After the R-Shief 4.0 workshop I realized how important the language is to be able to understand what you are researching about. I agree on the fact that if you are going to be working and investigating the problems of a country, it is very important for you to emerge in that country. Apart from living in it and experiencing what the natives are you should learn the language, because with the translation many expressions and particular words are lost this is due to the lack of an exact translation of the information or specific words. Reading about the problem, in this case, of the Middle East in Arab will enrich the researcher on his field and will make him become twice as aware as if the information had been translated to another language.
However a bit of controversy will rise because no translation will mean that people who are just interested to know about what is happening throughout the world, won’t have the privilege to get informed and therefore the ignorance will increase drastically as people will just know things that happen in their county or the countries that speak the same language. It’s impossible to learn every language in the world, therefore having information translated will allow creating a change as more people would be aware and willing to take part of the development.
R-Shief overall has many interesting ideas that will allow media to become more accessible and the users to search for what they want and the way they want that information.
One aspect that I found especially fascinating during the R-Shief lecture was the question on whether more data about the users should be collected. Professor Sakr stated her concern for the user’s security since the R-Shief software might not only be used by people with academic intentions. Governments or other groups might try to find out which users are spreading opinions that oppose their agenda and try to mute, imprison, torture or even kill them. The question on whether scientists should be held responsible on what others do with their findings is not new and in this case I am with Professor Sakr. It is of course interesting to learn more about the users, but the negative consequences of creating such an open-source software are too blatant and likely to ignore. The helpful insights that scholars might get cannot outweigh the fact that such a tool might lead to the killing of human beings fighting for their rights.
Another highly discussed issue was the aspect of translation. R-Shief does not translate any of its findings and Professor Sakr explained that with the unreliableness of automatic translation tools. She furthermore said that if one wants to do research on a country, one should either study the language or at least consult a translator as that is going to lead to a far better understanding than just looking at a automatically translated text. While automatic translation tools might have improved over the last years, they are still not as intelligent as a human being can be. Language is such an important part of culture and it shapes our understanding of the world, language itself transmits more than the mere content. Automatic translation tools might face problems if there is no linguistic equivalent, if different dialogues are used or puns are made. One video that adequately shows that automatic translations should not blindly be trusted can be found below.