Two days ago, we presented the course “Translation 2.0.” The professor who runs it, Alicia Martorell, has been kind enough to answer a few questions about the course and the utility of the social webs for translation. Alicia is licensed in philology and Applied Documentation at the University Comillas-ICADE of Madrid. She also has twenty five years of experience in translation in different sectors and fifteen years of experience in training translators.
NAKOM: Good morning, Alicia. First off, could you briefly tell us about your course.
Alicia: This course aims to bring its participants in contact with the world of the collaborative web , to assimilate the changes induced by the second era of the internet and generally get them as clued up as possible. One must bear in mind that until a few years ago we were mere passive users of the internet. Now all that is changing, and although we may not always be conscious of it, we are also producers of information; simply tweeting an article that has seemed interesting to us, leaving a comment about the hotel we stay in on holiday through Trip advisor or even when we click “like”. These changes of perspective have revolutionized the way we access information, our relationship with the internet, the way in which we’re documented and how we promote ourselves.
N: What are the principal advantages that the “2.0 Web” offers for translators?
A: There are three sorts: firstly, and in my opinion, most importantly because of its inevitability and the fact it affects all of us, is the way that our access to information has completely changed. For example, before, to up to date on our areas of specialization, we had to subscribe to expensive paper journals and periodicals which weren’t always that easy to find. Now we’re able to find highly specialized blogs accessible to everyone, which don’t just allow us access high-quality texts but also the possibility of changing topic with complete flexibility. Other collaborative tools, like wikis o social bookmarking, classify, order and prioritize information with astounding speed. In other respects, this type of tool lets us create networks of translators. In today’s world, an isolated translator doesn’t have any value. Lists of distribution, work groups using cloud, collective glossaries and social networks allow us to feel closer and help globalization play in our favour. Finally, the 2.0 web offers different tools for promoting our work, which are more direct and more easily accessible to greater numbers of people. A static web page is difficult to design and maintain; a blog or social network profile can be updated much more easily and help colleagues and clients stay posted on our achievements and new skills.
N: What tool or service do you consider of greatest interest, within the translation sector?
A: Within this area, things can change so quickly that much of what I cite today will be out of date tomorrow. However, we can consider some as fundamental: Wikipedia has revolutionized the way we access basic information. While we can question the quality of some of its articles, we can’t deny that it allows us to access the foundations of any given topic with great speed and ease. Now it only seems natural, but one wonders what people did before to find out the year of release of Gone with the Wind or what the different parts of a violin were called. Delicious among other social bookmarkers are very useful for selecting information. One shouldn’t forget that distribution lists, which are still in use after 15 years (for the internet that’s a huge length of time) are equally useful for obtaining and sharing information.
N: Do you think that classic forums (like ProZ) will lose relevance as the Social Web progresses?
A: I seriously hope so. ProZ was the poor man’s web for some time, offering a source of information on the internet for potential clients if one didn’t want to, or couldn’t have their own web page. It was also a precursory tool for the socialization of contacts and knowledge. The problem with ProZ was (and continues to be) the system of translation service provision, which turned into a market of discounts which could have been a social phenomenon. Now they want to erase this, but it seems to me that it’s already too late. Fortunately, it now competes with other systems in which service professionals, such as translators, are the one’s that control how their services are sold which aren’t related to a low-quality job pool. What’s more, there are also many free and simple ways to be present on the internet, through participation on different networks and services.
N: What percentage of their time should a translation professional dedicate to networking and the promotion of their services?
A: I think these are two different things. Networking is indispensable, not just for promoting oneself, but also for staying in the loop, to grow and allow us to reflect on our own progress. It’s clear that these activities are time consuming, but they also offer a significant return. The future is for those who know how to work in a team and share resources. The world isn’t prepared for competing all on one’s own. In contrast, promotion is different and depends a little on the business model we’re following. There are translators who have rather aggressive marketing policies and others that keep a low profile and grow more slowly, supporting themselves exclusively on social networks and contacts gained in a more natural way. The two models, as well as everything in-between, are valid. What’s important is understanding that we’re not isolated, that any autonomous translator is a small business and that recognizing this is fundamental when it comes to our relations with clients and colleagues.
N: Could you recommend an email list related to translation?
A: Without doubt Translation in Spain. I can’t overstate how important it is. Anyone who has tried it will know…once one gets over the initial shock at the sheer volume of messages. But emails can now be managed effectively, we now have specific tools for it and it doesn’t take as much time.
N: ¿Could you recommend an event related to translation?
A: What’s most important is remaing in contact. The numerous meetups organized periodically by associations, where you can meet colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere with whom one might be able to share resources one day, for example in congresses. Recently there have been some great ones, for example those from the “Spanish, language of translation” or “a look at polysemy”, dedicated to literary translation or the periodic congresses organized by Asetrad. It is important however to show preference to the translation-based conferences over the conferences dedicated to translation-based research. Unless of course you wish to focus on the academic study of translation.
N: What benefits have you obtained from the use of social networks and 2.0 tools?
A: : They’ve helped me systematize knowledge, which is the principal benefit that comes from learning. You learn to differentiate what’s necessary from what’s not, to break down preconceptions that don’t hold up to reality, your forced to stay critical of everything you see. It also helps to be more organized and rigorous, since I never know when I’m going to need a certain resource.
N: Who should attend the course?
A: Above all, people who are weary of the changes brought by the internet and who want to make a small effort to come to terms with them. Also, just anyone curious about what’s now available to them or who’s looking to make the most of tools that they use inefficiently.
N: Many thanks!
Finally, here you can find all the digital resources that Alicia used and which she wants to share with us:
Marcadores sociales de Alicia en del.icio.us