Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Day: March 31, 2009

Second Life Gets an International Life: An Interview with Danica Brinton of Linden Lab

At the recent Worldware Conference in Santa Clara, California, I was delighted to learn about how a high-tech company was achieving great success in internationalizing their software through crowdsourcing. The story gets more interesting. This was not back-room software plumbing but an innovative application, none other than Second Life, a virtual world and a social-networking MMORG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game).  Launched by Linden Lab in 2003, Second Life enables its users, called residents, to interoperate with a virtual world  through software called a Second Life Viewer. Residents can socialize, participate in group activities, and create and trade virtual property.  According to Google, there are over 9 million residents currently on Second Life.

I attended the presentation, “Brave New (Virtual) World,” and had an opportunity to catch up with Danica Brinton, Director of International Strategies and Localization at Linden Lab.  Here’s what she had to say.

Kadie:  When did Linden Lab realize the importance of internationalization?

Brinton: Around the middle of 2008, Linden Lab realized some discrepancies between U.S. and international business.  While 60% of the residents and twice the new registrations were from outside the U.S., revenue and retention numbers, while still healthy, indicated a gap in the localized  user experience.

Kadie: What happened when you entered the scene?

Brinton: I joined the company in June.  When I checked things out, I was stunned.  I discovered that we were paying $40,000 per quarter to LSPs.  What were we getting?  The viewer was translated only partially into 3 languages, and was nearly incomprehensible.  The website was translated partially into 2 key languages.  In both cases there were a lot of localization bugs.  On the flip side, hundreds of wiki-based Help pages were translated quite well into 8 languages, which was pretty darn good.  An interesting trend…

Kadie: So what did you do?

Brinton: Although we were a small company, when I showed my management the opportunity they were very supportive…but with limited funding.  So we had to get creative.  We enlisted the help of power users to translate the application and website.  To ensure quality control, we set up a repeatable localization framework, with translation, editing, testing, and end user review.  We established a tier system of resident translators, drawing on our super-users.   We built and acquired localization tools to manage translation memories and the localization process, and installed a locale-based ROI calculator to manage costs.  Finally, we hired 3 in-house linguists.  So you can see, it was a hybrid of crowdsourcing from the Second Life community on the one hand, and our in-house linguists and contracted translation agencies on the other.

Kadie: How did you divide up the work?

Brinton:  Who did what depended on the language tier.  Let’s look at the viewer, for example.  For tier-1 languages, we developed the glossary, did the translation, and collaborated with the Second Life community on the editing, QA, and some of the glossary.  For tier-2 languages, the Second Life community did nearly everything.

Kadie: What kind of results did you achieve?

Brinton: Less than a year later, I can truthfully say that we achieved some dramatic results.  We now translate the viewer and the website into 10 languages, and expect to reach 16 in May.  The active residents from outside the U.S. grew to 64% of the user base, and new registrations are now more than 2.5 times the U.S.  Even better, international revenues have surpassed U.S. domestic revenues.  Between the Viewer, the website, and the knowledge base, we now regularly localize over 150,000 words per language.

Kadie: What’s next for localization at Linden Lab?

Brinton: Strangely enough, past is prologue.  This new localization program is helping to increase customer satisfaction and bolster an affinity group.  You can even say that community-driven translation is building brand advocacy.  Some of the elite power users are evolving into business partners.  Localization is not only supporting our business, it’s helping to grow it.

The Content Globalization practice at the Gilbane Group closely follows and  blogs on the role of multilingual communication in social networking (see interview with Plaxo).

EMC Announces Solutions for Case Management and Document Management

EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) announced two new enterprise content management (ECM) solutions: A new EMC Documentum Case Management Solution Framework, which accelerates the development of case management applications, and EMC Documentum ApplicationXtender 6 with new modules for workflow and retention management. Case management is a pattern of work commonly used in almost all industries, such as financial services, public sector and healthcare, that requires a group of people to systematically process and collaborate on a case folder that consists of both content and data. The Case Management Solution Framework enables system integrators and application partners as well as internal IT developers to build case management solutions faster. The Case Management Solution Framework includes: pre-integrated technologies utilizing the core capabilities of the EMC Documentum platform, a tutorial that illustrates the creation of  a case management solution, a case management sample application and other best practices covering, application development and deployment, and an Express Install tool which provides single-click installation of all the components needed for case management on a single server.

ApplicationXtender is a departmental document management solution for organizations with limited IT budgets and supporting resources. The solution provides out-of-the box capabilities that allow departments to manage content such as images, documents and reports. Built on a central repository, ApplicationXtender provides capabilities for high-speed image capture and storage and is designed for quick deployment. New features in ApplicationXtender 6 include: A Workflow Manager module for creating departmental workflow solutions designed to improve efficiency in business processes, built on Microsoft .NET, and: A Retention Manager module for applying automatic retention capabilities such as holds, reporting, disposals and audits trails to documents to ensure regulatory compliance. The Case Management Solution Framework and ApplicationXtender 6 are available now.

Vignette Releases Community Applications 7.1

Vignette Corporation (NASDAQ: VIGN) announced an enhancement to its Web Experience Platform – Vignette Community Applications 7.1. This integrated Social Media Solution enables organizations to build communities, encourage online interaction, boost campaigns and provide analytics. Vignette Community Applications 7.1, a key component of Vignette’s Social Media Solution, provides  tools to increase online interaction. In addition to enabling the creation and support of Web 2.0 capabilities such as blogs, wikis, forums, ratings and reviews, the solution allows companies to create unique social sites. These flexible sites combine microsite features with social-centric benefits such as idea management, calendars and events and the sharing of multimedia-rich assets including videos and podcasts. The adaptable social site templates allow marketers to quickly launch campaigns, communities and product sites. Vignette’s Social Media Solution provides a search engine, video technology, enterprise-grade scalability and a flexible, standards-based presentation technology that allows companies to combine social media elements with content from multiple sources. Vignette Community Applications 7.1 is available immediately.


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