- There is an explosion in relevant content affecting global enterprises
- Social Media and Social Networks are now increasingly in control of branding impressions
- There is an increasing use of open innovation and community collaboration models in many businesses
- Translation technology and automation are becoming increasingly important for speed and cost reasons
- A rising Asia will change the priority of strategic languages away from the current FIGS dominance
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
We live in an age, where increasingly marketing and corporate-speak is challenged, undermined and sometimes even seen as disingenuous and false. (Raise your hand if you trust and respect corporate press releases). Today we see customer voices rise above the din of corporate messaging, and taking control of branding and corporate reputations with their own “authentic” discussions of actual customer experiences, while marketing departments look on haplessly. I think this phenomenon is happening on many fronts, including conferences in the localization industry. There are too many events in the L10N industry that seem formulaic, routine, repetitive and engineered based on the same old viewpoints. This, I think affects the ability of these events to really spark dialogue, excitement and generate vital learning experiences that make these conferences must-attend events. While these events remain useful for “face-time”, they often have little value for really engaging attendees at a professional level.
What makes for a great conference or professional industry event? To my mind: high quality content, interactive and engaged audiences in sessions that broaden one’s horizons, interesting people who continue the professional dialogue outside of the sessions and share learning experiences and of course a good location. And if you can offer all of this at a reasonable cost, even better. A great professional event is characterized by learning, the more intensive the learning experience, the better. The best ones leave you thinking for awhile after the event. Intense learning rarely happens at really big events because it is hard to scale this. The ELIA Networking Days meeting (rather than conference) had many of the elements of good professional group meetings. The attendees had a lot of say in determining what was presented, the sessions were highly interactive and engaged, attendees all shared without concern for exposing personal weaknesses and it was clear that the broad feedback was genuinely positive and the biggest single complaint seemed to be that people wanted to be in two sessions that were running concurrently. Ultan (pictured below in traditional Irish garb) aka @localization has also written about his own early impressions of the event with more to follow soon in Multilingual magazine.
This event was also very organized in terms of Twitter coverage and attendees saw continuous live coverage through the event where several screens showed the Twitter feedback up to that point. Type “#ELIA” at the wall of silver to see one such live view. Opinions from tweeps outside the conference were shared with the session group if they were deemed pertinent or relevant. This virtual expansion is a key characteristic of the best events like TED and SXSW where one can see audience reactions in real time and the external virtual audience may actually be several times larger than the physical one. This event also has some great candid photo shots taken by @AgaGonczarek like the one below. She also created the mood video that captures much of the feel of the conference.
Some of the sessions that I found most interesting – Sharon O’Brian’s overview of post-editing, @paraics review of the work CNGL is doing, @marylaplante’s perspective of changing enterprise needs and innovation. Ultan also did a great impromptu presentation on the huge value of Information Quality at Oracle (he really does not like descriptions of IQ with the word controlled or simplified in them). I also really enjoyed the Bulls Eye Sales Pitch session which compared and contrasted the actual sales pitch used by several brave and courageous LSPs who voluntarily faced criticism from both the panel and the room on their presentations.(We all need to do more of this to learn faster). Differentiation is a fundamental business challenge for language service providers and this session did a great job of raising awareness and providing real insights into different differentiation strategies. There is a very nice downloadable twitter archive here where you can see mine and others coverage of these sessions, but unfortunately all the hardcore tweeters tended to attend the same sessions, so some sessions did not have very much twitter coverage.
I also spent a day with several people at CNGL at Trinity College Dublin to better understand what they are working on and also had a session with graduate students that was a lot of fun, where I got to tell them my opinion on what broad language technology problems needed to be solved and what research they should do to help us (the world) make more rapid advances. The students were respectful (about my ideas) and at one point informed me that while my suggestions made sense and could even possibly have an impact on important translation problems, they were unlikely to have merit as PhD thesis ideas. Most people don’t realize that CNGL has major SMT research initiatives underway that would rank it amongst the largest MT research programs in the world. They are also doing some very cool and leading edge work on global customer support. In fact, I think one of their research initiatives has produced customer support related technology that could be the basis of a formidable offering in the market, if I had the money I would be very interested in trying to commercialize it. This technology solves a very important problem: Getting the customer to the information they want, by quickly matching queries with carefully filtered and highly relevant response information.
I also got to be on a panel of judges that ranked CNGL PhD student thesis presentations. The winners were focused on improving Patent Search, Developing Better Localization Data Standards and Managing Quality in Crowdsourcing. There were also some cool SMT ideas and ontology development ideas that looked promising. The highlight of the day had to be the very brief visit to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room Library. It is heartening to realize that men sat together a few hundred years ago, and said lets build a library, and lets make it so amazing that men (and women) in future will realize that knowledge, words and books can and should be approached with awe and reverence. This place truly is imbued by the hand and touch of civilized beings. A marvelous and magical place whose scale cannot really be appreciated in pictures, but here’s one anyway (please sir, pardon my use of it without permission).
All conferences have some wonderful conversations and some of these are really heartfelt and should be celebrated. Even though some of these conversations may be the one and only interaction I have with these people in my life, I agree with Carlos Castaneda who recommends (in The Active Side of Infinity), that these conversations should be chronicled as memorable moments in one’s life. I can recall a few of these conversations from this trip: several conversations with Ultan O’Broin (sometimes with Renato there as well), a conversation about differentiation, vision and distinction with the lovely Polish duo of @AgaGonczarek and Marta (who tried repeatedly to get me to say Wroclaw correctly), a conversation with the lovely and talented Sara Nicolini about purpose and passion and finally a dinner conversation with Reinhardt Schaler (and Paraic) about India and Hard Times in Ireland and elsewhere.
This was also a particularly intense event for many and varied professional conversations about how to get started with MT. I look forward to continuing these conversations.
ELIA Networking Days Dublin 2010 from Agnieszka Gonczarek on Vimeo.
And indeed it was actually sunny for those three networking days.
Friday, October 8, 2010
It was good to see (finally!) that many, including Jaap admit that data quality and cleanliness do matter in addition to data volume.
Here is a presentation on Data Is the New Oil. I think the point they make is very useful to TDA: Refine, Refine, Refine to create value. Value is getting the right data to the right people at the right time in the right format. I think it is worth finding out what that actually means in terms of deliverables. Make it easy to slice and dice and package and wrap.
Some of you who know me, know that I am a Frank Zappa fan and Frank (well ahead of his time as usual) said it well in 1979 on the Joe’s Garage album: (I would add “Data is not information” for this blog and recommend you look at more Zappa quotes)
"Information is not knowledge.Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love, Love is not music.
Music is THE BEST"
Finally, one thing about conferences is that there are always a few conversations that stand out. While there were many professional conversations of substance, for me, the ones that stand out the most are conversations that come from the heart. I was fortunate to have four such conversations at this event. One with Elia Yuste of Pangeanic about building trust, another with Alon Lavie of AMTA about where innovation and the real exciting MT opportunities will come from, a third with Smith of Welocalize about building openness with substance, integrity & honor and finally a conversation with Jessica Roland about life, finding purpose and family. I thank them all for bringing out the best in me.
As I prepare for my ELIA keynote, I am compelled to share one more quote that I think is worth pondering:
Friday, October 1, 2010
I recently wrote about and listed some of my favorite TED presentations. I mentioned that my initial list was just the tip of the iceberg and there were many more presentations that are worth a look. As TED grows as a brand, a place where influential voices come forth and share observations and their vision, it is something worth monitoring on an ongoing basis. This is where the most exciting new ideas break out. As TED expands across the globe we are seeing more international perspectives. So, now interesting viewpoints from Asia and Europe are becoming more common in the TED portfolio. Here are a few more selections that I found interesting and that I think also have some relevance to the world of translation.
Clay Shirky is a prominent thinker on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies and he often speaks in favor of crowdsourcing and open collaboration. In fact he wrote a book called Here Comes Everybody. In this talk he describes the basis for his bullishness about something he calls “cognitive surplus”. I think he is one of the most insightful voices on the subject of crowdsourcing and the new collaborative initiatives that are forming around internet access and technology. I recommend this and many other presentations he has scattered across the web.
This Simon Sinek talk is a recommendation from @fabcid who summarized this talk as:” Brilliant and inspiring. A must-see.” on how great leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?"
This is a talk by Tom Wujec who studies how we share and absorb information. He's an innovative practitioner of business visualization -- using design and technology to help groups solve problems and understand ideas. This shows how childlike attitudes are so critical to successful collaboration and how so much of our formal business training actually undermines our ability to collaborate.
I first heard about “soft power” from Joseph Nye. It is something good leaders naturally have, it is the ability to shape the preferences of others. Simply put, in behavioral terms, soft power is attractive power or the power to attract rather than command a following. This is a great talk by Shashi Tharoor on India’s rise as a power. He argues that “soft" power is what makes India formidable in the long run. This is its ability to share its culture with the world through food, music, technology, Bollywood. He argues that in the long run it's not the size of the army that matters as much as a country's ability to influence the world's hearts and minds. One striking example he gives is that today, Indian restaurants in Britain employ more people than the coal mining, ship building and iron and steel industries combined.
One of the passions in my life is music and I am confident that at some point in my life I will be engaged with sound and music in a substantial way so I have also been keeping an eye on the TED stuff related to music and sound. In this talk Robert Gupta talks about his relationship with a schizophrenic that was also the subject of a movie with Jamie Foxx called The Soloist. Music is medicine, music changes us and for some music is sanity.
Finally this is another TED-like group that illustrates speeches in a very useful and interesting way that I think facilitates understanding and engagement. The talk by Daniel Pink is based on his research on motivation. This shows that human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. I think it also shows why standards like EN15038 are flawed – they kill any creativity.