The meeting on technical tools had two distinct segments, one on Babels and one on ALIS.

Babels tools

The tools we are already using to facilitate communication within the network can be categorised in different ways. Two different categorisations were mentioned.

Long-term vs shor-term:

The email lists which are created to organise an event can be considered a short-term tool. They disappear not long after the event is over, and although their content is archived it is of limited interest in brute form. Email lists also have limited participation (although there are discussion lists open to everyone, not many people choose to sign up). This is why for decisive discussion on the nature and objectives of the network itself the forum is preferable. The discussions there are always accesible and can be carried out over unlimited periods of time.

Consensuated vs personal:

The Babels website is a space where groups of Babels coordinators working on a certain project can publish information or reports on their project. It is therefore not a space for publishing ideas or opinions, but texts consensuated among an identified group of people in the name of a certain project. The online forum is the appropriate tool for personal contributions.


The main technical asset of Babels is the members database. It is used to store information on babels members (contact information, linguistic capacities, experience with Babels and membership to mailing lists), and to manage project-related mailing lists. For security reasons only a very small number of people, namely the components of "babels-tech", have full access to the database. Babels-tech grants access to project coordinators or carries out tasks requested by them according to agreed rules set out in the Babels Protocols.


It was pointed out that the use of the database, website, forum, wiki and chat can represent a not inconsiderable technical hurdle for a member of the network to become involved in coordinating an event. It is difficult to envisage organising a large-scale event without the use of these tools, and therefore babels-tech takes on the task of not only managing and maintaining these, but of creating adequate documentation for them and providing personal instruction to project coordinators when they request it. As babels-tech is currently too small a team to take on all these tasks, it is proposed to augment it to 5-7 people.

Among the ideas for a more comprehensive documentation of the tools is an automatic FAQ system and screen casts of the tools in use.

Translation tool

The Transtrad project has enormous potential, but the way it has been managed until now has proved inefficient. A new tool is proposed to manage translation in the network. This is a web-based tool. Texts to be translated are uploaded to a website, and the pool of translators can access all texts directly and choose on which to work. Each text includes a workflow status marker, indicating whether it is to be translated, partially translated, finished or proofread. Translators can browse the language materials for texts or can be emailed updates on which texts are nearing deadline, which are new on the site etc.

The tool is already functional, and now needs to be tested by a few users who can give feedback on usability.

ALIS tools

The ALternative Interpretation System has proved to work flawlessly at the ESF in Athens. There was some discussion on the reasons for this success, and it was pointed out that early and full support for the project by the Greek Organising Committee was essential. ALIS was present in the OC from the beginning, and this undoubtedly had much to do with the system's success. This is a positive lesson which must not be unlearnt.

To reproduce this success in Nairobi 2007 it is necessary, therefore, that ALIS be present in the Nairobi OC from the beginning. That training of local volunteers begin early, so that the transfer not only of equipment but of knowledge can be carried out in time to guarantee another success.

Recording tool

The recording, archiving and streaming tool is already operational. It has great potential for several other projects, the Memory project being the most obvious. The tool also permits a new interpretation to be added to a recording after the fact, meaning that languages which were not present at the Forum can still be used to diffuse materials. These recordings can also be made available for "sit-prep".

External Tools
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