TED (Technology-Entertainment-Design), the annual conference that brings together influential people from the areas of technology, entertainment and design, is now offering translated videos of speeches and performances from its conferences. According to the Huffington Post, “the TED Open Translation Project is one of the most comprehensive attempts by a major media platform to subtitle and index online video content. It’s also a groundbreaking effort in the public, professional use of volunteer translation.”
One of the most distinctive features about this project is that it allows volunteers who visit the site to translate talks into their native languages, with no restrictions as to which languages can be used. To get the project started, a small number of talks were translated by professionals into 20 different languages, but from then on, volunteers took over. Now, the project has over 300 videos translated into 42 different languages and more are being added everyday.
The languages of the translations range from languages as dominant as Mandarin Chinese to languages like Kirghiz, which only has about 4 million speakers. The translations are available in the form of subtitles, shown on the bottom of the video player, and as transcripts. The transcripts are interactive-you can use them to select the part of the video that you’d like to play back.
Other than the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing a good thing, what’s in it for the volunteers? The volunteers who translate these videos get credited for their work, and set up profiles on the TED site. So, if you volunteer to translate, you get the ability to promote yourself on an established website.
All in all, this is a cool project. The videos make the knowledge exchanged at the TED conferences available to everyone, and the translations mean that more people across the world will benefit.