Collaborative real-time translation at WikiMania?

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Collaborative real-time translation at WikiMania?

Hello all,

Attended the Recent Changes Camp in Montreal last May. This was a bilingual event (French and English). During the camp, there was some discussion about how to leverage the fact that many of the attendees spoke both languages and might be able to provide real-time translation for those who don't.

I wonder if we could do something like that for WikiMania, say to provide Chinese <-> English translations?

Here's a scenario that illustrates how this might work.

There are two projectors in the conference room.

One projector displays the slides of the speaker, the other one displays a web browser with a session of SynchEdit opened.

Note: SynchEdit is a web-based collaborative synchronous editor. Many people can simulataneously edit the same document using no more than a web browser. Changes made by any of those users appear in the copies seen by all other users.

The speaker, let's call him Jin-Hai, starts speaking in Chinese. Immediately, a person in the room who speaks Chinese and English, let's call her Yu-Bi, spontaneously starts typing the English translation of the first sentence into SynchEdit (she has a laptop connected to this SynchEdit session using the wireless connection provided at the conference).

After a few seconds, Yu-Bi is running behind. So another person in the room, call him Ming-Li, spontaneously starts typing the translation of the second sentence below the text that Yu-Bi is typing. Two other volunteer translators join it. The four of them are able together to keep up, and still follow the talk.

Then, John from the audience asks a question in English. Louise who is fluent in Chinese, starts typing the Chinese translation into SynchEdit. She's spontaneously joined by Yan-Yu and Xiao-Jian. Jin-Hai, the speaker, who is not that fluent in English looks at the screen in order to make sure he has understood the question well. He then answers back in Chinese, and Yu-Bi, Ming-Li type translation into English.

Could this actually work? I must admit, I don't know the answer. But it would be neat to findout. It's a very wikiesque approach to simultaneou translation.

Maybe it's not realistic to expect that people in the room will spontaneously start doing this and coordinate in real time. Maybe we need to recruit a number of volunteers ahead of time so that they could practice ahead of time?

Also, I'm not sure how well SynchEdit supports chinese characters.

Opinions, suggestions anyone?

Alain D├ęsilets, National Research Council of Canada
Chair, WikiSym 2007

2007 International Symposium on Wikis
Wikis at Work in the World:
Open, Organic, Participatory Media for the 21st Century

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