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Distributed translation

Chris RageBoy Locke — whom, btw, has posted a knockout portfolio of his Web design work — points out in an email that pages Google translates automatically now let any reader suggest a better translation. So, if you go about a third of the way down this page and look for the first book cover, you’ll see a work by Alan De Benoist, titled “On Being a Floyd.” Hover over the title and you’ll see “On Being a Pagan” in a popup, with a button for you to suggest your own alternative translation. RageBoy is the one who suggested “On Being a Pagan.” Chris refers to Google’s approach as “wide area knowledge acquisition.”

If evil-ass spammers start translating Rilke’s poetry into Viagra ads, then Google will have to come up with some social way of monitoring the reader-contributed translations. But this is another instance of the 1% rule: A tiny percentage of people can make the world better for all the rest. And it’s pretty darn cool. [Tags: ]

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5 Responses to “Distributed translation”

  1. Are you sure about this? In the original Russian-language page the title is given (in English) as “On being a Pagan”; “Floyd” seems to have been inserted in translation. The hover text isn’t ChrisL’s contribution, it’s just the original wording – which in this case happens to be in English.

    Why Google translates the word ‘pagan’ as ‘Floyd’ is another question; it only seems to do this if the source language is Russian.

  2. If there are wiki-like spaces to aggregate, compare (and perhaps rate) the “wide area knowledge acquisition” translations, might they become known as waka spaces … from wikis to wakas ?

  3. You’re probably aware of this by now .. this fellow is demanding an accountability from Chris. Good example of how quickly posses might be mounted on the Web.

  4. And Chris’ response:

    Of course the awfulness aimed at Kathy was horrible.

  5. Hmmm,

    I question the wisdom of allowing just anyone to become a translator.

    It’s a pretty tricky thing to do well, you know?


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