Translation blogs and social activism

Recently, I’ve been revising a paper that I started working on last summer. It explores translation blogs, a topic that drew my interest when I began researching translation networks. While my earlier research focused on how bloggers demonstrate competence through their blogs, I now intend to study various aspects of translation blogs, including which blogs are most influential, what motivates bloggers, and how blogs are used by translators.

Over the summer, when I studied seven months of postings on twenty-five translation blogs, I found that more than 60% of the posters used their blogs to share language-related news, while more than half offered translation tips of a practical or professional nature, and 40% reviewed articles, books, or software (although clearly some translators used their blogs for all three of these purposes). More recently, as I began to review additional blogs for my paper, I came across several instances of translators using their blogs to support a cause and/or to encourage others to do the same. While the blogs in my initial sampling did voice their opinions on contentious issues (crowdsourcing by for-profit companies, professionals accepting lower rates in a down economy, reverse-auction sites), they did not directly urge readers to engage in a particular action; however, the expressive and persuasive nature of many of the posts on these topics (see this post on reverse auctions, for example), showed the blogger’s opinion and encouraged readers to agree with him or her. A more direct call to action, though can be found here on Una Vita Vagabond. Although translation is only one of many topics addressed by the blogger, he is a translator, and he has written three posts describing the reasons for and encouraging others to sign a petition against ProZ for the way it operates its job posting system, where clients and not freelancers set the rates for projects.

Since I still have a few months before the conference where I’m planning to present this paper, I’ll now be considering how often translation blogs are used for activist purposes, and trying to determine whether a blogger’s influence affects how often he or she writes persuasive posts to directly or indirectly encourage readers to act in a certain way. I’ll post more as my research continues.

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