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Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The scribes at this ICANN meeting are amazing. They are using steno keyboards to type what people are saying in realtime and it is being projected on a big screen. What is amazing is that they are typing in English, even when the speakers are speaking French. I wish I could pipe the text into the IRC channel. I wonder if there is a way to get the scribe text via jabber or something...

UPDATE: Someone noticed that the "jp" macro completes to "Jon Postel" so they can been seen quickly fixing it when the Japanese are speaking. ;-)

I talked to the scribes (is that the correct name for people who do this?) and I confirmed that jp completes to Jon Postel. ;-) A few more interesting facts. The two have their own custom dictionaries and they are different. They have a little PDA as a backup connected to the keyboards.


I had a chance to talk with them for a few minutes after the SESAC meeting in DC in September '03. The computer-backed stenotype is extensible; they each have custom strokes programmed for technical terms, the proper spellings of people's names, etc. They trade off frequently because it's super-tiring work (you can't let your mind wander, that's for sure). My understanding is that they fly the same couple of people around to do the stenography at all of their meetings.

Pretty impressive.

Related, Hansard the official report from the house of commons in England and how it works:

they're unbelievable. You'll notice that when someone starts speaking in french they quickly grab for their headsets. through the headset they're getting simultaneous translation in english. then when the speaker starts back in english, they fling the headset down and keep typing. dramatic stuff.

rs is right; it's been the same people at each meeting for a long time now.

Some years ago the London Telegraph published an article about the european translators - I tryed a search but I did not find it - but it must be a one-top of the mind scale!

sorry, I ment 'european parliment translators'

Hey Joi,
I have a question. Are there many reporters over there covering ICANN? It's interesting how little mention there is of the meeting ANYWHERE in the U.S. media... and furthermore, how little ICANN is being blogged about (other than by you and Susan Crawford), and nobody ever seems to blog about WISIS. You'd think bloggers would be passionately interested in the future of internet governance...


Rebecca M wrote @7:
You'd think bloggers would be passionately interested in the future of internet governance...
I suspect it's a bit like with the utilities' networks. Once electricity, gas or water are supplied within a reasonably competitive market framework, with product quality standards considered to be good enough, then the locus of interest shifts elsewhere.

Of course, domain name registration and IP address allocation policies *are* important. On the Internet, however, as in most technology domains, the value added has moved higher up in the chain. A printing press is interesting, but the real value added today is in the content that is printed, not in the actual physical medium. A CD or DVD is very cool technology, but again the value is not in the media, but rather in the music or the movie. The technology behind a semiconductor process fab capable of sub-90nm engraving is interesting, but the actual microprocessors made in that fab produced yield more economic value added. A decade ago, a network could be dubbed "value added" (VAN) just by virtue of being a routed IP network. Today, IP routing is considered a given, and as long as a network layer's performance, availability, reliability and security meet acceptable levels, the service is considered to, or effectively becomes invisible.

It thus seems normal, once basic network functions are assumed to be available, for bloggers to focus on *what* can be done, and how can value be created and how e.g. legal frameworks or industry dynamics might affect that value creation process. The value creation layer encompasses e.g. e-mail, e-business, electronic markets, national and cross-border e-payments, on-line publishing and advertising, unsolicited commercial mailings, pornography, the mobile Internet, discussions about food or movies, or even blogging... :-)

As far as I know, there are very few reporters. I agree with MV above about WHY people aren't interested, but I think it's misguided since there is a lot at stake that affects every layer of the Internet being discussed here and at WSIS.

"there is a lot at stake that affects every layer of the Internet being discussed here and at WSIS."

Well, since there is going to be little mainstrem reporting of this, we'll be relying on you and Susan to keep us informed!!

Not to put pressure on you or anything... ;-)

Ha. Susan's doing a much better job. I'm still trying to find my way. Once I have opinions, I will start writing more...

Conferences should include scribes. I know it'd benefit me tremendously.

I believe the proper term for these people is 'stenographer'. At least that's what its called in a courtroom. Scribe sounds like someone sitting at a piece of parchment with a quill pen, laboring by candle light.

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Joi Ito shows a photo of a screen showing the output from steno machines. However, the ‘scribes’ are said to be hearing French and typing English - just what many clients think translators do when they work! But in the... Read More