I am helping to start a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning. This post is the second in a series where I put into words my percolating thoughts about this group.  See also, A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who (Oct 31, 2014).

Happily, this group has already started. We held our first meeting on Monday, Dec 8, 2014. Our placeholder Twitter feed is @imlig1604; follow that and you’ll stay connected when we pick our final name. And we have a group on LinkedIn for sharing ideas. The link isn’t very memorable, but go to LinkedIn Groups and search for “Vancouver localization”; you will find us. (We don’t yet have an account on the Meetup.com service.)  If you are in the Lower Mainland and are interested, I would welcome your participation.

Continuing with my reflections about this group, here are thoughts on why this group should exist, and what it might be named.

Why

The Vancouver area is a curious place for the technology globalization practitioner. It has a thriving technology industry, so localization definitely happens here. It is a vividly multicultural community, blessed with people from all over the world, and with a huge variety of languages used.

However, it is an economy of branch offices and small firms. The firms based here are typically small enough to not yet have localization activity. As they get big and successful, they are often bought by another firm from Toronto or Silicon Valley or abroad — and the headquarters is no longer here. The Vancouver office becomes a branch. It turns out that a lot of internationalization and localization happens in either the headquarters of an enterprise, or in the field office of the target market. A branch office is neither, and so much of the globalization practice is elsewhere.

There are, however, notable exceptions. Hootsuite is a local firm which is growing rapidly, has global ambitions (for instance their early localization into Japanese), and intends to achieve them from Vancouver. There are other local successes, like Avigilonk. Among the past successes, Crystal Decisions, which became Business Objects, which became part of SAP, still performs some world-wide localization activity from the Vancouver office.  Our region has language technology firms like GlobalMe, and language providers like LingoStar. We have numerous interpreters and translators. We even have (ahem) individual consultants like Jim DeLaHunt & Associates.

The internationalization and localization group in a product company is typically a tiny fraction of the whole. It’s easy to feel lonely. In a region with no globe-spanning technology colossus (yet), no one company’s group will be large. But by banding together, we can reach a critical mass. We need each other for new ideas, alternate points of view, resources, and opportunities.

I believe that a GILT-centred face-to-face meeting will be valuable for the participants, and an important step in the maturing technology community of the Vancouver area as a whole.

Naming

Our localisation / translation / technology-product community has a terrible time agreeing on a general label for ourselves. We don’t event agree what “globalization” means to us. Thus, it’s hard to come up with a widely-recognisable name for the meeting. But here are some ideas of mine.

It’s tempting to use the name of our inspiration, IMUG, as in “IMUG Vancouver”. We should probably get their blessing on that.

Some use the acronym GILT: Globalisation, Internationalisation, Localisation, Translation. It is getting traction inside our circles, but it isn’t widely recognised among our customers. And one of our community tweeted me, I think it’s time for the term “GILT” to die. (He has similar scorn for the neologism transcreation).

Any of the individual terms, “localization”, “internationalization”, etc. are too narrow to include us all. And we can do better than lapse into our insider jargon. Not to mention the tension between our Canadian “-isation” spelling, and the better-recognised US “-ization” with a zed.

One of our founders came up with the delightful name,  “global freaks”. I quite like that name. It has personality! But personality isn’t always a blessing in a brand.

I’ve tentatively adopted the acronym “IMLIG”, meaning “Internationalization (i18n), Multilingual (M10l), Localization (L10n) Interest Group”.  It’s not great, but it’s a place to start.

The geographical name is also a conundrum. The group should serve the region, roughly the Lower Mainland or Metro Vancouver. But “Vancouver” is a somewhat chauvanistic term for the region, as many from Surrey or Burnaby will be happy to remind us.

For now, I’ve adopted the telephone dialing code “1-604″, i.e. the North America country code and the Lower Mainland area code. “604″ is widely recognisable to the regional target audience. And it avoids a casual assumption of a North American context by including the country code “1″. If someone wants to start a Tokyo group, “IMLIG 82-3″ is available.

To be continued …

So that’s it for the second installment. Come back soon for part (3) “Where, When, and How”.

[Updated 2015-01-25: fixed error in title, now reads “Why, Naming” instead of “What, Who”.]