Your post reminds me of several things. One is Luca Barra's observations that fan produced translations can happen after a professional translation as stripped too much culture from the original. He looks at Italian translations of Lost, but I can see the ways in which a fan is going to do this translation in a very different way because, while they work to increase access, they don't need the audience that a show translated for another network does.
I was re-watching a fan-translation episde of Rurouni Kenshin last night and was taken out of the world when one character thanked another for speaking English. My assumption was that all the characters were speaking Japanese, and probably are in the original, but the translators changed it to English because I was listening the show in English translation. Finally I wonder about our awareness of the translation. Translation is best when we don't recognize it, but as a the Harry Potter example makes clear, while I know of obvious changes like calling the American version of Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I've never had a British version of the books to compare and think of the other translations that were done between English versions.
These are some very interesting connections between paratext and paraspace. Paraspaces seem to be transformative spaces, spaces in which paratext becomes text via fan interventions. These kabe don images, which are loaded with paratexts like kanji (which help authenticate the text), are transformed into new texts by fans in the paraspaces, and via references to the authentic Japanese and queer paratexts, these new texts borrow authenticity.
I’m curious about the recursive nature of paratext-text in these spaces. In what ways do these paratexts from the original manga and the new texts from the fan communities cycle into each other? Perhaps I’m too caught up in seeing the paraspace’s production of a new text as the end of the cycle. What happens once that new text is produced? Does it get folded back into the paraspace community and become the basis for a new generation of paratext-based texts? And if so, what happens as these paraspace-based texts get further from the original? Do they lose some of their authenticity? Or does the authenticity from the original get transmitted through the textual generations?
Great further thoughts on Viki and crowdsourced translation. The 'not enough' question you pose at the end of this piece is intriguing…. another example of the limitations and drawbacks of so-called 'participatory culture' that counters the uncritical, celebratory tone that so often attaches this concept. Love your commitment to segmenting training too!
This is such a great question and one I've been considering for some time. Practically, large-scale crowd sourced projects seem to need some kind of corporate entity (whether that be for-profit or non-profit) to create the structure. Even Wikipedia, which is often suggested as the best example of a non-profit, non-corporate entity with a small staff got much of its initial backing and server space from corporations.
For a site like Viki, and potentially the Smithsonian, the interface already being built does help get as many volunteers as possible creating the intellectual content. I can go in and segment 10 minutes of a show over my 30 min lunch break because I don't have to worry too much about upload formatting, aesthetic choices, and rendering video. So, the corporate entity improves access and quality.
At the same time, as this survey makes clear, these solutions don't come without their drawbacks. I'm in love with with the image of these filtered and layered interfaces that allow what was once scholarly work (translation and marginalia studies) to be taken on by academic enthusiasts. I wonder if this at once both opens more research time up to academics, but also robs them of something within academic work. I will have to think more on these questions.
As a novice in the crowd-sourcing discussion, I find your focus on the collaborative training model that emerges particularly interesting. That individuals seem to be employing pedagogical best practices is especially notable, as you signal; it suggests individuals who are aware of effective training practices. While many of our students pass through our courses, encountering some of these practices, I think a smaller group is particularly aware of the specific strategies we use and why. It makes me wonder more about the folks engaging in these training and translation practices on Viki.
At the same time, I think it intersects with some questions I have in regards to the Smithsonian's recent efforts to enable volunteers to transcribe archival material or the UVA Book Traces project which encourages folks to archive traces of readers in old library books. This transcription/archiving/translation/training activities as leisure/pleasure is interesting to me; creating and preserving all forms of information that the individual decides is valuable is in a way transgressive, yet is being encouraged by large and established institutions. In other words, how many filters are already in place by the time that information has made it to the leisure knowledge maker?
An interesting point. Do we need to define Viki in order to engage with it? One problem in doing so is that Viki keeps evolving and changing, as do digital platforms, networking translation technologies and eCommerce parameters. Viki actually started as a not-for-profit class project… It has already changed so much, and it continues to do so – which is part of its strength. It can certainly be considered a form of crowdsourcing but it is also clear that contributors still identify as fans and that fandom remains central to the project as a whole. Thanks for your feedback.
Yes, lots of cross-over with scanlation, which is something that Minako O'Hagan (2008) has looked at in the past. The issue of exploitation is definitely one to probe further. It would be interesting to know the impact of Viki's socially conscious campaigns and how they have been received broadly in the community. How are they being talked about by other stakeholders?
Yes, there are a lot of interesting dimensions to the Viki project and the way it blends professional/commercial with amateur/community. Certain things can get compromised in this mix yet many exciting opportunities also arise. Viki fansubs are less experimental than some other types of fansubbing, yet the community is really open and diverse, as are the translation flows. And, I agree, there is great potential to incorporate Viki user-friendly interfaces in the classroom!
Yes, its really interesting to hear about how these collaborative online communities actually work in practice. Mizuko Ito (2012) has written on this subject in relation to anime fansubbing and there has been quite a bit published on the working methods of Italian and Brazilian fansubbing groups also.
Yes, fascinating. I'd be interested to hear about any other research into this area….