Friday, August 17, 2012

An Experiment in Crowd Funding, Community, and Official Languages

While it's been years since I wrote Scheming Virtuously: A Handbook for Public Servants, interest in the document seems constant. Over the years I've invited people to contribute directly to the document on GCPEDIA, I've released an updated version myself, and even worked with my good friends at Govloop to spice it up visually. 

The only thing I haven't been able to do yet is have it translated. I've been asked repeatedly if the document is available in French and, sadly, it is not. It's something I've always wanted to do, but quite simply don't have the wherewithal to get done. 

Recently I was contacted by a Learning Advisor at the Canada School of Public Service who was keen to include Scheming in the orientation materials for new public servants. When I got the call I was flattered, it would, in my view, be a tremendous achievement.

Then, the obvious question came up, is it available in French? We chatted a bit more by email and it became clear that the school was unable to take on the cost of translation (which I completely understand given the estimated price tag of $3750 in times of austerity).

Besides, I don't have $3750 to spend on translation either, but the phone call got me thinking.  

Would the community be willing and able to chip in enough to get it done? Could crowd funding the translation be a viable option?

I wasn't sure (read: still am not sure), but I figured it was worth a try.

This is completely uncharted territory for me, and to be honest, I'm a bit uneasy about even trying this. I want to get the document translated but I'm hesitant to ask for help. 

Social capital has always been more important to me then physical capital, so if you can't contribute or don't want to, I completely understand. 

On the other hand if you can contribute or share the link to the campaign, I would sincerely appreciate it.


I will be participating in an Arm Chair at the Canada School of Public Service on Linguistic Duality day (September 13) to discuss the role of language in my home, in my workplace, and more generally in social media spaces. I plan on speaking about the results of this campaign in my presentation.
Originally published by Nick Charney at
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