TEDxMadrid transcription marathon

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The first TEDxMadrid transcription marathon took place on November 8, 2014, at the ImpactHub in Madrid. It was hosted by TEDxMadrid organizer and Senior TEDx Ambassador, Antonella Broglia, and her teammate Javi Garriz. We asked them to share with us how and why they organized this marathon.

Why did you decide to host a transcription marathon? What goal did you have in mind?

In 2013, it took an entire year (and a lot of effort) to transcribe and translate the 20 TEDxMadrid talks. With the help of TED's Ivana Korom, we were finally able to finish subtitling these talks just before TEDxMadrid 2014. Javi and I did almost all of the work (especially Javi, who has the most experience on the TEDxMadrid team subtitling in TED's Open Translation Project).

After this experience, we felt that we weren't prioritizing the translation of our own talks. We needed to be more creative. We had always defended the idea of holding TEDx events in Spanish, but we weren't doing enough to spread Spanish ideas throughout the world. So the goal for the transcription marathon was to launch a clear message to the TEDx community and ourselves: transcriptions and translations are a priority. We set out to distribute and accelerate the process for subtitling the TEDxMadrid 2014 talks — as well as to build a team of translators around the event.

Who participated in the transcription marathon? Were they already OTP volunteers?

They were all members of the TEDxMadrid audience (only one person was already an OTP volunteer). We launched the invitation to participate in the marathon on the day of TEDxMadrid — and that was key. Of the 90 people who volunteered for the marathon, we selected the 22 people we needed and they became OTP volunteers. After four weeks, all volunteers signed up on Amara (TED's subtitling platform). So we finally met last Saturday to do the marathon.

What did you learn from the experience?

Announce the call for volunteers on the day of your TEDx event. Audience members who love the talks will feel super motivated to participate. Once the volunteers sign up for Amara, make them feel special, because they are! They have joined a worldwide community of generous people who are working to make ideas accessible. The marathon format works because people feel pressed by the presence of others to finish their hard work, even if it takes 11 hours (like in our case).

What would you say to other organizers who are thinking of subtitling their talks? Would you recommend hosting a marathon?

Guys, working alone sucks. Put out a call at your next TEDx event for volunteers to participate in a transcription marathon. Be sure to take care of each and every volunteer — have good food, emphasize that transcriptions and translations are a priority for your TEDx event, and make the marathon fun! Encourage volunteers to meet and help each other, and celebrate the work you collectively accomplish.

Also, it's a great idea to connect each volunteer with the speaker of the talk he/she is subtitling. Not only will this make volunteers feel incredibly important, but there can also be amazing outcomes. One of our volunteers was invited to visit the speaker’s workshop facilities. There’s no bigger reward than that.

Lastly, and most importantly, I have Javi on my team. He is the best co-curator — he took the time to become an OTP contributor and understand 100% Amara and the subtitling process. You need a person like him on your team to recruit and teach volunteers, coordinate the subtitling process and make your TEDx talks globally accessible.

To organize a transcription or a translation marathon around your event, read How to organize a transcribeathon.