this purpose by the PuntuEUS Observatory. This agreement means that pioneering initiatives will be set up to examine the situation of Basque on the Internet across 85 municipalities and to impact on the websites and domains of these towns. The agreement covers an area of approximately 245,000 inhabitants with 8,000 websites, and the two bodies that have signed the agreement will be presenting resources and commitments to bring pressure to bear on the hundreds of institutions, associations, enterprises and private individuals in this area.
Specific plan of action
UEMA will be forwarding to every town council that belongs to UEMA the study corresponding to its municipality. To undertake this work, the Basque-language officers of each municipality will be able to access the tool specifically developed for this work so that they can undertake initiatives to promote Basque across the Internet in line with this. The following initiatives, among others, are being proposed:
- To promote the use of the .EUS domain among the town and village associations, companies and, in general, among the agents that have a website located in the municipalities that belong to UEMA. On these websites, the posting of content in Basque will be encouraged.
- To promote the initiatives specified in the campaign of the “Interneten ere Lehen Hitza euskaraz” [Let the first word be in Basque on the Internet, too] (www.lehenhitza.eus) among citizens in order to encourage Basque use in the digital environment. Particular emphasis will be placed on the following: the promoting of initiatives to use browsers in Basque, the promoting of initiatives to have mobile phones set up in Basque, and the setting up of a didactic unit to work on this matter in schools.
- To take steps to put the browsers used in the town and village schools and in town council-run facilities into Basque to strengthen the presence of Basque in the digital environment.
This agreement aims to impact on the supply of and demand for content in Basque.
As regards supply, according to the PuntuEUS Observatory, approximately 26,000 websites had some Basque content in 2017. That is 16% of the websites in the Basque Country. If the universe of this study is restricted to the UEMA municipalities, it emerges that 30% of the websites have some content in Basque; the percentage therefore rises considerably.
That has a consequence: by bringing pressure to bear on the local level, the situation of Basque can be improved. As Josu Waliño pointed out, “through this agreement we want to bring pressure to bear on the UEMA municipalities in order to improve the presence that Basque has on the Internet in these towns and villages even further. We believe that on a municipal level, in collaboration with the Basque-language officers, we can work on more effective strategies to exert an impact on a website-by-website basis”.
To be able to do this, a tool has been made available to the Basque-language officers in the UEMA town councils to enable them to move from general data to specific data on a town-by-town basis.
Through this tool, it will be possible to gain a precise idea of the situation of Basque on the Internet in each town or village:
- The presence that Basque has on the Internet in each municipality
- Domain distribution within the municipality
- The amount of content posted in Basque by the websites registered in the municipality.
But besides impacting on the supply, it is crucial to impact on the demand. In other words, to encourage users to opt in favour of Basque when using the Internet.
For this purpose, the basis is the Interneten ere Lehen Hitza euskaraz campaign launched by the PuntuEUS Foundation last year. The data relating to this campaign show that now more than about 2-3% of users browse in Basque. What is more, the number of users who browse in Basque is falling; this is mainly due to the fact that more and more Internet browsing takes place via mobile phones and people are not in the habit of having their mobile phones set up in Basque, even if the option to do this is available.
The Interneten ere Lehen Hitza euskaraz project offers a range of tools:
- An app to set up mobile phones in Basque
- Plugins to set up browsers in Basque
- A didactic unit for use in schools
They are all available to the Basque-language officers in the municipalities in order to exert an influence on a town-by-town basis, and the aim of this agreement is to activate this use. Anyone wishing to use it can avail themselves of it over the www.lehenhitza.eus website.