The importance of translation in business and the world
With the advent of social media technologies it has become easier than ever to publish and consume information. Being able to rapidly deploy increasing amounts of information helps organizations and corporations to grow and foster community growth. Even more important, lowering the barriers to communication can alleviate the problem of information poverty wherein many societies don’t have access to basic information to help improve their quality of life.
Despite the advances in content generation and sharing one area is still broken and creates a barrier to the flow of information -- that of translation and localization.
The need for localized information extends from organizational expansion to basic human rights
There is a great need for improved translation technology. Companies can expand globally only as fast as they have the resources to support each new country or language. For many companies large and small, the time and money involved in the localization effort can be a prohibiting factor in choosing to expand.
From a global information perspective, information poverty is still rampant because of the difficulty in making information available in the large number of languages that are spoken across the world. According to the Ethnologue, the most extensive catalogue of the world’s languages (http://www.ethnologue.com), there are over 6,809 languages spoken across the globe. Roughly a quarter of the languages are only spoken by 1,000 people or less and many experts estimate that almost half of the languages will be extinct within the next century. Despite the sharp decrease in the number of languages spoken, there are still thousands of different languages across the world. Making information available in even a portion of these languages with yesterday’s technologies is simply not possible. This leaves large portions of the world’s population without the basic information they need to improve their quality of life. Further, a dearth of information, particularly in the areas of medicine, law, and government, can severely limit basic human rights.
Why the traditional translation model is broken
There are three main problems with the traditional translation model.
First, the time and cost of engaging a professional translator at any significant level are prohibitive to all but the largest corporations. The relatively short supply of professional translators keeps the cost-per-word high at roughly $0.23 per word. Projects are hard to monitor and often take weeks or months to complete. In addition, a project manager is often required on a full-time basis to coordinate efforts and keep the project on task further increasing costs and making the translation process cumbersome.
Second, there is a lack of tools to help people translate content in its native environment on the web. Many translation projects are still using a paradigm of delivering content to be translated in a word processing document. The process of transferring content from the web to a document and then transferring the translated results back to the web again is extremely time consuming, inconvenient, and prone to error.
Third, even utilizing the entire pool of professional translators that currently exists, there is no way for them to keep up on the sheer volume of information available to translate. The supply of content by far outpaces the supply of professional translators. In addition, there is no efficient way to determine which content to translate and into what languages thus risking wasting time translating content that isn’t in demand and won’t be consumed by the target audience.
Crowdsourcing translation is the answer
By using new technologies to crowdsource translations you can overcome the inadequacies of the traditional translation model and make translated content available to even the smallest organizations and self-publishers; you can overcome the barriers to the global dissemination of critical information to help overcome information poverty thus increasing the global collective IQ, increasing human rights, and lowering poverty.
By crowdsourcing translations you draw upon an almost unlimited pool of bi-linguals who are willing to contribute for little to no money. In a corporate environment, existing communities who are eager for global expansion may volunteer their time to translate needed content. Volunteers who are invested in eliminating information poverty can contribute their time and talents to translating vital medical, legal, and governmental information to help those in need. Even on a paid basis, crowdsourcing translations costs a fraction of industry average at more like $0.02 per word versus $0.23.
With cloud-based translation tools, the ability to translate and publish translated content can be embedded into the native web environment where the content exists eliminating the need for copying and pasting content. This also enables volunteers to translate desired content immediately upon identifying the need without being forced through a separate process.
Finally, by leveraging the knowledge of the crowd the massive amounts of information available can be sorted and prioritized thus enabling the most important content to be translated into the languages where it’s most needed. This greatly lowers inefficiencies in translating erroneous content into languages where it’s not needed. In addition, with the large pool of bi-lingual volunteers, there is no longer a limitation of translation resources.
By utilizing the crowd in translation projects, companies and organizations can not only expand globally at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods, but organizations and individuals can also contribute in fighting information poverty which severely limits societies across the globe.