I know that this post will show my local bias, but this year’s ATA conference in Denver was just fantastic. I didn’t actually take any photos, but you can see a few on Jill Sommer’s blog and look at the daily conference slide show on the ATA website. Thanks to Jeff Sanfacon of ATA for the great pictures!
Judy Jenner commented in her ATA Chronicle column that the ATA conference is her favorite week of the year from a professional standpoint. I have to agree! Although this year’s conference was a bit more hectic for me than past ones (lots of volunteer roles, plus presentations, plus zipping back and forth from my house to the conference hotel), it was a real thrill to be able to show Denver off to 1,500+ translators. The conference hotel (Denver Hyatt Regency) is spectacular and the ATA team did an outstanding job carrying on positive traditions from past conferences and innovating with some new ones. Huge thanks to ATA President Nick Hartmann, President-Elect Dorothee Racette and the ATA headquarters staff for the draft horse-style work that they did to put all of this together. For all of us locals, it was a huge relief that there was no blizzard during the conference…just that sapphire Colorado sky and warm weather!
Lest you get the impression that the ATA conference is all socializing and no actual learning, I thought that this year’s sessions were particularly worthwhile. I selected a mix of speakers I’ve seen and enjoyed many times (Grant Hamilton‘s “Spot the Gallicism”), subjects I don’t see myself pursuing but about which I need to know more (Bruce Popp‘s “Making sense of French and US patent terminology”) and entirely new horizons (Katharine Allen’s “Notetaking for dialogue interpreting in all settings”). This year’s French Language Division Distinguished Speaker, David Jemielity of the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise in Lausanne, Switzerland, presented two outstanding sessions on financial translations and is one of the best Distinguished Speakers I’ve heard in the six years I’ve been attending the conference. I also had fun catching up on the translation bookosphere (can we call it that to contrast it with the blogosphere?) at Marianne Reiner’s presentation on her translation of David Grann’s Trial by Fire and Chris Durban’s signing of her new book The Prosperous Translator.
Working as a home-based freelancer in 2010, I think it’s easy to discount the value of face-to-face interactions and to assume that all the valuable networking happens online. In my experience, this is a misguided assumption. It’s amazing how lasting an impression one can make during a very short in-person interaction, and how valuable it is to simply have a visual impression of someone you only know via phone and e-mail. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the bloggers’ lunch, but it was lots of fun to talk to other translation bloggers and blog readers during the conference.
Despite Lionbridge’s untimely decision to impose a 5% rate decrease on their translators, I felt that the mood at the conference was generally very positive. Many attendees said that their business has never been stronger, others are branching out with higher paying direct clients, and I think that many translators are also focusing more on producing very high quality translations for very quality-conscious clients.
Thanks to everyone who attended my seminar on Beyond the basics of freelancing, and if you have follow-up questions, feel free to submit them and I’ll try to answer some of them here. I was also honored to present “Blogging 101″ in Riccardo Schiaffino’s place, and you can download that presentation and Riccardo’s notes from his website. See you in Boston in 2011!