Something rather controversial for you today. The video presentation below discusses book digitization, use of crowd resources, and translation by non-professionals concurrently with language learning.
I think that the lawyers reading this will have plenty to say about various legal issues here, not to mention translators’ opinions.
The presenter, Luis von Ahn, is an associate professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and is at the forefront of the crowdsourcing craze. He “builds systems that combine humans and computers to solve large-scale problems that neither can solve alone”.
As far as I see it, some of the debatable points raised are the use of humans (without them being made aware of it) to assist in the optical character recognition (OCR) of books that may subsequently be sold, translation by using the crowd (and, what’s more, non-native speakers) as opposed to professionals, and the effectiveness of learning a language through translation.
On the other hand, we can, of course, take a positive view – the provision of free open access to books and language learning to all, in particular the poor, and the use of time instead of money as remuneration for services.
Despite the fact that Von Ahn claims to be aiming to “leverage the crowd for human good”, it is possibly of some concern that he mentions “monetizing” translations. Clearly another example of the paradox that is the Internet with its conflicting potentials.
Do write in with a comment below and let me know your thoughts!