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What happens when you leverage the power of internet volunteerism in much the same way as Wikipedia, but with the intention of translating and subtitling videos? This was the question that Dean Jansen wanted to answer when he co-founded Universal Subtitles, a collaborative platform that allows for accessible and user-friendly subtitling of videos. Universal Subtitles replaces previously laborious tasks such as time-syncing with much easier tools, drawing inspiration from popular game interfaces. With over 40,000 videos already subtitled and key partnerships with PBS, Al Jazeera, and Khan Academy in place, there is no doubt that the model has a growing user base. In this audio interview, Sheela Sethuraman asks Dean Jansen about the organization’s first 18 months, winning the Tech Museum’s 2011 Catherine Swanson Equality Award, and the challenges of scalability and quality assurance moving forward.
It’s a modern relationship in a modern world. It’s a marriage full of promise. But does our culture’s celebration of the male-dominated tech world end up overshadowing critical skills like empathy that are required for social change?