Localization Unconference Silicon Valley 2013: Video is the New Document for L10n

Attended the Localization Unconference last week at the Salesforce offices in San Mateo, California. What a blast! About 120 attendees in all, a wide range of topics, and much style and flair in evidence made it a great day. I’ve been absent from the Silicon Valley event for a while, and it was a thrill to be back in person, meeting new people and seeing some older, more familiar faces too. No selling, no PowerPoint, and some very thorough and fair facilitation kept the energy and participation rocking throughout the day.

Much organization, style and glamour brought the Localization Unconference to life at the Salesforce offices. Thank you.

Much organization, style, and glamour brought the Localization Unconference to life at the Salesforce offices. Thank you. (Teresa Marshall of Salesforce and Scott Schwalbach of VistaTEC pictured).

Event feedback was positive and indeed, many attendees expressed the view that, based on all the love shared,  maybe all localization conferences should be run this way.

A screenshot of the main whiteboard with the topics up for discussion gives you an idea of what’s on Localization Unconference goers’ minds these days:

Localization Unconference topics: Video localization was up there.

Localization Unconference topics: Video localization was up there. So hot it was there twice.

Key takeaways for me from the day were:

  • Video localization is really up a hot topic. Lack of L10n-enabled tools is an issue, and it appears localizing these formats can be a very expensive business, especially when marketing material is involved (thankfully people nobody said “transcreation”). This stuff ain’t cheap to localize, and the process can be painful, but then so is localizing millions or words of unread documentation. At least the video format has traction with real users in today’s YouTubed learning world. Plus, community video plays its role too. “Video is the new document for localization” became almost a new industry meme on the day. Indeed.
  • There was a willingness to discuss the more eh, political dimensions of L10n, such as how the function gets disconnected from the rest of the business and how the function itself doesn’t always communicate well within itself across organization. Political dynamics, office politics, leadership, communications breakdown, “not invented here” syndrome, it was all going on. Perhaps it was me, but I detected an edgier view of our world, one that is a welcome counterbalance to the usual PowerPoint deck-driven PR puffery.
Worst cases? Disconnects? Surviving localization? What is this new realism that is upon us?

Worst cases? Disconnects? Surviving localization? What is this new realism that is upon us? Are we getting old?

  • The unconference community has tired of machine translation as a topic. Perhaps everyone has implemented their automated solutions beautifully, and it’s all a done deal. Or maybe, it’s all been heard before. Or, maybe it’s still mind-numbingly boring stuff best left to managers at paid-up posh translation automation events. YMMV as to which theory best applies here. Anyway, it wasn’t up for discussion. Using Microsoft Excel in localization would be a more realistic and relevant topic, I heard.
  • Pink is definitely the color to wear at these events. Pretty much, pink shirts are becoming the #LocUnConf  wellies equivalent seen at outdoor rock events in Europe. And rightly so.

At the end of the event donations collected in lieu of paying for the super lunch provided were taken. The Salesforce Foundation matched the amount and so, some 1,000 USD should be winging its way to Translators Without Borders soon.

Many thanks to the team of Salesforce, VistaTec, and anyothers who made this  event happen. And so, on to Localization World, London, 2013. See you there. At another Localization Unconference.

Keep it in pink, people.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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