May 8, 2010

memoQfest 2010: we all win

My intention to live blog this year's memoQfest 2010 didn't work out, though I managed a few pre-breakfast posts in the days before the conference and the occasional tweet during the sessions. There was simply too much going on. Either my full attention was focused on the great information and surprise announcements or I was out on the terrace of the beautiful venue at Restaurant Gundel recaffeinating my brain and trying to catch my breath for the next round. The event's location was much better than last year at Hotel Benczúr, which was quite adequate and which served as the location for the gala 5th birthday party for Kilgray on Thursday evening. The atmosphere was great, but it often went unnoticed, because many of the announcements and presentations had my attention in a mental vise grip. The riveting workshop by Angelika Zerfass on data migration best practices (to and from memoQ) on the day before the main conference was definitely a harbinger of what was to come: interoperability and integration of memoQ were in one way or another part of nearly every presentation. I think this reflects a broader industry trend which one can see with Kilgray's better competitors as well and of which SDL's move to XLIFF is a good example. But there's a special flavor to interoperability with memoQ which I really don't taste elsewhere and which is the result of the unique spicing of the company's support philosophy and its team's understanding that no matter how good tools and processes are what matters in the end are the people. This is so obvious in Kilgray's interactions with partners and customers that shortly before I was to deliver my own talk Friday morning on interoperability I threw out the script I had been preparing since November and talked about interoperability and the dignity of the participants in the processes, the translators, editors, clients and everyone else involved. The technical bits had already been covered in more detail than I will ever be capable of discussing.

There appears to be a perfect storm brewing in Budapest. But not a destructive one: already the pressure of innovation and good attitude from the east of Europe has caused the industry's biggest player to take some positive steps in the past two years which have benefitted many in our profession. And the teams and technologies I saw gathered at the conference in the past week promise a deluge of innovation and good practice that will benefit even those who can't be bothered with translation environment tools.

No, I haven't been oversampling the Unicum, nor am I being too caught up in my own rhetoric as I sometimes am. I just saw a lot of stuff that gives me just cause for optimism. Most importantly optimism about the ability of my colleagues, clients and others to work together more effectively no matter what religious TEnT they seek shelter in. Although it's really clear now even to those with the thickest skulls that Kilgray has got the innovation, attitude and endurance to go the distance with its best competitors in the translation tools field, the best news for me is that the company's real openness to that competition and Kilgray's commitment to making processes work as well as helping people work together in a reasonable way will help bring about that rising tide which lifts all boats.


  1. Hi Kevin,

    I just wanted to let you know that I think this is all so much better than your RTFM-forum-posting days at ProZ! Top-notch, dedicated and hard working translators such as yourself are very hard to find these days. You are an asset to the profession. Keep it up and all the best!


  2. @Niraja: I know some of my Proz posts probably offended you, and I'm sure you would have been shocked here too if I had used the screen shot of a ProZ Google ad offering dubious services directly over your picture and name. (Yes, I have one and will never use it.) ProZ is an environment in which it is difficult to maintain one's patience for reasons of which you are undoubtedly aware. There are many good things to be found there, but the combination of bad moderation, ludicrous censorship and the predominance of redundant questions which could be answered with the simplest of searches wears on one's patience after a while.

    Of course the sheer volume of forum activity makes it hard for those unaccustomed to looking for information to find it. I started this blog a year and a half ago so that (1) I could express ideas and communicate information without worrying about some moderator or wannabe junta member deleting it because I use an acronym like "RTFM" (which people quite honestly should once in a while) and to (2) find some way to make important technical information more accessible and keep it updated (if I find the time). Some of the changes I've made over the past year, like introducing the keyword cloud on the left bar, is intended to accomplish #2, though it also requires me to do a major review and overhaul of my keywords to get it right.

    Communication is important. ProZ is an environment where communication is often hindered, thus my impatient tone there on occasion. One of the reasons i am so fond of Kilgray is the team's commitment to effective communication with their customers. The hiring of Denis Hay in France is further strong evidence of this; I'm sure you're at least a little aware of the enormous (unpaid) personal effort Denis made in the past as a user of Déjà Vu and memoQ and translation tools in general, creating macros and other aids for people like you and me and providing support to the community. Imagine what he might accomplish as a member of staff in a company that share his philosophy. And Angelika Zerfass (an outside consultant/trainer) and Claudia Fricke are now part of that competent support team. If you had asked me to write a short list of people in Germany to hellp establish a product in that market and support it well, these ladies would have been at the very top of the list. I saw them both at a tekom conference nine years ago, was completely impressed and have followed their activities since then, observing an admirable consistency in professionalism and support with a very human touch.

    So really, it would be very hard not to be optimistic when I see teams like that being assembled and know that the competition will to some extent follow suit and adopt some of the same positive practices. Ultimately I don't care whose customer you are, but I want you to be treated fairly and I want to work together with you on projects without the stupid technology getting in the way.


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