Technical features ESF

Paris, St Denis, France: 12-15 novembre 2003
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2003 2:53 pm
Location: Pécs (Magyar Köztarsaság)

Technical features ESF

Postby Jairo » Thu Nov 20, 2003 4:01 pm

I do not like to start threads, but off we go

I think that the main technical problem at ESF was the terrible booth -let me call them buz or umbrella- conditions. I think it was quite hard, specially during the debates and during the question time to do a proper job 'half in there'.
I am pretty sure that those booth were necessary in small places -Le Trabendo, for instance- but I do not think they were so necessary in some other places were there was more space available.
Why were these booth accepted? Were they the only choice? Was there any other possibility?

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Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:37 pm

Table booths...

Postby lo » Thu Nov 20, 2003 5:13 pm

As I was more or less implicated in the relation with ISC (company that provided the equipment), I can try to explain you why it happened so :
When the format (4 booths per room / 50 rooms equiped) of the forum was decided at the european assemblies of preparation of bruxelles and berlin, we knew we would have to rent all the equipment, having no other solution for interpretation. The permanent employee in charge of logistic, the treasurer and I met ISC and presented them a draft of our needs (business interaction...gulp).

They sent us back a, few days after, a proposal including booths, headphones, mikes, consoles and some table booths free of charge (their argument to which the treasurer was sensible). we did not pay attention at the beginning that their number would be so important and, 1 month and a half before the ESF, when I was wandering in la villette with the ISC salesman (gosh) I understood he was not in capacity to deliver more than hundred and dust normal booths. I was a little bit anxious, especially after the previous recent experience of european assembly held in bobigny where this kind of booths was used and about which interpreters were really furious.

ISC told us 100 and dust normal booths was all they could provide on a european scale... tricky point.

Apart from the fact that renting thoses equipments to this company, reaching a monopoly status in europe, is something to avoid during next SF, booths are part of the deal of our participation within SF.

which makes me think that, even if we use our noma interpretation tool during next ESF, we never really thought about building booths... that's a project in itself :)



About the booths

Postby Guest » Sat Nov 22, 2003 8:51 pm

Hi all.
It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but I was so astonished by the lack of organizational and planning skills at Babels (can't tell about the ESF - I didn't even have a chance to check it out!) that I can't resist giving a few suggestions.
Maybe the Social Forum and Babels should start adopting some business-like approaches to business-like issues, like renting interpretation booths. Was ISC the only possible provider of booths in the whole of Europe? It's hard to believe. SF and Babels could have sent a business-like letter to all providers they could find, stating their needs, and asking for proposals (prices, available equipment etc). If one provider alone could not answer to the needs, then SF and Babels would choose the best price/best equipment options (say, two or three of them) and have them meet around a table to design a custom solution for the ESF...
That's what successful business conferences do. I can't think of a good reason not to employ business solutions to our problems. The more efficient we are, the better the work of the interpreters will be, the happier all interpreters will be, and the SFs will have much better results in terms of connections made and messages got accross.
Besides, as far as I know ISC should pay a penalty or something for its not being there doing its work in the morning of Nov 13th, at least in Ivry, where most rooms in the Pathé Theater did not even have the equipment installed at 9h30 in the morning or so... What did we do about that? Just forgot it?
But maybe I don't know what you went through before deciding by ISC. Would you tell me, Lô? I'm truly interested. And I sincerely want to help.


it's great, but...

Postby Guest » Sat Nov 22, 2003 8:55 pm

I forgot to say the new forum is just GREAT, guys!
But... Why is it posting my messages as a Guest's messages? Because I did not fill in the box "Username". And why didn't I fill it in? Because when I did, it replied "this username is already taken". Of course it is: it is my username!
Is that a bug? Or I still did not get how it works?
Leda :wink:

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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2003 1:35 pm

team management/ electronic tools

Postby yan » Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:14 am

The allocation of interpreters for each event (seminar, plenary, etc.) was managed apparently solely on paper. After a day or so, half of the names of interpreters on these papers were no longer valid (some interpreters were missing, had been sent elsewhere, had given up, were sick, etc.).
Isn't it possible to create a 'macro' under excel, or some similar computer gimmick, to centralize and rationalize team management for future events?
With NT tools such as excel macros, each interpreter's characteristics (languages, availability, etc.) could have been used to the full, global updates would have probably been easier, and access easier too (if you print out one planning, you can always print out more).

Posts: 173
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2003 9:36 am
Location: France

Technical mood

Postby ljesover » Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:38 pm

I do agree with the remarks. Especially on the needs to develop tools to help us. It is not that we didn't try... it is that we didn't succeed. Therefore chose to it simply but at least to have something. If any one knows php encoders, people that could understand the needs and help us: Welcome!

As for the booths... and others it seems that no one fully realize the scale we were in. To take the earphones: 30 000. It outnumbered (by far) the total available earphones available for rent in all Europe. ISC is a company (we are not) and was selected after a business type call. For the booths it was like for the earphones...

This ESF was of gigantic proportion. I will say even too much ! we succeed, yes we did for numbers (1000 interpreters in 21 languages) but with a much larger human cost than we thought. It was a bit like feching the mediterranean sea with a teaspoon.

To go back on technical stuff, we need to find tools in order to help. But tools mean also human to help to develop them and to manage them afterward... means also to help people to use them... A lot of work still.


technical problems at the ESF

Postby Brigitte » Fri Jan 02, 2004 6:06 pm

I really, really enjoyed participating and look forward to interpreting at future fora.

Some suggestions and comments:

I strongly believe that the absolute minimum working condition for an interpreter is a booth and if booths cannot all be sourced from one provider then more than one provider must be used. In order to work effectively, an interpreter needs to work with the headset over one ear only in order to hear him or herself as well as the speaker. The cardboard contraptions cut out no sound from the room: the result is that the interpreters literally cannot hear themselves think, the quality of their work suffers and they are exhausted by the end of the session. In a professional context I would refuse to do simultaneous without a booth. As a Babels volunteer who passionately supports the social fora I worked whereever and whenever I was needed but I felt torn. There are a lot of conferences organised by bad 'employers' who do not respect interpreters working needs and the ESF needs to take care with the example it sets.
Participants should not go home thinking that the day they need to hire an interpreter they need only provide the unfortunate individual with a cardboard box!

The consoles and headsets were very good.

No French booth. I completely understand why this decision was taken, but it did make life very complicated for the interpreters. Removing a booth only works well if there is one interpreter with a retour in each booth. Some "booth hopping" is inevitable in an event like this, but it is better to avoid a permanent state of musical chairs, if possible. The need to provide a constant flow of French without a French booth also led to a lot of confusion with the relay and not just amongst the volunteers who were least used to the equipment.
Concrete suggestion: provide a booth for the language of the host country.

Documents for the interpreters. Always difficult - delegates tend to be reluctant to send in their texts beforehand and it is often not possible to make copies in time on the day. And if, for logistical reasons, interpreters are assigned somewhere at the last minute it is impossible to get the documents to them anyway.
So why not ask each speaker to bring 5 (or however many booths there are) copies (a) to the babels office on the relevant site beforehand or (b) to the workshop or plenary for direct distribution to the interpreters?

In order to (possibly) get the hardpressed speaker to do this, Babels needs to emphasise how very much this is in the speaker's own interests and to provide some reassurance.
- many or even most people present will only understand what the interpreters get, so it makes sense for the speaker to enable the volunteer interpreter to do a good job.
- copies of speeches and slides will not be distributed to the audience and can be got back from the interpreters, if need be.
- giving a text to the interpreters does not mean that it has to be read out word for word and cannot be changed, in fact interpreters PREFER people to speak freely.

Finally, congratulations to the coordinators. The sheer scale of the event meant that problems were bound to crop up. You pulled off an incredible feat.

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