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A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s

A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s 2560 1707 Atomic Scribe

Welcome to 2020! To celebrate, let’s looks back on how the 2010s changed the language services industry, for the better and worse.

The Rise of Machine Translation and Transcription

One of the biggest impacts on the language services industry in the 2010s was the growing use and accuracy of machine-generated transcriptions and translations. Companies, freelancers, and consumers can use software (like Google Translate) for free or very cheap to get language services, and many companies are developing their own software. Even here at Atomic Scribe we’ve introduced an automatic transcription option for $1/audio minute that combines human quality with machine efficiency.

The good news is that this is helping speed up services, and a lot of software is widely accessible. The bad news is that the accuracy for most files and texts is nowhere near 100%, which can especially be worrisome if the software is used on medical records, legal documents, or other files that need to be correct. It’s also hard for software to offer nuance and localization instead of a direct translation of content, which can cause problems (like in the case of Norway’s Olympic team mistakenly ordering 15,000 eggs).

So what can we expect next? The use of such services will surely rise, though some fear that computers will erase humans from the equation entirely in this service sector. Fortunately, the ability for machines to be 100% accurate on every transcription and translation is far from a reality, as humans are still needed to ensure accuracy. But we can leverage the positives of this software to help human workers perform better and more efficiently.

Increased Outsourcing

Outsourcing for transcription and translation definitely grew in the 2010s. However, where it grew to is troubling to some.

With the internet making communication so easy, globalization is taking hold in the language services industry as well. While before companies would outsource to local U.S.-based companies, now many are finding much cheaper alternatives in countries like India and the Philippines. Some U.S. companies are also using non-American labor that they pay peanuts to avoid having to pay Americans a living wage. While that’s great for a company’s bottom line, U.S. workers and service accuracy is suffering.

Take Rev, a popular company in the industry that was recently exposed for their poor pay and treatment of workers. While this allows them to charge little for their services, it also means their quality is far below Atomic Scribe’s, and that their workers have little incentive to do proper work. Unfortunately, the lowering of rates was a common theme throughout the decade, but it was promising to see more speak out about workers’ rights.

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

Loss of Quality Control

The problem with outsourcing on the internet is that it requires a great deal of trust. If you pay a company to translate an English advertisement into Korean, you need to trust that they will provide you a translation that is both accurate and localized. So how do you know it is correct if you don’t speak Korean and have no means to double check the work?

That should be a question we all have in mind in the 2020s, because the standards for quality control are diminishing. While now the cheapest option is usually seen as the best, that means there is likely no or little money spent on a second editor or translator checking the accuracy of a translation.

Because of this, we suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust. A nameless person behind a huge company that is paid very little has no incentive to provide you great work. But someone you trust and can speak with and ask questions about their work will.

Easier Access to Services

So far everything we have reviewed has had both positives and negatives. However, we will always celebrate how the 2010s ushered in a new wave of accessibility for those seeking translation and transcription services.

For example, while there is still work to do, YouTube provided an option of captions on their videos. This has helped Deaf and hard-of-hearing people enjoy more videos, and it makes translating of content easier. Google Translate has also been successful at helping people with basic translations or has been used by travelers to foreign countries. This helps with communication and accessibility worldwide.

As we’ve said, accuracy is still an issue. But the increased normalization and importance of accessibility is helping people worldwide, and we hope this trend will grow exponentially in the 2020s.

For Creators, Patreon and Language Services Are Linked

For Creators, Patreon and Language Services Are Linked 6000 4000 Atomic Scribe

It’s no secret that the Internet is uncharted territory that holds possibilities we can’t even dream of. Look back 20 years ago and it would be hard to imagine how much of a hold YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming content providers have today on our everyday lives.

As these platforms become more and more entrenched in society, how we interact with creators too has changed. For example, Patreon is a website that allows fans of creators to give money to aid creativity. The platform has helped podcasters, artists, musicians, and more earn a wage from areas that used to be more difficult to get revenue from.

What this also means is that creators can use this income to fund language services that may have been too costly before, such as transcription and translation.

Real-World Example

An example of this is Easy German, which was created to help people around the world learn German through YouTube videos (with almost half a million subscribers at the time of writing this article). These videos are available free online.

But to receive extra benefits, you can pay as little as $1 a month through their Patreon. These benefits include interactive worksheets, vocab lists, and best of all, transcripts. Transcripts are important for the Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or just for people who prefer seeing the words as they learn.

“It’s imperative to be able to reach as many people as you can with your business. So instead of waiting for a huge percentage of the population to learn English, isn’t it more efficient to translate your materials into popular languages?”

“It’s imperative to be able to reach as many people as you can with your business. So instead of waiting for a huge percentage of the population to learn English, isn’t it more efficient to translate your materials into popular languages?”

So, if you’re a creator, should you also transcribe your audio and video? We say, resoundingly, YES!

Doing so is a huge benefit to your supporters, and it also helps creators as well. Now you have a document of all that has been said, which is helpful for searching through text. The text can also be put on your web site to help more people find you through search engines. The same can also be said for translations, which opens up your content to millions more people around the world.

Best of all, Patreon can help fund transcripts and translations. If you’re interested, we recommend starting with our $1/audio minute automatic transcription service, which marries technology with human power to reach 100% accuracy. It is true that language services is an extra cost, but we guarantee that the reach they provide is well worth it.

The Future of Online Video

The Future of Online Video 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

Do you remember what the Internet was like 20 years ago? It was already becoming a constant, and yet it was so different from today’s standards. There was no Netflix, no YouTube, no Hulu. Those three sites are some of the most synonymous with online today, and they all have one thing in common – they’re video content sites.

Cisco released a report earlier this year that predicts video will account for an unprecedented 84% of all Internet traffic by 2018. There will be almost 4 billion users by then as well, which is over half of the world’s population.

Language Barriers

While the Internet can feel like it’s making the world smaller and easier to communicate with, there are still barriers, and this will only magnify as online use grows. The first issue is the language barrier. Overwhelmingly most of the Internet is written or spoken in English, but English is not the world’s most popular native language. With population growth exploding in Asia and Africa, languages such as Hindi, French and Arabic are expected to rise, and Mandarin Chinese will still be a growing force.

Another barrier is that most video content does not have proper captions for Deaf or hard-of-hearing people, or just for those who like to use captions while they watch video (which is a large number of watchers). In the U.S. it’s estimated that almost 40 million people are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, but that really doesn’t even come close to the number of people who prefer captions and transcripts to just watching a video by itself.

What Can We Do?

The way to help combat both of these issues is to provide captions or transcripts for your video content, in English and in other languages. You just have to pay for the translation once, and then you can use it for captions, on a web site for Google indexing and SEO reach, for marketing purposes, to publish, or whatever else you want. And your video content won’t be found via a search without text, so captions and transcripts can bring more viewers to your content.

There are over 7 billion people on Earth, and a majority of those use the Internet for video content. Don’t miss out on reaching as many people as you can with such a simple process as translation and transcription.