08 Jul 2011

The Value of Crowdsourcing


To help students choose their next career move, we have launched a new student section for the TranslateMedia website. Our aim is to provide an extremely useful resource that offers CV advice, a description of career opportunities, detailed explanations of all translation technologies, along with informative case studies and course information.


To mark the launch of the student section, we have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to Enrika Baleviciute, winner of the DCU Cipherion Translation award for her dissertation on crowdsourcing.


Aside from taking the opportunity to quiz Baleviciute about her insightful work on crowdsourcing, we managed to ask Baleviciute for her tips for upcoming translators and interpreters.




Crowdsourced translation and recent evolutions in translation technology are bringing new opportunities for professional translators? Or is this collaborative approach hazarding the professionalism?


I believe that crowdsourced translation and recent evolutions in translation technology provide many different opportunities, not just for professional translators, but for translators of all levels.


Participation in crowdsourcing activities is an effective way of using your cognitive surplus as by taking part the contributor can keep their existing translation skills sharp and also learn new ones. For translators to-be it is also a fantastic way to gain some experience, which could benefit them in their future career.


The idea of getting translations done for free might seem very attractive and cost-effective to many businesses. However, it is never really cost-free.


In order to achieve successful results from crowdsourced translations, one would need to invest a lot of time, to provide an environment for contributors to work in, to manage the crowd, keep it motivated, etc.


So implementation of successful crowdsourcing techniques is not as simple as it would seem. Therefore, I don’t think it is hazarding the work of the professional translators. I believe that there are markets for both, professional and crowdsourced translations.


There are some translations tasks that are well suited to crowdsourcing practices while there are other ones that require professional quality that just professional translators with many years of experience could provide.


Crowdsourced translation is massively diffused in the major social media. We tend to cluster online around shared cultural values. Is crowdsourced translation helping the technological shift toward the semantic web?


Crowdsourced translations may be very beneficial in the shift towards the semantic web if implemented using the correct techniques. There are potentially vast amounts of translations that can be performed through the use of crowdsourcing practices, and if presented in a machine friendly format would present a significant step towards the further development of the semantic web.


However, if the crowdsourcing techniques are badly implemented without a sufficient understanding of the semantic web, the crowdsourced translations may add little to this technological shift.


After your brilliant results, what are your career plans? Do you have any work experience alongside your academic commitment? And what are your advices to future linguists?


I am seriously considering continuing my studies and completing a masters programme. I think that would be a great way to gain more academic research experience.


Alongside my academic work I do some voluntary translations, and that is my work experience at the moment. Even if most of the times it is not official work practice it is still very valuable, as I am able to learn new things and use my existing translation skills.


If I were to give some advice to future linguists, it would have to be about keeping an open mind to changes and new technologies, and not to underestimate the potential one could gain from simply spending few hours doing voluntary translations.


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