Oh right, I forgot to mention: I’ve been accepted to present to the 32nd Internationalization & Unicode Conference this September! I’m presenting on a topic which I’ve been working on lately: multilingual websites. The title is: Web 2.0 goes to Babel: Multilingual websites and user-supplied content.

Here’s a summary of the talk:

In today’s web, it’s straightforward to publish in any single language. The cool Web 2.0 sites are organised around user-supplied content: postings, tags, comments, photos, videos. But what happens when you try to do all that in more than one language at a time? Do you translate the user-supplied content? And how? Can you crowdsource the localisation? This talk looks at the business, technical, and design issues of multilingual web sites. We’ll look at role models, examine social translation, see how technologies like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, HTTP, and URLs fit in. Get inspired to add another language to your site!

I’m doing research about who’s doing what with multilingual sites, and this conference gives me a focus and a place to present my findings. Let me give you a bit of an idea what I have in mind. This may change by my deadline, of coures.

I want to look at examples: who’s doing it in multiple languages, and how well. Wikipedia and cousins are massively multilingual and user-contributed. Facebook’s Translations application has successfully crowdsourced their localisation, and has a fascinating in-place translation UI.

I want to look at the value proposition, i.e. business issues. Who needs multiple languages and what for? Is content in various languages the same or different? How/why different?

I want to look at structure and design issues. How to link content in one language to another? How to distinguish UI language from content language from geography focus? What are options for the URL structure? What special issues do non-text content (like videos, tags, links) bring?

I want to look at technology, or how to make your blogging system or service or CMS handle the text, and connect to your translators. I hope to cover the capabilities of Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress CMSs; and how to use HTTP to help select which language to supply.

I want to look at options for translation: paid translation, social translation, machine translation. How to choose what to translate first, and how urgently? In-place translation of UI, with Facebook as an example. Linking the web CMS to translator’s tools like translation memory and workbenches. And Process: how to make all the parts move together and on time?

And of course I have only 50 minutes for the presentation, which means at most 35 minutes speaking, so about 10-35 slides. Once I get into it, I’ll have to either summarise greatly, or narrow my focus. The rest will probably end up on this blog or in other presentations.

My talk is presently scheduled for Tuesday right after lunch, which means that I have to be interesting enough to overcome my audience’s post-food doziness. I’m also up against Mark Davis talking about “Unicode in Google“, which I would sort of like to see myself.

The 32nd Internationalization & Unicode Conference runs Monday - Wednesday September 8-10, 2008 at the Hilton San Jose, San José, California. My groupies can register here.