Friday, January 15, 2010

Back to Fundamental Questions

This is an attempt to return to the core questions on the role of associations raised by Renato in his blog. This again is content from the GALA group discussion in Linked In.

Before we got sidetracked by the arbitrary and childishly unnecessary censorship, I think that Renato did raise some questions that many of us in this industry are asking. There is a good reason that his presentation on the Future of the Localization Industry at the Thailand conference has been viewed by almost 800 people (who sit through a 35 minute talk according to the web logs) in less than a month, significantly more than the other speakers who were also excellent. His audience so far already exceeds the number of people attending both the GALA and Localization World conferences added together!  Here are the videos from #LTBKK conference. 

Clearly people want to hear what he is saying as he is asking questions that many of us are ALSO asking. I list a few that Renato raised as well as some that I have below: 

  • Why are there so many localization industry events? Are they all useful?
  • Would it not be more useful to the community and industry professionals at large to have industry associations work together and produce fewer but higher profile events that get more noticed by the real world? Would fewer more intense and better attended events not be preferred by most of us? 
  • What would inter-association collaboration models look like? 
  • How would collaborative conference content be determined? How would revenues be shared? How could 3 / 4 associations come together to make this happen?  
  • What do we as an industry have to do to get noticed by the WSJ, Time, BBC and other high profile media? Are we content to remain within the confines of our industry journals, as wonderful as they are?

  • Localization managers in most Fortune 1000 companies have significantly lower status and influence than Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Product Management and Customer Support managers? Could the associations not help change this low profile if it really became a focus? 
  • How do we as professionals connect profitably to the huge momentum behind the open translation and crowdsourcing trends? How will social networking and open source affect the localization and translation industry?
  • Where is the leadership in this industry? I cannot point to any that are not often divisive and consistently following a clearly articulated vision and public interest (beyond their own group) but perhaps I am too harsh and perhaps I don't really know. (Actually I don't, but I cant "see" them.) It is often said that we get the leaders we deserve.
  • Are there other ways for associations to raise money so that we do not have this continuing event deluge? 

 While I personally found the GALA conference content better than the Localization World content, I am sure there are many who found the opposite true. (One of the sessions I attended at GALA had two people present. WTF? ) And I see is that both of these events attract very few new people. So if the same people are talking to each other all the time, how does this help the attendees professionally? And we all know that having these two events so close together will mean that many people have to choose one or the other. (Prague in May and Berlin in June - Approved?) Who really benefits from this? Does it not hurt both events?

In terms of content, networking and real learning, the best events I attended last year were IMTT (it was wonderful to finally hear translators talking to LSPs and vice versa and hear new voices), LRC (leading edge localization research and clear buyer perspectives and hear new voices) and Localization & Translation Thailand (great technology coverage and really diverse views from several association leaders, translators, buyers and vendors). The Thailand event itself was an example of collaboration between LISA, ProZ, Asian Language/Translation Associations, and Asia Online and it certainly had an impact in terms of high quality content. While clearly much could be improved, it is also a model of how multiple groups can work together, share responsibilities and revenue from an event. If ProZ represents 300,000+ translators why are they not and should they not be speaking at every industry conference to get at least some version of the freelancers perspective?

There is clearly a case for some smaller, focused and specialized events but I for one am having difficulty telling the difference in focus and agenda between many of the bigger and frequent events I have attended. I have also had this conversation with several other people so I think this is a growing sentiment.

Serge has posted answers to my questions above in the GALA group.Unlike him, I don't have ready made answers. I think we have to hold and consider these questions for awhile, and listen to many voices (no censoring allowed)  so that the action that follows is actually progress.

I hope that our focus here and elsewhere moves more to these questions as we all stand to gain.It would be a pity to let our attention be derailed by reckless and irresponsible censorship. We need to keep our attention on the real fundamental questions, don't we?

This blog is supposed to be about MT, right?  Yes, someday soon.

Renato Presentation: The On-going Evolution of the Localization Business

1 comment:

  1. Serge just posted a comment that I inadvertently deleted (yikes). After all that talk about censorship.

    Sorry, I am still learning my way around this blogging platform and clicked on the delete rather than publish button.Oops.

    Anyway here is his comment - luckily I still have the email notification.

    Serge has left a new comment on your post "Back to Fundamental Questions":

    Kirti, please. You know perfectly well that no one is moderating or censors your posts on GALA group, or in any other group, too. You said a lot of things, and nobody did censor you.

    Just to rectify the impression that people may get from your words.

    I do agree that free speech can be carried to an extreme where even free speech enthusiasts would question whether giving somebody voice makes sense. Check the link below out;

    I just read about how the EFF has lost its way. Here is is an example of free speech gone awry - where it has become hateful and violent.

    I am glad that we have all kept our comments respectful even though we have had differences.