A few years ago, I took a class at the Harvard Extension school entitled Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control. We covered a lot of emerging Internet concepts including the power of the masses and net neutrality. A lot of the concepts we covered were very much in their infancy including Wikileaks, Amazon’s mechanical Turk, Wikipedia and crowdsourcing. I recently came full-circle with crowdsurfing on my blog. According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call. While doing price checks for patent translation services, I came across a free translation WordPress plugin by GTS Translation. The plugin provides a widget (utilizing crowdsourcing) that allows you (or your readers) to convert your blog (or whatever other text you have) into Spanish, French, or German. It also caches the results so that search engines can mine your content in other languages.
I have used computer-generated translation services before. Google’s translate service, for instance, used to be awful, but has made a lot of improvements lately. I was expecting this plugin to be awful as well because most of my posts are very specific and it would take someone that knows what I’m talking about in English to make a good translation into another language. But I don’t know French, Spanish, or German to really evaluate each translation. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when my good friend Spencer looked at it for me and informed me that a reader could get the gist of what I was talking about. To me, that is the most important. I am sure the technology will only get better as more people participate in crowdsourcing. My next hope is that they offer additional languages, like Russian. After all, the world is obviously becoming increasingly interconnected. You may as well get your message to this increasingly interconnected audience.
The plugin can be found here.