Have you ever had the opportunity to meet someone who has a lot to say about things that interest you very much, but who does not particularly well master your best language. What happens? Well, it depends on your personality type. Many people, perhaps most of us, would probably find it just too uncomfortable to try a real conversation, so after a bit of time either move respectfully into a mutual silence or venture to make a simple point from time to time on the grounds that this is about the best you can do.
To make the contents of World Streets more broadly accessible to friends and colleagues who work primarily in other language groups, we have linked the site to the increasingly well-performing Google machine translation engines that you will now find here. In each case all you have to do is click the language in which you wish to see the rough translation, and it will quickly appear on your monitor. But that, dear reader, is just the beginning of the story.
World Streets has four main functions: (a) It is a specialized daily journal. (b) A collaborative international network. (c) An in-depth international resource. And finally (d) an active lobby for sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives, supporting projects and programs all over the world. Here we introduce the resource/research function which, as you will see, provides exceptionally deep and broad coverage of the sector from a truly international perspective.
Please start here:
We cordially invite you to give this a careful read the first time you come to this site, because this is your key to getting full value from this carefully constructed toolset.
The resource base and toolset introduced here has been specifically pieced together with our readers and their needs in mind. Our readers come from many different parts of the world, with often very different cultures and historical endowments, and levels of available resources for dealing with all these issues that vary hugely. What they have in common is that overwhelmingly they either work with cities or public agencies concerned with matters of transportation, environment, city development, land use, public health, etc., or are activists or researchers, professors or students, operators or regulators, consultants or concerned citizens. Or are representatives of the media, new and old.
These are the kinds of people and institutions who we have set out to serve.
How to make best use of the site and toolset:
The blog itself is divided into two main sections. The one that most people are immediately aware of and turn their eye to is the larger central column which presents the main content of the daily newspaper. That is our intention.
However, day after day, month after month the sheer quantity of articles and commentaries that appear here tend to gradually enter into something which is analogous to a close drawer on your desk. It is there, it is maybe important for you at some point, but how to get at it when you need it? That is the second part of our challenge.
So to this end, we will focus here entirely on the smaller column just to your left here, the “rest of the iceberg” if you will. This turns out to be a bit more complicated and is worth introducing carefully so that you can get best use of it. We are confident that the time you invest to familiarize yourself initially with this extensive tool set will be well compensated.
Let us start by simply listing the main headings/categories. that constitute the resource base. And then once you have a quick look at the overall collection we can then examine each in turn and in more detail.
Here is the overall listing as it stands at this date:
1. First time visitor ABC’s
2. World Streets in World Languages
3. Search World Streets: 2009/2010
4. The latest from World Streets
5. Featured series for (month)
6. Featured video clips for (month)
7. Latest news from the world’s streets (Headlines and links)
8. Editorial/volunteer team
9. New Mobility building blocks
10. Subscribe, support World Streets 2010
11. Free daily delivery: RSS
12. New Mobility combined search engine
13. World Streets weekly archives
14. Search all key sources (See below)s
15. Key sources, links, and blogs
16. World Streets sentinels
17. World Streets correspondents
18. In Memoriam
19. They are talking about . . .
20. (Some draft sections)
Now going into more detail:
It is our hope that the entire process will be sufficiently well labeled and logical that most of our readers will simply be able to click through them to see where they lead. But we thought it might be useful as well if we supply some more detailed indications, which is what we shall now do, taking each in the indicated order.
A. Start here / The Brief- This 4 page/4 minute introduction is proposed is must reading if the readers to understand fundamentally what this initiative is all about. It is a fast read, quickly setting out the main defining points and characteristics of World Streets, and the New Mobility Agenda just behind it.
B. New Mobility / The Strategy – Plan A: Goals, strategy, building blocks. Once again we propose this as an essential read for the first time reader, since it sets out the basic issues and political philosophy that underlie entire approach and selection of the journal. This is not just any collection of “interesting articles” that involve issues of transport in and around cities. It is about sustainable transportation quite strictly defined. Please read.
C. World Streets / The Resource (this page)
D. Expert views / The reaction — 101 readers report their critical views on World Streets. Replaces here because we believe it provides important perspective from readers with high expertise in many areas and for many parts of the world. As editors we can tell you how good we think we are all day long, but these words from entirely independent people provide you with something you can count on.
E. Implementation / Now what: — contribute, subscribe, support, get involved in making World Streets of success. This is for us an extremely important section, though life being what it is and timing as short as it is, we have to keep in mind that many readers will be too busy to give this their attention. We hope you will, because your collaboration is part of what is needed to make this collaborative venture work. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
2. WORLD STREETS IN WORLD LANGUAGES
This is tricky, but very important. It is easy to have prejudices on this in terms of the violence of the translations can do to your language; but be patient, there is more to it than that. There is a language reality out there of which many people working in the field internationally are not necessarily aware. And that is that the bulk of the people on this planet who are involved in transportation policy and practice in any given place where English is not the primary language, simply do not have the time to devote to reading articles, even summaries of articles, that are in something other than their main working language. That is a reality. But since World Streets has the pretension of being a truly worldwide cross-cultural source, we have tried to figure out how to make some kind of inroads into this seemingly intractable problem. With that in mind and making use of this borrowed toolset, from our very first day of publication we have tried to take advantage of best available technology in order to provide workable translations for the roughly 6,000,000,000 people on this planet for whom English is not their main working language. For more on this, have a look at http://tinyurl.com/ws-languages .
3. SEARCH WORLD STREETS: 2009/2010
Remember our analogy that the past content of World streets runs the risk of being equivalents of potentially interesting papers and reports that are caught in a closed-door of your desk? As an example as of March 2010 have been more than 500 articles and commentaries published in the course of the first year. But these are not just articles were given day, but potential resources. This search function scans via your selection of keywords the entire contents of World Streets from its inception. The same familiar approach as for Google. Try when you need it and we think you will not be disappointed. (In other parts of this resource section you will see additional Combined Search Engines which we have created to scan the contents of hundreds of related sources worldwide. You will see more on that below.)
4. THE LATEST FROM WORLD STREETS .
This tool sets out two searches, the first of which calls up the latest articles appearing in the journal with the most recent up top, while the second is the same for your comments.
5. FEATURED SERIES FOR (MONTH)
The items under this heading vary from month to month depending on the goals and orientation of the overall program in that period. In all cases however they are standardized to the extent that the first item calls up the World Streets Monthly Report for the last full month, while the last item — Check out (month’s) featured clips — provides an introduction to the selected video clips for the month, which appear immediately below and are directly clickable.
6. FEATURED VIDEO CLIPS FOR (MONTH)
because we live in a multimedia world, and because in order to advance the sustainable transportation agenda we have to take advantage of every tool at our disposal, this section presents each month a selection of short videos which we propose for viewing, perhaps during your coffee break. As you can imagine, we give careful thought to the selection.
7. LATEST NEWS FROM THE WORLD’S STREETS (HEADLINES AND LINKS
In the big and varied world in which we live the concept of creative linking is a very important one. On the other hand we must be extremely careful since, given the enormous wealth and great facility of making these contacts, you can always end up connecting to everything, and then at the end of the day have no time to do your own work. So in this case what we decided to do is to select a total of a dozen sources of news, generating for the most part daily news, which treat in various ways the main issues to which World Streets is dedicated. (Not necessarily reflecting our views and priorities but working energetically to make these issues and trade-offs better known.
The idea is that our readers will be able to run down that list in a minute or two, and then if they spot something that appears to be possibly relevant for their work, all they have to do is click to it and the original source will be at their service. And if you wish to see more from that source, you can also find them listed in the “Key Sources” section just below. There is considerable variety in the range and tgype of sources selected here, but that is as it must be in a world in which issues are complex and the answers are sure to be surprising. Let us use our peripheral vision to make sure we are not missing anything important.
8. EDITORIAL/VOLUNTEER TEAM
This short section introduces the team of volunteers who are cooperating to lead and support this independent and until now largely unfunded effort in support of sustainable transport worldwide. The second part of this listing provides information such as guidelines for contributors, comments on fair use, and a rough shopping list setting out some of the technical and other innovations and competences that we would hope to build and program without too much delay.
9. NEW MOBILITY BUILDING BLOCKS
-> Marquee: This running display has been set up in order to give someone who is sufficiently curious a review of the way that we view the main components and delivery modes that together constitute the New Mobility Agenda. Admittedly it is almost impossible to read in its present form, but the content is important and will be the subject of articles and clarification in the near future. The bottom line point is this: the future of transport and cities is not a question of cars used in the old way and/or public transit is delivered in the old way. There is a lot more to it than that, which indeed is what World Streets is all about. To continue.
-> Behind World Streets: the New Mobility Agenda: world streets is basically the unified publishing arm of the New Mobility Agenda, whose numerous programs, libraries, message services, and links feed into the Journal and provide it with much of its backing and content.
-> Knoogle search > 800 selected world sources: Knoogle is the Combined Search Engine and specialized knowledge browser that we initiated in 2008 and have subsequently continued to develop it into a search tool which provides access to a very large number of carefully selected sources dealing with sustainable transportation and sustainable cities worldwide.
-> Meet the World Streets Sentinels: The “sentinels” are colleagues working in this field around the world who have agreed to share with us their findings and observations within their cities and countries. (This program is and will continue to be under development.)
-> Read Nuova Mobilità: Nuova Mobilità is our sister publication, the first in what we hope will develop into a series of affiliated projects aiming to provide useful materials on our topic to professionals and others working in that country and language group. The site is in Italian, however on the upper left you will see there is the possibility of into English or other language of your choice. We invite you to drop in and have a look from time to time to see how our Italian sisters and brothers look at the challenges of sustainable transportation.
10. SUBSCRIBE, SUPPORT WORLD STREETS 2010
This section invites our readers to be part of the solution and to join in to support this collaborative program through financial contributions, their willingness to work with us to find sponsors, their availability for writing articles and other forms of technical support, and in general joining in this international collaborative effort. The very important part of this concerns are invitation for readers who share our values to set forth in order to work with us as ambassadors in order to help us intensify and contact organizations known to them, and in particular within their own countries, for future collaboration and exchange.
12. NEW MOBILITY COMBINED SEARCH ENGINE
Just before we get to the Journal’s archives, which organized by week and year, we thought it would be useful to place another search engine which gives the reader the choice of looking through those archives directory, clicking on yet more general look through the very large number of sources that are covered by our Knoogle knowledge browser. Or more generally the full Web.
13. WORLD STREETS WEEKLY ARCHIVES
Every week somewhere between five and seven new articles are posted, and these archives are intended to be handy to check out daily postings going all the way back to the first edition in March 2009. In most cases when one is referencing anything more than a week or two back, unless you know the approximate date, probably the best way to locate the items you are looking for is via the preceding search engine. Another excellent possibility is to use the key word items that are associated with each article.
14. SEARCH ALL KEY SOURCES (SEE LISTING JUST BELOW)
Yet another search engine, this time aiming at the more than 200 carefully selected sources that are listed just below. So put in other words, if you are curious as to what this collection of outstanding sources as to say on any given subject, you have a very simple tool here in order to carry out your research.
15. KEY SOURCES, LINKS, AND BLOGS
This is a potential gold mine for researchers. We give great importance to this collection of sources and are continuously soliciting our readers to review them and suggest further additions, or if they feel the source is not up to the standard to be dropped from the listing. At the time this page was prepared there were some 204 sources identified on that list, all available with a single click. And all fully searchable through the preceding customized search engine.
16. WORLD STREETS SENTINELS
This world map identifies the first one hundred-plus people working in more than forty countries on all continents who have stepped forward with offers to share with all interested latest information and clues from their cities, good news and bad news that has perhaps lessons for others. This listing is continually in process, and recommendations for qualified people are much appreciated. (For more, click here – http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/03/world-streets-correspondents.html )
19. THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT . . .
this is not a particularly sophisticated collection of links, but we at least find some use in reviewing them from time to time to get a better feel for the extent to which World streets, Nuova Mobilità and the New Mobility Agenda are being referenced or in the news.
# # #
I have to admit it. This has been a long slog, for us to write and you to read. But that is exactly what sustainability is all about: new mental architecture, carefully thought-out philosophy, breadth of vision, consistent criteria, great energy, unremitting discipline, deep collaboration, and an ability to hang in there for the long slog. This is not a job for lazy people. :-)
Editor, World Streets
Some of us who have been working internationally on the tough challenges of sustainable transportation and sustainable cities have for some years made best possible use of machine translation tools as available on the web. For years this has required a heroic combination of great interest, enormous patience and some linguistic ingenuity to figure out what the contents of the original x-language piece might actually be saying. But when one is curious and deeply interested, one perseveres and with a bit of luck is able to figure out something if not all of what the whole thing is supposed to be all about.
(For example, you doubtless recognized that the Icelandic language title to this article reads easily in English as “Read this article in Icelandic”. Of course you did.)
Fortunately, life has become considerably easier over the last year or two, as the best of the free translation services have made giant steps in terms of quality and usefulness. To this end we have worked over the course of the last decade pretty consistently with the increasingly satisfactory Babelfish/Yahoo engine at http://babelfish.yahoo.com/ and more recently with the Google translate tool which you can find at http://translate.google.com.
When we started publication of World Streets in March of last year, we decided from the beginning and for a variety of reasons which have to do above all with our readers’ requirements and interests to do our best to create seamless “other language” access to the contents of our new worldwide daily sustainability journal. If you have not yet had an opportunity to check our initial position on this, let me invite you to have a look at http://tinyurl.com/ws-languages
Today the front page of the International Herald Tribune carries an article on recent developments in machine translations which you might like to have a look at. You will find it posted at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/technology/09translate.html?ref=technology . (If for some reason you are not able to get the full text from that address, drop us an e-mail to editor@Worldstreets.org and we will send you a copy.)
In closing, let us take a look at what might be a worst-case, flip-flop translation. Our point of departure is here, the last sentence in the IHT article.
Mr. Och acknowledged that Google’s translation system still needed improvement, but he said it was getting better fast. “The current quality improvement curve is still pretty steep,” he said.
And this is how it looks when we translate it first into Icelandic, and then the Icelandic text back into English. (In principle, if the past is any guide, this should not look very sharp. Let’s see.)
The Icelandic test run:
Mr. Och admit that Google translation system is still in need of reform, but he said it would get better quickly. “The current quality improvement curve is still pretty steep,” he said.
Hmmm. Now that is, you have to admit, pretty reassuring. Let us see if we can try a tougher test moving through a non-European language of fundamentally much different construction, say traditional Chinese. Here is what we get after our Google round-trip on this:
The Chinese test result:
Austrian district, admitted that Google’s translation system still needs to be improved, but he said it was getting better and better faster. “The current quality improvement curve is still quite steep,” he said.
Still, “Austrian district” and all Google’s machine has handed us a pretty good understanding of what Mr. Och had to say.
Now what about Haitian Creole: (Noting that this still an alpha version)?
Ok men acknowledged that Google’s translation system still needs improvement, but he said it was faster. “Curve current improvement is still beautiful cliff,” he said.
Ok men, with three simple tests now behind us, what can we venture to say about machine translation 2010 Google-style?
It is a tool, it works, it is not perfect.
But if you need it and you are ready to supplement it with your good sense and knowledge of context, it would be foolish not to use it when the occasion presents itself. (On the other hand, be prepared to have your that-language colleagues bellyache that the translated version in their language is not strictly idiomatic and further that it is, we have been told, “ugly as sin”. Ugly perhaps, but not all of our best friends are necessarily all that pretty.)
Thanks Google. And to all of the rest of you in this competitive sector who are going to respond with improvements of your own, thanks too.
From the outset in late 2008, we were aware that the reach of World Streets into the field was going to be constrained by the problem of language. For if in countries in which English is not a main working language there are always a certain number of people who are comfortable dealing with text in English, this is not the case for the greater number of those who work at the local level with the issues. So we knew we were going to need another approach to reach these people. Our first test case to show how it is possible to work competently in another language was Italy, leading to a global/local partnership and the creation of a new journal covering sustainable transport in Italian: Nuova Mobilità.
Summary: Working with machine translations:
How to use, limitations, work-arounds: To make the contents of World Streets more broadly accessible to friends and colleagues who work primarily in other language groups, we have linked the site to the increasingly well-performing Google machine translation engines that you will now find here. In each case all you have to do is click the language in which you wish to see the rough translation, and it will quickly appear on your monitor.
If you read the translation in parallel with the English-language original in front of you, you will in almost all cases be able to arrive at a pretty fair understanding of the thrust and main content of that particular article or announcement. The result is not literature; it is a rough and ready working tool for someone who needs to know. It works better in some languages than others. In any event it is not a substitute for a professional translation, but by contrast it can be in your hands in seconds, and can be extremely helpful for those who are ready to make an effort to use it with judgment. Some people will use it when they need it, others will complain and set it aside. That is for you to choose. (We use it and use it every day. And always with caution.)
Start here: What’s wrong with English for World Streets?
Actually working in English gives us a great start — various statistics indicate that it is the first language of going on to four hundred million people, and if you include second language speakers the number moves up to something on the order of half a billion. That is five hundred million people who can, one would hope, pick up and read daily articles in World Streets with ease. That is a big number.
On the other hand it leaves out on the order of six billion people organize their daily lives around other languages, and since it is our chosen mission to create and reinforce networks of people at various levels of government and participation in public life around the world in matters of sustainable transport, we would be remiss in our function if we neglected this important fact. With this in mind, we have from the beginning of publication continuously brainstormed with anyone who cared to join us on the matter of how to get the contents of World Streets, and with it the leading edge of worldwide developments and thinking in the field of sustainable transportation, into the hands of the people who are working in countries in cities around the world where working language is other than English.
As a result of these exchanges we decided not to continue to chat and plan, but rather to start with full scale real time public demonstration showing how it is possible to create an Italian-language edition carefully adapted to the needs and interests of Italian readers working with or following developments in this area. It took more than three months to plan, but by 1 July 2009 the first issue of Nuova Mobilità was ready to go on line on.
What happened? “Executive summary in two quick images”:
Thinking that your time might be short today, let’s start at the end, showing you what happened in one country, Italy, when we developed a collaborative version of World Streets with skilled and committed local partners. Two pictures will serve for a thousand words.
The first of these is a map from our files showing the last eighty people to come into World Streets in late June, a few days before we started publication of the first number of Nuova Mobilità. You will note that despite the impressive worldwide coverage (extending to more than seventy countries on all continents), there were on that day zero entries coming in from Italian cities. Zero!
And now, half a year after start-up if we next look at the map showing the last eighty entries into Nuova Mobilità in the last 24 hours, an entirely different picture emerges.
Listing of Italian cities checking in
This listing of cities will be of more interest to our Italian readers than most of us surely, but what may interest them about it is that these 74 cities are listed in the order of the frequency with which readers have some into N/M.
Rome, Milan, Turin, Palermo, Cocquio Trevisago, Molfetta, Bologna, Verona, Padova, Azzano Decimo, Crotone, Ferrara, Potenza, Bergamo, Brescia, Torino, Pesaro, Genoa, Naples, Cagliari, Trieste, Novara, Catania, Piacenza, Treviso, Caserta, San Vero Milis, Manduria, Parma, Modena, San Martino Siccomario, Corato, Teramo, Favaro Veneto, Monserrato, Grùmolo, San Cesario Di Lecce, Giugliano In Campania, Montichiari, Solaro, Bresso, Ciserano, Lecce, Bari, Florence, Quartucciu, Castelnuovo, Rosarno, Brivio, Pisa, Santeramo In Colle, Pontinia, Cormano, Pescara, Catanzaro, Sannicandro Di Bari, San Donato Milanese, Trebaseleghe, San Severino Marche, Abano Terme, Nocera Inferiore, Medole, Varese, Galliera Veneta, Quartu Sant’elena, Leghorn, Limbiate, Capodrise, Turriaco, Cesena, Origgio, Incisa, Monza, Stezzano.
What is the expression: build it and they will come? Apparently this holds for more than building more roads. We need to do more of this kind of building.
Implications for other countries and other language editions
The lessons of this successful joint are perfectly clear. What we have seen works in a country like Italy can also be at least tested and most probably would, with the right kind of collaboration, work in other parts of the world as well. In fact we think this is extremely important and intend to make this one of the strong collaborative development pushes of World Streets over 2010.
We are at this time in early discussion with colleagues in a handful of countries with a view to examining this template and seeing how it might be put to work to provide high-quality coverage in other countries and language groups. Here are our priority targets:
We have yet to define a working agreement and operations plan with any of these eventual future partners, but as soon as we do please be sure that our readers will be the first to be informed. If you wish to have a more detailed idea as to the process and the reasoning behind these collaborative projects, we invite you to read on to see how all this was handled in the case of Italy and” Nuova Mobilità – Il Diario Italiano del Trasporto Sostenibile”.
Building Nuova Mobilità.
The reasons for giving this collaborative Italian project early priority were three-fold:
(a) Potential: Its potential to fill a gap as a trusted neutral Italian language source with one-click links to information and perspective on the full range of leading new mobility developments worldwide.
(b) Partners: Our good fortune in finding an Italian team willing to work with us on a volunteer basis for the half year or so it is going to take to get it off the ground.
(c) Prof of concept: And finally the way in which we hoped that, in time and with work, the Italian project would develop into a first-cut technical and organizational template ready to aid other language/country versions to follow in 2010 and beyond.
1. “New Mobility” for Italian readers
Italy provides an interesting and in many ways quite typical example of how the diverse strands that we call sustainable transport or new mobility are (or are not) being woven together to create better transport and better cities within a country or language area. Now as you can see in the pages of N/M, the new mobility concept is in fact gradually taking hold in Italy, but it is still very much in a minority position, and when implemented for the most part occurs on a project by project basis — and only here and there with a broader unifying strategy. On this last score there is still plenty of room for progress. (But to be perfectly frank, there are few places in the world which have thus far really started to put all the pieces together.)
Italy had a strong claim for immediate treatment on the grounds that we had the good fortune to have already collaborated there successfully with Italian colleagues led by Enrico Bonfatti who showed up fully bilingual, understanding the underlying concepts and ready to get to work on them. Over the two months-plus we have worked with them day by day to lay a base for our collaborative project, we communicated by phone, email, Skype and videoconference on almost a daily basis, and often multiple times each day. (And this was certainly a low-carbon approach since at no time did any of us actually get on a plane or train to get the job done. Today’s technologies were and are fully up to the job. And we suggest that this lesson can also usefully inform future collaborative projects.
The first World Streets’ spin-off, Nuova Mobilità, which you can now visit, work with and profit from is online at http://nuovamobilita.org/
2. Nuova Mobilità has two functions within Italy:
Window on sustainable transport in the world:
First, to provide a window on the world of new mobility for those Italian readers who are more comfortable working in their own language. To do this, the editorial team selects daily articles from World Streets and other sources which they feel will be of particular interest to the Italian reader. They then both translate and adapt them for the Italian context, with adjustments and contextual information to make them more informative for the Italian reader in search of new ideas, leads and approaches.
Window on sustainable transport in Italy:
But Nuova Mobilità also has an important “internal” function within Italy as well, namely that of providing a central information and exchange point for outstanding projects and programs, and problems and barriers inhibiting change, that are going on in various cities and parts of the peninsula. There are a number of programs and web sites already active in the sector in various places, but most of these focus on a specific problem or approach — for example cycling, public transport, carsharing, school transport, climate issues, environmental concerns more generally, for specific cities, etc.– Nuova Mobilità can serve as a valuable clearing house function, with its global/local orientation.
Like World Streets, Nuova Mobilità retains complete independence in terms of editorial content and the views expressed. Moreover, the program is informed by a consistent set of guiding principles which you will find spelled out in the Mission Statement.
3. Nuova Mobilità: Template for future country/language editions:
One of the main potential contributions of Nuova Mobilità is that it is put before you not as a plan or a promise, but as an operational working entity already in place and there to serve as a pioneer and concrete example for other country/language editions. Of course it can be improved in many ways, including technically, and that is part of the task of both the Italian team and the collaborators at World Streets. But Nuova Mobilità exists, it is there, it works, and it is already in place to perform valuable functions.
It is our view that despite the enormous reach of the internet and the availability of ever-better (and free) machine translation services, native language coverage is needed by many people in many places. The reality is that it is not all that easy reading every day in a second or third language. Most of us do best working in our mother tongue. The task of full and rapid comprehension of a fair body of materials that come in day after day, already difficult enough for most topics, becomes even more challenging in a new area such as this which continuously brings in many new, less familiar concepts, and along with them a new and fast-evolving vocabulary, thus adding yet another level of complexity to the challenge of understanding what is really going on.
Thus it is our firm intention to find other language/country partners to work with them to build on the Italian example which can be exported in its entirety to serve as a sort of first-stage template for future language/country editions.
To this end, we are already in preliminary discussion with eventual Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, French and German language partners the possibility of building on this example with new dedicated websites and supporting programs in the months ahead. But the list of countries and languages of course need not end there. Nor should it.
# # #
Working with machine translations: How to use, limitations, work-arounds
To make the contents of World Streets more broadly accessible to friends and colleagues who work primarily in other language groups, we have linked the site to the increasingly well-performing Google machine translation engines that you will now find here. In each case all you have to do is click the language in which you wish to see the rough translation, and it will quickly appear on your monitor.
If you read the translation in parallel with the English-language original in front of you, you will in almost all cases be able to arrive at a pretty fair understanding of the thrust and main content of that particular article or announcement. It is of course not a substitute for a professional translation, but it can be extremely helpful for those who are ready to make an effort to use it with judgment.
# # #
For more information on Nuova Mobilità:
Contact: Enrico Bonfatti, Editor. email@example.com
Nuova Mobilità is at http://nuovamobilita.org
Click here to read Nuova Mobilità in English (machine translation)
What better way to announce a short break than to quote word for word from today’s posting of our Italian friends over at Nuova Mobilità, announcing that they’ll be back in the saddle on the 4th of January. A well deserved rest after six months of daily publication, five days a week. (Sound familiar?) Now let’s give the word to them:
Questo post solo per comunicarvi che dopo 6 mesi di quotidiano e pervicace monitoraggio sui temi della Nuova Mobilità abbiamo bisogno di qualche giorno di riposo. Ritorneremo on line il 4 gennaio 2010.
Buon Natale e buon anno a tutti.
I am sure you got that, but just in case: “This post is just to inform you that after 6 months of daily monitoring and stubborn publication on the New Mobility scene, we are taking a few days of rest. Back on line January 4, 2010.”
Read Nuova Mobilità at http://nuovamobilita.org
And if it’s not clear, clich http://tinyurl.com/nm-english for a pretty fair machine translation into English.
World Streets is strongly committed to working with all those concerned in China to advancing the sustainable transportation agenda in their cities and surrounding regions. What a wonderful challenge for international collaboration and exchange on our topic, and it strikes us that this is an excellent occasion to initiate and deepen this collaboration. An important event can lead the way. Let’s look at this together.
The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China falls on Oct. 1, barely two weeks away. World Streets wants to be there to celebrate this important event and to become a useful partner for sustainable transportation and sustainable cities in China for the many years ahead.
For various technical reasons, World Streets is not able at present to share our information and leads with our Chinese colleagues. So, to find our way into this new partnership out first step was to start by asking a few of our mainland Chinese friends by email, phone and Skype what they think. This we did and this is what they have told us:
For various internal reasons they told us some internet connections on the mainland are currently being filtered. Which means that it can happen that people in universities, home, internet cafes, and even government agencies are unable at present to access http://WorldStreets.org/.
This situation is not going to last forever; however, if we wish to be a good source of information and inspiration for our Chinese colleagues, we need to work our way around this.
Now there are work-arounds for this, namely sites ARE accessible via proxy sites or for those with access to VPNs (virtual private networks), but essentially this means either a few extra steps are needed to access the information. While this is useful for some for now, it is (a) only available to ‘net-savvy surfers. More than that however it is (b) a “back-door approach” which is hardly appropriate to the real, broad and deep collaboration and exchange that is appropriate in the face of the challenges ahead..
Now that we have a feel for what is going on, our next step has been to take a template from our New Mobility Agenda series (www.newmobility.org) and to see how we might quickly refit it to make at least a portion of our content available by other means. If you go to http://china.WorldStreets.org/ you will see how this looks so far.
The advantage as it stands is that it gives the reader a clue and short summaries of all the articles that are housed in our archives and current editions: but unfortunately for now, not the full text. Still, we have a start.
The permanent fix, we are advised, will be to approach the responsible regulatory agency, the Ministry of Information (see http://opennet.net/bulletins/011/#1), and register with them so that access to Streets will not longer be blocked. We are hopeful that some of our Chinese colleagues will work with us on this.
An option, we are advised, is to create a new .cn domain name and blog — but we hope this is to be avoided if possible since the job of uploading the hundreds of articles and tools housed in the present site to yet a new website is a formidable and time consuming task.
World Streets in China:
In closing, we might add that the steady progress that is being made of late in the quality of machine translations to and from Chinese and English has been very impressive. Our Chinese friends tell us that this is a handy way to find out at least the gist of any given article or piece, but there is of course nothing like a fine human translation. Still . . .
Our hope will be to do much better than this and to find Chinese partners in order to do with World Streets in China what we are presently accomplishing with our first non-English sustainable transport daily, Nuova Mobilità — http://nuovamobilita.org — for and with our Italian colleagues and in Italian. N/M is our working model or template for what we are hoping to do in other countries and languages. Because the simple reality is that if something is to get read every day by busy planners, agencies, local government, transport operators, researchers, activists and others concerned, the odds are that if it is not in their first working language it just will not get read.
Beyond this the Italian editors not only translate, but also adapt and provide context and commentary for the Italian reader on the articles they select for publication. And that is not all. The journal also functions as a turntable for swapping ideas articles and dialogues between planners and others concerned within Italy itself.
In short, the traffic is not at all one way. These are living streets.
And there you have our hopes for World Streets in China.
[Comments, corrections and refinements as always warmly welcome, You can leave them simply by clicking the Comment tag below.]
# # #
Curious to get an idea of the quality of the Chinese language translations? You may care to try the hardest translation test of all. Click to translate, say, this article into Chinese in Google Translate — http://translate.google.com/translate_t# — and then simply reverse the process and translate the Chinese text back into English. Again, this is a terrible text, but have a look and see if the machine works to the extent that you have some reasonable idea of the original. (And bear in mind please that this two-round process significantly magnifies what may be small glitches. But if you really want to know, if you are genuinely curious it can be a genuine help. At least it is to us and to a number of our bilingual Chinese colleagues.)