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Category Archives: Google
Connecting to the internet on a small screen mobile device is only fun when you can interact with useful information without extensive typing or squinting. Things get even better when web tools provide useful ways to interact with a place using a mobile device’s camera and GPS. There are dozens of location-sharing tools out there, but I recently explored some interesting ones you might not have heard about yet.
The internet is the great equalizer. As long as we have an internet connection and some device to browse it, we can connect with people and organizations, read news and information from around the world whenever we desire. A large barrier to this interaction, though, is language. For example, if we don’t speak or read Mandarin, so much of the world’s online content escapes us. With a projected 718 million internet users in China by 2013 and Chinese web content mostly user-generated and internally referential (Wikipedia), a huge internet voice is lost to the rest of the world.
Although internet-based language translation applications still have a long way to go, there are some important projects underway, using a combination of applications and volunteer translators, that are expanding (revolutionizing) the reach of meaningful online information.
Like everyone else at Google, the language translation team doesn’t sit still. Google is innovating in this space, and there are some exciting new Google translation tools.Google Translate is good enough when you just want to get an idea about what the content is conveying. Many subtleties of languages trip-up the translator, but well-written articles usually translate well. To make it extremely easy to use Google Translate, Google even built it into its Chrome Browser.
Google Language Tools
Google’s Language Tools search is a nifty tool that allows you to search content in your language, finds content in other languages, and then translates them into your language for you.
Google Health Information Translation Project
Another Google translation initiative is the volunteer-based Health information translation project. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, is piloting an initiative to have volunteers translate Wikipedia health information from English into three languages, including Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili.
Other interesting translation projects involve video, which is a rapidly growing portion of internet traffic (According to Cisco, Internet video is now over one-third of all consumer Internet traffic, and will approach 40 percent of consumer Internet traffic by the end of 2010).
Mozilla’s drumbeat is a crowd-sourcing project portal. One of the very interesting and audacious goal of subtitling, captioning and translating every video on the web. The Universal subtitle tool is fairly intuitive and the resulting translation file can be saved for uploading to YouTube.
TED Open Translation Project
The TED Open Translation Project aims to harness an army of global volunteers to translate TEDTalks into as many languages as possible. TED seeded the translation project by hiring professionals to translate a handful of TEDTalks into twenty languages. The initiative has grown considerably, and there are now 78 different languages represented by 3,730 translators creating 10,963 translations. The most translated TEDTalk is Ken Robinson’s ‘Schools Kill Creativity‘, which is translated into 45 languages so far.
The Global Voices project, co-founded by Ethan Zuckerman, is a web-based portal of more than 300 bloggers and translators from around the world who work together to report news not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. Currently, Global Voices translates content into more than 15 languages by volunteer translators.
On Flickr, I came across a photo of a page from a Korean book. The owner had posted it and requested assistance with its translation. Several people provided detailed information about the translation, providing quite a bit of background, history, and context for the object. This informal crowdsourced example shows not only that anyone can participate, but that the resulting body of information goes well beyond the straight translation. A very useful example of informal crowdsourcing!
Translation tools and crowdsourcing initiatives are expanding meaningful formal and informal communications to make our world even flatter.
Google is constantly adding useful features to its already very powerful online collaborative office suite. In some cases, Google Docs might even be a viable alternative to a personal website. For example, you can create a document and publish it in html format, therefore creating content viewable by everyone on the internet. The form tool within spreadsheets makes creating online polls, application or request forms simple — no html required. You can even embed your form in a blog or web page. I really like that you can organize related documents within a Google docs folder and then, using the advanced search, query by keyword within the folder. If you need to backup your slide presentation, upload it to Google docs and even deliver the presentation right from within your Google docs account. There are too many features stashed inside Google docs to list them all here, but check out how some students and educators are using Google Docs.
According to the Official Google Blog, Google is planning to release its new Chrome OS later this year. It is, of course, a minimalistic OS, separate from Android and based on the Chrome Browser. It will be designed for folks who mostly work online so that it will be fast. The coolest thing about Chrome OS is that it will be handed to the Open Source community, who can write applications for it using web technology coding. Web developers, rejoice!
Read more about it on the Official Google Blog.