What if anyone, anywhere could easily subtitle videos online? Mozilla Drumbeat, Miro and the Participatory Culture Foundation are working to create an open subtitling standard that lets any video client find matching subtitles, as well as tools to make creating subtitles easy.
My husband is bilingual and does translation between English and Czech in his spare time. While showing me a trailer for an upcoming Czech movie, Kuky se vraci, on YouTube, a familiar scene in our home unfolded. He translated what he could as I watched. He commented “I wish I could subtitle this, ’cause it’s so good.” It struck me then that just as there are hundreds of thousands of people creating amazing content for the web in their native languages, there are others who want to share that content outside of their culture.
I’ve been working on trying to articulate why this project is important for a while now and while the conversation with my husband shows how subtitles have the potential to bridge linguistic barriers, one of the Universal Subtitles developers passed on this video today that explains its potential far better than I ever could.
The project needs to raise $25,000 to get started. If you donate now, Mozilla Drumbeat will match your donation, dollar for dollar. If you’re spreading the word about Universal Subtitles, please send people to Mozilla.org for more information.
At the same time, the project is also looking for beta testers and coders who are interested in trying the subtitling interface and providing them with feedback. Want to make online video fun for everyone? Want to break down language barriers? Check out the Universal Subtitles blog for more details on how you can help.