Let’s talk translation. Remember Babel fish? Good at the time, but they lost their place in the market due to the quality of human powered Google translation with an API. Today, we have another player in the market, Facebook connect. Once you’ve integrated Facebook connect into your site, you can offer users a variety of languages to translate the website into, thanks to the Facebook Translations application. Something Babelfish, Google, WordPress but also Twitter can learn from, don’t be the API – integrate translation services on Blogger, Twitter, WordPress etc. seamlessly.
Ok leaving the Facebook promotion out of the way – hooray for their new service – but that is not my point. I am enthusiastic about this particular translation service because I believe it’s about time that along with the world itself, the Internet becomes flat as well. (Are you reading this Thomas Friendman?) The image above displays the Internet penetration of the world, according to worldstats, made for Wiki by Emilfaro (CC). These (mostly) California based companies need to get their heads out of the US and realize that the next step is to make language a transparent artifact on the Internet. Recognise that, at the time of writing, China has already 30% more internet users then the US. Group Japan, India and Brazil together, and you get another group at the US proportions, according to the Internet world stats.
One of the best examples of removing the language barriers can be found on Twitter. There is plentiful amount of relevant information on Twitter, especially with Geolocation coming up. The problem is that Twitter can be translated using RSS feeds, but it still requires a lot of work. It would be nice if Twitter could integrate an option to translate feeds on the go, either based on Google or Facebook translation services, I don’t care.
The existing painful and long process can be reduced, both with feedlanguage.com and Firefox plugins like FoxLingo, but they still require manual work to accomplish the optimum result. The experience of reading Zwahili, Arabic, Spanish or German should be unnoticeable in order to create a truly global dialogue. Tapping the crowd, the true Internet crowd is essential in order for us to understand the new world.