Sunday, February 20, 2005

How the Internet and Google have changed the way we work

I was a full time free lance translators until ten years ago, then came my stint at J.D. Edwards, and now since last January I'm back working full time as a translator.

Yet, how changed is our profession, even in such a short span of time: there was already the Internet, and on-line fora where already active (I used to visit FLEFO regularly... it is still there, languishing with what's left of CompuServe) - but we still relied most of all on paper dictionaries, and on glossaries painstakingly compiled over the years, on paper resources of one type or another.

Now most of the time the information that I need I can find online: documents on all type of machinery, too many online glossaries to count, search engine that permit to verify our guesses with a few keystrokes.

Whole new techniques have evolved to find information on line, such as the way that by searching for the common name of some animal or plant plus the string "scientific name", we can most of the time use Latin, again, as the "universal translator", (albeit in a limited domain).

Still, we can drown in all this information, if we do not learn how to filter it, how to decide whether the page we have found with, seemingly, that hard to translate word we were looking for, is reliable or not.

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