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Localization Unconferences: They are many things to many people

By Oleksandr Pysaryuk

Localization Unconference is a movement

Prompted by a call for unconferencing in 2007, the first ever Localization Unconference took place in Silicon Valley in March 2008, organized by Ultan O’Broin of Oracle and Shawna Wolverton of Salesforce. Many unconferences followed. Now, there is even a dedicated full-day Localization Unconference track on the program of every LocWorld conference, led by localization specialist Teresa Marshall.

Canadian editions of the Localization Unconference started in 2014, with the first event organized at Achievers. Toronto has hosted two more Unconference events since then, which have been a big success and reportedly of huge value. Toronto's events have brought together the community of translators, translation students, translation technology and service providers, localization professionals from regional technology companies (Kitchener-Waterloo-Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal), as well as guests from Seattle, San Diego, even Texas!

Localization Unconference is a platform

Unconference is not a place to un-friend. It is a platform to connect and build relationships with colleagues and fellow professionals from the industry. In a localized community, geographically speaking, that is.

The spirit of an Unconference is all about talking shop in an intimate, friendly, informal atmosphere. There are only a handful of principles for organizers and attendees to follow: No prepared presentations (aka no PowerPoint), no selling, and the audience can “vote with their feet” or, in other words, un-attend un-interesting sessions and come back any time to get and bring more value! Attendance at an Unconference is always free. Attendees suggest thought-provoking ideas and questions and vote on topics for discussion. And then they discuss, learn, share, connect and innovate!

Anyone is free to build on the original format, too. As an example, a German edition of the Localization Unconference evolved to add fantastic new tracks – Translatathon, Hackathon, and also an Open Source Unconference track.

Localization Unconference is global

One of the ultimate goals of a localization unconference is to have attendees walk away with the idea of spreading the unconference spirit further. Anyone is free to start similar meetups, dinners, and local unconferences. Dublin, Silicon Valley, Toronto and Montréal, Germany and Russia, and very soon San Diego – are just a few places that have become home to the Localization Unconference around the world!

Word gets around that Localization Unconference, Canadian Edition, returns to Toronto in April 2017. Another Unconference is taking place during the OTTIAQ annual conference in Montréal in November – in French, because it is Québec – with Stéphan Gervais, Certified Translator (OTTIAQ), in charge.

Any future Unconference is an event worthy of looking forward to!

Oleksandr Pysaryuk Oleksandr Pysaryuk is a localization manager at Achievers, provider of the cloud-based Employee Success Platform. Oleksandr has 15 years of experience in localization, on the buyer and service-provider sides. Before joining Achievers, Oleksandr worked at BlackBerry, Language Scientific, Logrus, and bodybuilding and powerlifting federations; earlier he taught translation at a university in Ukraine. He is co-organizing the Localization Unconference Toronto.


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