Weeknotes for April 17th 2020

Another whirlwind week, can’t believe it was only four days.

The main focus of the week was work with Shaun Hazeldine & Heather Leson for IFRC’s Solferino Academy to support a 60 person virtual meeting that needed simultaneous translation into four languages: Arabic, English, French, and Spanish. We worked with a team of eight professional interpreters. We used Zoom’s Language interpretation module, which allows you to assign interpreters to audio channels, mimicking an ‘everyone with headphones on’ UN-style meeting. Again testing and trial runs helped us identify limitations and assure that the interpreters were comfortable with a new system. It ended up working relatively flawlessly during the meeting, partially due to Laurent Fernandez Soldevila‘s attention to detail, creating a rota of interpreters so he could easily switch them at time intervals.

However, there were some unexpected limitations to the zoom language module. Disappointed that a premium language add-on does not provide Arabic as an option. It seems Zoom’s language options are limited to the software’s localised eight languages. It felt odd to have to tell Arabic speakers that they needed to tune to the Portuguese channel. The other limitation was lack of a backchannel for the interpreters to be able to communicate with each other.

Speaking of Zoom, really pleased to see this helpful tech guide on zoombombing self-defence from allies Palante.

Pleased to have made some very minor contributions to Willow Brugh’s excellent post on collaborative note taking: a practice for distributed meetings.

Also with Heather Leson and the rest of the IFRC Digital Transformation Team on co-creating a definition of Digital Volunteers, with actual Digital Volunteers working with the National Societies. We ran two sessions this week to bring volunteers together and compile examples of how they work to inform the direction of the Digital Transformation Strategy. What’s been surprising is the diversity of activities digital volunteers participate in, from helping schoolchildren with online courses, to doing one on one for psychosocial support.

Really chuffed to have Mor Rubinstein back from maternity leave and collaborating again on 360 Giving’s Data Champions Programme. We ‘re plotting on a day-long ‘virtual’ workshop on ‘data for leadership’ and realising that we could easily make it into two half day’s since we don’t have to bring everyone to one spot. We started scheming on the agenda for next week’s online discussion on Data and COVID-19 in grantmaking institutions, which includes compiling a document of efforts and resources.

Did a final push of outreach for FabRiders’ The (Virtual) Session Design Lab, which will take place on Thursday, April 23rd. I’m very impressed and excited by the diversity of participants the virtual element is allowing – with participants signing up from Nigeria and Guatemala. The event is nearly sold out.

Finished the week with debriefs on the various virtual meetings that were held. Some of the discussion focused on cost-benefits of not having to fly people across the world and the logistics but then turned to participant benefit analysis. Sure, participants don’t have to travel, and we can run virtual meetings that are as equally as productive as face to face. But what is being lost in terms of the relationship/solidarity building? The conversations that take place in transit, in the lobby’s, over meals, etc.