‘Do you really believe that this is a US$32 billion industry?’, said the hardcore tycoon to us with desperation in his voice at dinner (he was paying), looking around and remembering his first day at what had been sold to him as the world’s largest localisation industry event. He had been brought in as CEO by a large localisation service provider (LSP) to float the company on the stock exchange within three years. He had expected to make a killing, big bucks – and now this irritating feeling kept creeping up in his stomach that he had swallowed a “lemon”. The tycoon had decades of experience in big business. He looked at industry events as showcases, trading posts, and shop fronts to potential clients and to the world. What he had experienced that day was more reminiscent of a class reunion: it was a meeting of people who had come together to show that they were still around and that they were doing well.
This week, 23-25 October, in the middle of the busy conference season, the world’s largest event for technical communications, the tekom annual conference and the tcworld and tekom fair, is taking place in one of Germany’s least know cities, Wiesbaden. It will attract 2,400 conference participants and 1,200 visitors to Wiesbaden’s Rhein-Main Hallen.
I was there on Monday, when exhibitors were getting ready setting up their stalls. It was impressive. Like a ‘real’ trade show. Technician’s high up on cranes fitting sophisticated displays. Carpenters fitting high-gloss veneers. Caterers making sure workers had enough to eat and drink during their day-long job erecting “stands” of a size that would cover the entire exhibition space of a “global” localisation event. The place was full of energy, it was busy, and it was big. It felt like what it promised to be: a global event.
Walking around, I met many friends and colleagues who were busy getting their material organised. Most of the localisation and translation industry associations had their booth already set up, among them Tekom, ELIA and GALA. All of them, with the notable exception of the tekom stand, were modest in size and sparse in fittings. I was wondering: was that because these were small associations, because they did not want to be seen by their members to “waste” their membership fees, or was it because they were just not used to present themselves as what they are: large, significant, and global trade associations.
A lot of the localisation service and technology providers were there too, among them Across, Lucy Software, Plunet, and SDL, many with installations of a size I had never seen before. They must look at this as a good investment, something that will be worth their while, looking the business, representatives of a US$32 billion industry – even if this is, remember, not a localisation, but a technical communications conference and fair.
I like the GALA conference, I like Localisation World, and, of course, I very much like the world’s oldest dedicated localisation event, the Annual LRC Conference in Limerick, Ireland. I like meeting friends and colleagues, and the opportunity to find out how they are doing. I always learn something new and the personal contacts are invaluable for my work. But I would also like an event, one event, for our industry that felt truly global, inclusive, and like a statement. That of a US$32 billion industry. Anyone?
PS: One (“Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now? You got someone to blame.”) is a song by Irish band U2 worth listening to. It also carries the message that we are all different, but can “carry each other”, a nice idea that ONE could, for example, link up with the idea of Social Localisation.
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