It’s now been 5 days since I arrived home from San Francisco, and I’ve been busy the past few days with all the usual kinds of stuff that you have to deal with when you’ve been away from the office for three weeks. But tonight (9 August) I’m back on the road (or the tracks – on the sleeper down to London) for an ITI meeting, so I have a spare hour or so now to look back at the past week and work out what I and ITI can learn from my trip across to the USA.
The Open Congress was an eye-opener for me, as I’ve not experienced a US-style translation conference before. Apart from the sheer number of delegates (630) and the size of the venue (not to mention the size of everything else around me, which seemed to dwarf any European equivalent I had seen before), the lack of opportunity to meet in plenary apart from the keynote sessions each morning and the lack of a coherent lunch break was disconcerting to say the least. I understand the difficulties of holding plenaries with that number of delegates, and it’s probably a challenge that we in ITI will not have to face anytime soon, given our conferences are generally attended by between 120 and 200 delegates. However, the idea of having to arrange lunch at breakfast or face the prospect of eating alone was challenging to come to terms with first thing in the morning! As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m very grateful to Karen Tkaczyk for arranging my lunch on the first day.
The Open Congress seemed to be very well organised, under the overall management of ATA’s Jiri Stejskal. It was disappointing to see quite so many cancelled sessions, though I was perhaps fortunate that either the cancellations did not affect me directly or the replacement presentations were excellent (for example, the first cancellation of the conference gave me the opportunity to attend Nick Hartmann’s excellent improvised talk on terminology and customer relationships). However, the size of the venue and the lack of plenary sessions meant that sometimes you could wander the corridors and see only 30 or 40 people, which, when you were aware that there were in fact 630 people attending, gave the impression that you were possibly missing something.
During the conference I took the opportunity to learn about a couple of projects that are new to me. The first was the EULITA project, which culminated in the creation of an association of legal interpreters and translators in Europe in 2009. EULITA is active on a number of issues, including the reaction in the UK to the Ministry of Justice’s decision to award a framework contract for the provision of translation and interpreting services to a single agency and to do away with the previous National Agreement, which had been developed and consulted on by all of the stakeholders, including ITI.
The second new project is Linport – a new portability standard for translation packages. The idea is simple – each translation tool vendor, such as SDL, Kilgray, Atril, etc., has its own proprietary package format, and none of them are interchangeable. Linport aims to fill this gap, giving vendors an open standard that they can support to allow translators and customers to work in the tool of their choice, whatever that may be. Of course, there are still interoperability issues with different tools supporting different levels of the individual translation memory, terminology and segmentation interchange standards, but Linport is an exciting intiative that deserves the support of the entire industry. It seems to me to be a win-win-win-win-win solution!
And now I’m back down to Milton Keynes, for the second time in as many months, which isn’t really what I was hoping for when I put myself forward for Council. However, this Council meeting promises to be extremely exciting, for reasons I can’t yet go into, and I hope that soon we will be in a position where we can get into a more regular rhythm of meetings, both physical and virtual.