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Do you tweet or post comments on facebook while your colleague is working in the booth?

Do you post pictures from the meeting?

asked 27 Nov '11, 12:41

Holger's gravatar image


edited 14 Mar '12, 20:26

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Dear Holger,

I'm glad you ask this because I did a short presentation yesterday about "social media for interpreters" and didn't have the time to tackle "social media best practices".

As a rule of thumb, in the booth I would NEVER tweet, write a blog/Facebook post or do any other activity that is not related with the interpreting assignment. It goes without saying that you should never tweet the content of the conference if it is confidential. But I would like to go further: even if the meeting is not confidential, even if the conference is been broadcasted on radio/TV, you should NEVER tweet from the booth. The reason is obvious: even in your idle times, the interpreter is expected to be helping the colleague (looking up difficult terms, writing down numbers, etc.) and following the session. Your client pays you for that, especially for following the session during breaks so that the interpretation is coherent when handing over to your colleague.

To my regret, some interpreters tweet from the booth or even post pics. Even innocent comments like "wow, this meeting is extremely complex" or "still in the booth and I'm totally exhausted" are not only of no interest to your social media audience but also represent a dubious behaviour. If the meeting is so complex, you'd better concentrate and leave off tweeting. Moreover, if you're so exhausted, you'd better relax in the break and stop tweeting/posting (instead, it may help if you go to the toilet and refresh your face and back of your neck with cold water).

Remember that your client can find out that you have been "playing" on the Internet while being in the booth.

I would also like to encourage all tweeting interpreters to post interesting content. "What you're doing now" is not interesting. Instead, try to tell us "what is happening". Not many people will care about you being terribly exhausted in the booth. However, it will be interesting if you let us know which glossaries you found on the Internet for that difficult conference on fisheries.

You can read more about the use of social media by interpreters on the AIIC blog.

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answered 27 Nov '11, 13:33

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edited 12 Mar '13, 05:33

I would add one consideration: using FB or twitter, or even writing emails in the booth can be distracting to your partner. Besides the constant typing (and some of us do bang away on the keyboard), tweets and posts sometimes elicit giggles or impromptu comments, all of which may hinder the concentration of anyone else in the booth even if you are trying to be discreet.

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answered 17 Jan '12, 13:52

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Absolutely agree! Computers, smartphones and other gadgets should be used in the booth only to help the interpreters cope with the meeting they are working in.

(17 Jan '12, 14:27) Sirpa

I don't know if it is slightly off-topic since I am on no social network site whatsoever (don't trust their data privacy policy) but I guess I'll still try and explain what I mean. Whilst I agree with most of what has been said (helping colleagues, not distracting them typing like a sledge hammer etc.) sometimes I suppose that the best assistance I can give a colleague is to give them some breathing space (and vice versa). Sometimes I am quite happy for my colleague to go and do something else in the booth, be it Facebook or virtual bubble wrap

Conversely, if I get the impression that one my colleagues is having difficulties getting in sync with the speaker I sometimes just go and grab a cup of coffee or check my mails.

I suppose it's a delicate chemistry and some colleagues just have a stronger booth presence than others/sometimes well-intentioned advice can turn out to be slightly overbearing since we are operating in such a confined space?

I know you guys probably didn't mean to paint a black or white picture (alwaysalwaysalways help) but I just wanted to add this point in an attempt to round off the picture lest younger colleagues get the wrong idea (on one of my first jobs I overzealously ended up scribbling the phonetic word OXACA onto a piece of paper. Not because it was a key concept but because I just happened to know how to pronounce it and thought I had to help my colleague - just one of these things that still make me want to cringe even years later).

So, yes: Provided it's not about me ("Haha - booth mate just mispronounced the second syllable of...") or confidential parts of the conference, I am perfectly fine with twitter or fb in the booth.

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answered 28 Jan '12, 15:39

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edited 28 Jan '12, 15:44

Personally, I don't but that's because I rarely take a computer with me to the booth. If you are working in a confidential meeting or a meeting not open to the public, you should adhere to the strictest secrecy.

AIIC's code of ethics says: "Members of the Association shall be bound by the strictest secrecy, which must be observed towards all persons and with regard to all information disclosed in the course of the practice of the profession at any gathering not open to the public." Non-members are naturally not bound by this code but it's a reference for the profession. Therefore, you should only comment your work in the social media if the meeting is not confidential or is open to the public. Of course if your client gives you permission, that's a different story. And be sure not to disturb the colleague working in the booth!

When it comes to pictures, I would say you need to obtain permission from the people you photograph before posting them on the Internet, except perhaps if the meeting is open to the public. Even then, you should not photograph colleagues or post pictures of them without permission.

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answered 27 Nov '11, 13:01

Sirpa's gravatar image


...on top of what Sirpa wrote... methinks a booth assignment is a professional occasion whereas social networks are obviously... social, so the two should be kept separate; furthermore, "while you're not interpreting" the booth continues to work or at least to be on duty, as do you because breathers/off-mike periods are not breaks :-) and you should continue to be alert, when actually in the booth - which you should be for at least part of your down time - to what's going on in the room, un-announced speakers in your language/s, "cries" for help from colleagues, etc: having to be yanked back from a juicy tweet or "like" is not conducive to 100% performance :-).

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answered 27 Nov '11, 13:25

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The comment box is too short for my comment to this post, please refer to a separate answer below!

(27 Nov '11, 13:37) Sirpa

Thank you for complementing my answer msr. I agree with you except on one count - where you say that social networks are "social". Well yes, social networks may well be social but I think you mean the social media because that's what the question was about and to that I would like to say that the term "social media" is a bit misleading because they are very often used for professional purposes and interpreters can and should be doing that too! For instance my employer, the European Union, has a Facebook page called Interpreting for Europe. If you visit it, you will immediately understand that there is nothing "social" about the page, and the same goes to AIIC's Facebook page Interpreting the World and AIIC tweets, like the tweets yesterday from the interpreting workshops in Germany. Everybody is present in the social media these days.

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answered 27 Nov '11, 13:36

Sirpa's gravatar image


we agree that whatever interpreters should also be doing, other than booth work, should be done elsewhere than from the booth :-)

(27 Nov '11, 14:35) msr

Yes, absolutely!

(27 Nov '11, 15:28) Sirpa

Furthermore, by being busy with your social networking you are not available to help your booth-mate with that horrible acronym, that long list of figures or locating that elusive document to which all keep referring...

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answered 19 Jan '12, 10:46

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Vicky Massa

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question asked: 27 Nov '11, 12:41

question was seen: 9,332 times

last updated: 12 Mar '13, 05:33

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