TED is translation-worthy

icon_translator

Earlier this year, TED began recruiting volunteers to translate its recorded presentations, known as TED Talks.

It looks like the venture is off to a strong start. According to TED, more than 1,500 volunteer translators have provided more than 1,000 translations in more than 50 languages. And another 1,000 translations are in the works.

September 18, 2009 Update: TED has reached 2,000 translations.

Now, putting aside my concerns about a company getting services for free that it could very well afford, I want to focus on what TED has done well with its web site to facilitate the crowdsourcing of translations:

  • All translators have their own profile page (see below)
  • Translators get little buttons they can use to promote themselves (see above)
  • The translators who have done the most work are highlighted
  • The most-translated talks are highlight (see below)

ted_translator

One of the most active translators is Yasser Bahjatt. I like how you can click on the talks that he has translated.

A picky comment: Why is Arabic in Latin script? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use Arabic script? Details, I know, but these details count when you’re trying to create content for people who may not understand any English.

Next, here is a screen shot of the most popular talks — at least among translators:

ted_translator2

As TED adds more and more translated content, it’s going to need to devote resources to providing a fully localized user interface (UI).

Right now, TED offers this:

ted_gateway

But for the most part, the TED site expects users to know a fair amount of English if they’re going to navigate to their translated content.

Ultimately, TED will have to localize its Web site — or just the Ted Talks section — so that people can more easily find their translated content. And this I suspect won’t come free.

Nevertheless, TED has proven that its content is translation-worthy and it has done a great job of creating a community of translators who are bound to keep the effort alive and growing.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

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