Yesterday was the first CrisisCamp in Toronto. I heard about it from Jacqui Maher‘s presentation at CUSEC, and I decided to attend not really knowing what to expect. It turned out that there were six projects to tackle, and I tried to help with the machine translation project.
The idea was to provide an easily accessible translator for people on the ground. At the time the project started there was no Google Translate project that worked back and forth between for English and Haitian Creole. I think it was Chris that got a translator working based on moses after it’d been fed a corpus of every piece of Creole that he could get his hands on. The CCTO team’s job was to put together a web front end, and an API.
We were asked to write in python. There was no binding for the frontend, but Google had just made their Creole translator accessible. For testing purposes, we’re using their AJAX frontend. After a couple false starts with mod_python and Django, Brian and Kevin rewrote using the Twisted framework. It’s a little more obscure but it’s going to be easier to plug in other mediums like SMS.
We did in eight hours what a more organized team could’ve done in one. It’s hard to feel like I contributed anything other than two false starts and a bit of test code, but I’m still glad I went. I got to participate in creating what I think will be useful on the ground, even if I didn’t add much traction. At the very least I got to learn what it feels like to have a deliverable and a deadline but no spec.
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