Multilingual meetings

As part of my official duties, I monitor the goings-on of the Fedora ambassadors in South America.

Which is tricky, since I speak neither Spanish or Portuguese. But it’s an incredibly valuable lesson in inclusion. As English speakers, we are accustomed to everyone else learning to speak *our* language. And that works, to an extent — but when you’re trying to get to know people, being able to communicate with their native language is a *tremendous* asset.

So I’m trying to learn both Spanish and Portuguese in my spare time. (Yeah, good luck with that, genius.)

But since it’s going to be a while before my Spanish and Portuguese are up to snuff, I think there is real, serious value in automatic translation tools. It’s very fashionable to laugh at the occasionally horrible results, but the fact is that 85% comprehension is a damned sight better than the 25% comprehension I’m going to get if left to my own devices.

I sat in on the meetings that Rodrigo Padula chaired last night — both the LATAM and the Brazilian meetings. Nearly three hours of awesome. Padula, all I can say is that you are a master of organization, and in two different languages, no less. Unfortunately, I found my enjoyment of the meetings was limited by my complete inability to actually participate, since I was spending all of my time wearing out Google translations just to follow the rapid conversation.

So I spent some time hacking together this little ditty. Warning: it’s kinda crap, but it’s also kinda awesome, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Go play with it. On freenode, join #gregdek-en, #gregdek-es, and #gregdek-pt. Then say something in English on #gregdek-en, and check out what happens on #gregdek-es and #gregdek-pt. Or say something on #gregdek-es and see what happens on #gregdek-en and #gregdek-pt.

Now imagine having our IRC meetings in #fedora-meeting-en, #fedora-meeting-es, #fedora-meeting-zh, #fedora-meeting-fr, and so on and so forth.

I think it could be pretty awesome. Let me know if you agree. With luck, people will find it valuable enough for me to hand it off to the Fedora Infrastructure folks.

(Of course, it’ll probably break the second anyone joins the channels, but hey, it’s a start, nothing more. What do you want for a six hour hack? Patches welcome.)

Multilingual meetings

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