Translating Access to Data

Make a statement about the value of multilingual data!

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Many of our digital tools, the community websites and forums and data portals - even the dribdat app you are looking at now! - are single language, or have a lot of monolingual content. The technical community makes an effort to support languages on the "front end", i.e. web site content, but translation support is often missing in data sources and APIs. For example, it is often not possible to make a multilingual tweet or forum post. There is a multitude of ways data sources get translated. Can we benefit from the skill and experience of our communities more, especially in a country like .ch to tackle this question in the service of journalism? Do you have ideas about designing / installing / funding / automating / humanizing solutions to overcome this?

Suggested hackathon goals

  1. What do you see as the main barriers in overcoming linguistic adversity when it comes to data publication?
  2. Put the problem into human context: after all, people are authors of most datasets. How could we stimulate multilingual data collection?
  3. Are there any particular ways that multilingual open data initiatives could assist certain kinds of journalistic efforts?



The open data community both in Switzerland and internationally tries to overcome cultural and language barriers and support the needs of a diverse membership. The association pioneered multilingual, simultaneous hackathons, while is one of the world's few quadrilingual open data portals. This challenge is proposed by open data activist Oleg Lavrovsky, who gets by in a handful of languages but often regrets not speaking Italian, Romansch, or any of the many other tongues heard on our globalized streets.

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