By Katharine Allen and Barry S. Olsen
Welcome to InterpretAmerica 3.0!
You may have noticed by now that our website has a different look from what it's been for the past several years. That's right, we've jumped to a new platform. And to be honest, it's not really version 3.0, it's more like InterpretAmerica 5.0.
Since our founding in 2009, we have moved through no less than five different website platforms. It's not because we have a short attention span (truly!). It's really the pace of change in communication platforms that has us, and many of you, we suspect, running to keep up. The pace of change, and more importantly, the nature of this change in how people communicate, has spurred us to upgrade and update, so we can be more responsive to you.
InterpretAmerica 3.0 is a play on the idea of the Web 3.0, also known as the semantic web. We think this is the perfect metaphor for what we hope to accomplish with our new, more interactive and streamlined site. The metaphor doesn't stop there. It has everything to do with where we think interpreting is headed.
Before we go too far down this road, let's define our terms. What, exactly, is Web 3.0 or the semantic web?
The semantic web can be boiled down very simply to this idea of a "smart web," referring to the kinds of smart technologies we interact with every day. Our "smart" phone has many applications built in that learn our habits and interests and send us targeted information to help us through our day. A "smart" web is one where humans and machines interact in concert to create content that is individualized and targeted. It can be as simple as the list of suggested, similar products generated by an Amazon search or as complex as artificial intelligence being applied to helping create and run city-wide transportation systems.
Many boil the idea into the ever-more-ubiquitous phrase: " the Internet of Things."
Simply put, [the Internet of Things-IoT] is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other)....the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can't even think of or fully understand the impact of today. Source: Forbes
An example of how the Web 3.0 will impact our everyday lives might look like this;
In Web 3.0, while you are driving, you can simply ask your automotive assistant a question (“I would like to watch a romantic movie and eat Japanese food”). The search engine embedded in the car assistant provides you with a personalized response that takes into account your location, suggesting the closest cinema that matches your request and a good Japanese restaurant by automatically consulting the reviews on social media. Then it might even present a 3D menu from the restaurant in the display. Source: http://www.expertsystem.com/web-3-0/
This scenario is, in essence, already a reality. Each of us is experiencing it in one way or another in our personal and professional lives.
The "Internet of Interpreting"
Okay, so back to InterpretAmerica, interpreting and what Web 3.0 has to do with us.
Web 3.0 and the "Internet of Things" is embedding instant connectivity and interaction into almost every area of our lives. The "always connected, all the time" reality is not limited to interactions between people who speak the same language. It is international and multilingual at its core. Thus, the need to overcome spoken language barriers is central to the success of the "Internet of Things."
That's where we come in. In practical terms, this means that the where, how, when and for whom our services are needed is rapidly diversifying. Face-to-face and telephonic interpreting are already expanding out to include video platforms over any kind of mobile or Internet-connected device. The demand for multi-lingual communication is so huge that the race is now on for reliable machine translation with Siri-like speech applications. We cannot ignore that a crucial component of our once sleepy profession now resembles an "Internet of Interpreting" that is being woven into the evolving "Internet of Things."
In other words, interpreting is at the nexus of this change. The fundamental drive humans have to communicate, interact and connect cannot be separated from language, our primary communication tool.
InterpretAmerica's mission is to "raise the profile of interpreting." Over the (almost) last 10 years, we have chronicled these developments in our blogs, conferences and trainings. We have collaborated with professional associations, on task forces and in lobbying efforts. We have tracked the companies and tech vendors who employ and serve interpreters. We have even helped design new interpreting technology. We have encouraged all of us, no matter what part of the interpreting field we are in, to pause occasionally, and take stock of our broader profession, to make new connections, to do what we can, individually and in concert, to grow, strengthen and professionalize what we do.
Along the way, we have learned how to blog, vlog, build websites, livestream conferences, meet virtually, and communicate via social media. These skills help us do what we have set out to do, but they have also given us precious insight into what challenges individual interpreters face as they, too, try to find traction in a changing workplace. They have also given us insight into solutions and viable pathways forward.
InterpretAmerica 3.0 is our attempt to update our platform so we, too, can be "smarter," more responsive and more innovative in all ways. We want to deepen our connection to you, broaden the impact of our efforts to promote our profession and stay nimble and responsive to the fast-changing time we are in.
We thank each and every one of you for taking this journey with us. Take a moment to explore our new site. You'll find our blogs are streamlined and nicer (we think) to look at. You can contact us through subscribing, sending us an email or commenting on our posts or through our social media feeds. You can partner with us for training, public speaking and consulting.
Send us your thoughts and ideas. We looking forward to hearing from you.
Katharine Allen and Barry S. Olsen