RMLL/LSM 2010 - 2/3 - Internationalization
This post is part of 3 posts about 2010 LSM debriefing. The 3 topics covered will be :
Disclamer : the ideas below are only mine and any way not those of the 2010 LSM organization team.
Well, let’s speak about something that has been quite important for me this year : setting up a cross technical topics track in english.
During the 2009 LSM, I have set up with my security topic co-chairmen an English spoken afternoon with the english speakers. The French speakers that have also their talks during this afternoon have to do them in English too.
After that I have a quite long discussion with Thomas Petazzoni on internalization of talks and of the event : for Thomas,a solution combining efficiently French and English for talks does not exist. Either LSM is a total French speaking event or LSM will become a full English spoken talks event. For me, combining the two languages is a crucial point. Let’s see why (from my point of view only of course …).
Why combining English and French talks is important?
To understand why combining the two languages in talks is important, it is necessary to understand my vision of the utility of events like LSM.
LSM for me (tends to) address several problems :
- setting up bridges between free software developers from different communities (embedded vs Internet vs OS vs development etc) and languages
- brings free software expertise from whatever it comes to LSM visitors
- installs less barriers as possible between expertise and visitors
For me, to meet these expectations we have to be able to :
- invite non french spoken speakers (expertise, bridge)
- combine their talks with french talks (bridge, less barriers)
The 2010 answer at a Program level
So we invite english spoken speakers.
And in counterpart, to put them in a situation the more comfortable we can, we decide this year to set up a cross technical topics continuous english spoken track. Our goal was to be able to say to english spearkers that at any hour of any day of LSM, they were able to find a technical talk in english.
And this is exactly what we manage to set up through the commitment and hard work of all topic chairmen and speakers.
The result is here :
Why we do not succeed to provide a comfortable event for English speakers ?
First of all, because if you want to do so, it is definitively not at the Program level you have to work. It is at the top level of the event organization.
- inconsistent signalization and translations
- English track for talks has not been actively promoted enough on the website
- a single point of contact for foreign speakers has always to be set up because coming from Oslo or Sydney and only speaking English is far not as simple as coming from Paris and speaking French
- a single location is a definitive requirement to make talks, people, events easily accessed for English spoken people
And I mention only a subset of all the remarks they made.
Ways to improve the process
First, we have to address above problems.
But if I have to select one proposal, it would be the proposal made by Jamey which would be a major step IMHO on the road on a successful internationalized event : having a non French speaking person in the core team of the organization to be the “International conscience” of the event. This person would check all materials produced by the organization (website, practical informations, locations, process etc) from an International point of view.
Jamey said also it would be necessary to made an international call for paper. I agree despite the fact it requires some solids networks to succeed.
And to understand why even small details can break your initiative on the road to success, I let the final word to Sarah :
“You want an idea to improve my LSM experience ? Just add a flag on the badge of each person to say what language each person speaks !”
Enough said !
We try, we don’t (entirely) succeed, we want to improve : thank you for your presence and your already made feedbacks ! We welcome another feedbaks of course.
For my part, I strongly believe mix-language speakers and talks are requirements to improve exchanges, networks but also local (the french area where LSM takes place each year) access to Free Software expertise. But to do so, we have to improve STRONGLY the way we handle internationalization of the event and the way we receive foreign people.