Experts Discuss Prospects for Kaznet Development

ASTANA – On Jan. 22, 2013, an event held in KazMediaCenter brought together Kazakhstan’s Internet experts and activists to discuss the state and future of, Kaznet, and especially the future of its Kazakh-language segment. Organized by the National Democratic Party Nur Otan, information portal Abai.kz, information portal Alash-orda.kz and the journalist support center Minber.kz, the event served as a focal point for discussing issues relevant to Kaznet. The conference, divided into four panels, had a format similar to a media forum.

In light of the recently announced presidential strategy Kazakhstan 2050, the issue of the Kazakh language and Internet content in Kazakh has become more acute. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has stated that “we have worked to restore our historic Kazakh culture and language after many years of decline” and that the “Kazakh language is our spiritual pivot.”

Nur Otan secretary Yerlan Karin said the conference was held on the eve of a significant date, February 2, which this year marks 100 years since the first Kazakh newspaper was published.

“This is some kind of symbolism,” said Karin. “Recently, we held the first meeting of Kazakh bloggers. Today is the first conference of editors of Kazakh sites. This is an indication that we are developing.”

Arman Kyrykbayev, Kazakhstan’s vice-minister of culture and information, who was also a panelist at the conference, said: “In the next year, 450 new Internet resources are planned to open. Today, there are close to 200 publishers in total and most of them use the Kazakh language. This year, one billion tenge have been allocated to develop the information sphere, 110 million of which will go into Internet resources.”

Among the attendants of the event were forum coordinators, prominent bloggers and editors of sites and portals that create content in the Kazakh language. They discussed the pace of Kaznet’s activity, as well as content, design and technical support issues. One of the main issues on the agenda was the slated transition to the Latin alphabet. Editors of Kazakh sites in the U.S. and China also followed the discussion.

Karin reminded conference participants that “Kazakhs use different alphabets in China, Mongolia and Turkey. For many official resources, even in Kazakhstan, we have to use both the Cyrillic alphabet, and for outreach purposes, introduce additional pages in “tote zhazu” (tote zhazu is based on Arabic script, created by the prominent Kazakh writer Akhmet Baitursynov).” “The transition to the Latin alphabet will further contribute to the development of Internet projects, and generally the Kazakh Internet, which will greatly expand the audience,” he continued. In Strategy Kazakhstan 2050, the president set a concrete task of switching to the Latin alphabet by 2025.

On the agenda of the first conference of Kazakh sites editors were problems of content and quality management. According to experts, despite the fact that the Kazakh Internet came relatively late into the digital age, it has a good chance to catch up quickly.

In recent years, the number of Kazakh sites and users has increased significantly. At the same time, experts say, domestic sites are popular with Internet pirates. The Association of Website Editors in Kazakh will be created in the near future to solve problems together. For now, the experience of Kaznet activists can be useful in transitioning to the Latin alphabet. The use of new terms in the field of information technology and the transition to a new alphabet received special attention from the participants.

“In recent years, we can clearly and confidently say that the potential has been growing and it’s expanding. It should also be noted that the number of users of Kazakh sites is growing. This is also a good indicator of a trend. It is interesting that people get both news and non-news templates,” blogger and translator Nurgisa Asylbekov said of the future of Kaznet.