How many tired presentations have you endured describing how to make a business case for a translation or localisation project – too many to count? Can you imagine working on projects that do not require a business case? On projects that pump you up with energy, motivation and satisfaction? Together with colleagues and friends, I recently discussed such projects at the ASLIB – Translating and the Computer 32 event in London last week.
Sharon O’Brien and I presented Next Generation Translation and Localisation: Users are Taking Charge. Users are no longer prepared to wait for some large multinational to decide for them which content or application they should get access to. They decide for themselves. Sharon reported on the results of our recent survey involving The Rosetta Foundation volunteers. Among the important lessons for The Rosetta Foundation, and similar organisations, coming out of this survey are the need for a continued promotion of their cause; frequent communication with volunteers; passing on feedback from clients and professional practitioners to the volunteers; and providing references for volunteers. One really surprising result of the survey, at least for those of us with a commercial background, was that the majority of volunteers felt that payment for their services would de-motivate them, as would competition (for example, through a “translator of the month” showcase) and “not being allocated work”! Not only do the volunteers not need a business case to motivate them, having one would probably be a good reason for them not to volunteer!
Chris Pyne and I had jointly organized a panel session which was moderated by Chris. We were joined by Pat Hall and Martha Ebermann on the panel who reported on the language scene in two linguistically very diverse small mountain states, Nepal and Switzerland – with surprising parallels between them in the area of multilingualism! Chris presented the result of a survey we had conducted leading up to the conference that attracted the “help” of over 300 friends and colleagues who had expressed their view on translation and localisation beyond the G20. Almost three quarters of those who responded believed that (1) rather than being a “public good”, transnational corporations view electronic information as a commodity, and that a handful of companies dominate personal computing trying to control internet content and commerce; and (2) that the internet is being broken up by corporations and governments into virtual states which regulate and control in the same way as states do in the real world. Many respondents had used the “open” section of the survey to express their view that collectively we need to continue providing significant support for localisation and translation projects for non-G20 countries.
Tens of thousands of active volunteers around the world are translating for good, for humanity, for progress making Access to Knowledge in Every Language a reality. None of them needs a business case. What they need is your support and recognition. – Why not make that one of your good intentions for 2011?