The Spirit behind the MultilingualWeb Pisa Event

In a previous post, I commented on the outstanding choice of Pisa, Italy as the setting for the most recent MultilingualWeb Workshop:

MultilingualWeb and the City of Pisa

One of the primary reasons was that the location gave the event a unique essence or spirit, especially in comparison with other translation and localization industry conferences. While many of the attendees knew each other from other events, some, including myself, did not know anyone at the Workshop. Nevertheless, I felt welcome at the event and a part of the community when the time came to talk about the Multilingual Web.

One of the officers of Lionbridge, Paula Shannon, crossed the Atlantic, all the way from Montreal to Pisa, to give a 30 minute presentation about what is happening in social media.  Remarkably, she did this without even the slightest attempt to sell anything (which is the common undertone of most presentations at conferences these days). Paula is Lionbridge’s CSO, which stands for “Chief Sales Officer”… However, her presentation, just like all the others, was completely objective.  Paula Shannon was so objective that when her presentation ended, someone asked her what kind of products Lionbridge offered that were related to CMS and complained that she hadn’t mentioned any product information during the presentation.

It also found it interesting to hear Richard Ishida, the head of the W3C Internationalization Department, talk about current developments in Internationalization with regard to HTML 5. The general feeling was we were at the “hot spot” with respect to what is happening right now in the world of multilingual content, as Eliot Nedas from XTM International told me at the reception in the lobby of “Chiostro di San Francesco”.

Manuel Herranz shared with us his experiences from PangeaMT in the use of automatic translations, which was an educational experience. But it was even more interesting when he told us about how Pangeanic managed to find its own place in the competitive industry of translations, becoming experts in a niche with incredible potential.

It was enlightening to hear Fernando Serván from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization discuss the challenges that international organizations such as the FAO face when translating to the United Nations’ six official languages. The unit that Fernando manages has the same needs and problems as a medium-sized LSP, but significantly more responsibility: what they translate, at times, automatically becomes law in a country; therefore, they cannot allow themselves the luxury to make a mistake as it could potentially cause major problems.

It was flattering to see that someone such as Dag Schmidtke, head of the Microsoft European Development Center and in charge of, take interest in my findings about the use of Longtail for Multilingual Positioning.  I told Dag, “You probably don’t need Multilingual SEO as well… you are”  He humbly replied: “We do need it.” is available in 40 languages and receives one billion visitors per year, and, on top of that, they are Microsoft. Even so, according to Dag, they have a need for Multilingual SEO.

These examples show the unique essence  and spirit of the MultilingualWeb Workshop  in Pisa. MultilingualWeb Pisa video recordings, as well as slides and IRC logs are available here:

W3C Workshop: Content on the Multilingual Web