Today, I visited Ad:Tech briefly in the morning and attended the keynote panel. It was obvious Ad:Tech this year is an international event. Many people from outside China arrived in the Shanghai International Convention Center. There were not many people attending the conference. The conference hall was about 30% full.
The session was conducted in English at the beginning. COO of Sina and Director of MSN attended the panel. The language barrier was obvious. In which language a conference is presented now is an important decision. English seems to be the usual choice, but it really breaks down the communication this morning. It presents the same problem if the session is completely in Chinese. It is especially hard if English is not the native language for the panelists. I don’t know what about native English speakers; at least I tried very hard to understand.
Last week on the China Blogger Conference, Rebecca, former CNN reporter, used Chinese to host the panel of some bloggers from Taiwan and Hong Kong. Her Chinese was amazingly good. It also presented a good solution, a perfect solution actually, since most audience comes from China. Chinese has now been more and more used in some international conference in Shanghai. It is a good trend, from my point of view (obvious it is not for many others).
Translate to English?
Some bloggers in China started the effort to translate the best blog post to English so the outside world can see what common bloggers are discussing about everyday. This provides much more information than media reports. The sad fact seems to be, if something is not in English, it does not exist. One of the organizers admitted his confusion though. He was not 100% confident about the effectiveness of his effort. The problem is, if more effort like translating to English happens, English will become a much stronger language. He wondered why people in Asia still needs to use western media to know the world. For example, to know what is happening in Korea, most information sources are U.S. or Europe media. That is not always a complete view of the world.
I share the some confusion with the organizer of Dongxinanbei. That is the reason I asked: Is English Skill That Important?