Meet Masahiro Kyushima, TED volunteer translator

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In the next weeks, the TED Blog will shine the spotlight on the fantastic TED volunteer translators — offering a glimpse of the people whose efforts continue to enrich the Open Translation Project. Today, we’d like you to meet Masahiro Kyushima.

Tell us about yourself.

In my childhood, I was a trivia king, reading all image-attached entries of encyclopedias. Reading Hugo Gernsback, Jules Verne, and Sir Arthur C. Clarke got me into science fiction stories. The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey had a huge impact on me.

The Beatles broke up before I was interested in music, and my true musical god was Paul Simon. I copied his guitar styles a lot. In my college time, I got involved in a fusion music band as a drummer, so Steve Gadd became my second god. I also was an avid car driver participating in college rally car-racing events. Around the same time I discovered that I really enjoy fine arts at museums, and art became my true joy. So far I have been to about 100 museums, keeping up with all sorts of arts. I do a bit of painting myself as well.

masahiro3.jpgI graduated from medical school and became a physician at Okinawa Chubu Hospital in Okinawa, Japan, where I have been working since. Now I am a cardiologist, and also the chief of medical informatics at our hospital. So I’m taking care of my patients at one time, and also watching screens of my Mac and Linux servers at another.

I also enjoy taking photographs, pottery-making and performing Japanese traditional tea service called “Chado” or “Sado.”

What drew you to TED?

While I was doing some research about the video podcast, I came across one of the TEDTalks, which was the TED Prize speech of James Nachtwey. I was shocked because, while dealing with humankind’s most serious and tragic events such as war, conflicts, health and environmental issues, his photographs were artistically beautiful. The discrepancy of tragedy and beauty living on a same image struck me, and introduced me to a taste of the framework of what the world really is all about. That shock drove me to dig into the TEDTalks more, and I became a regular viewer.

Personally, the intermingled existence of vast areas of knowledge at TED is a comfort to me, because I myself have fairly wide range of curiosity: technology (as an IT worker and a medical doctor), entertainment (as a musician), design (as a potter and a tea ceremony performer and an art enthusiast) and other areas. I feel this style of existence, of a broad spectrum of information mixed together, is very important in the era of the Internet, and will be the next style of knowledge. It’s the platform for inspiration and collaboration connected together.

masahiroF.jpgWhy do you translate?

I actually have two reasons to translate. One is just the same as TED itself: the talks are worth spreading. As a long-time networker and a person who wants to contribute to the Internet in some way, translating these ideas to my mother language and spreading them in Japanese society are a good practice of contribution.

Another reason is because I’m now preparing for a local TEDx event here in Okinawa, and I want to provide all the TEDTalks I will use with Japanese subtitles. In Japan, in order to spread these talks and ideas to the Japanese people, translation is essential. So, I’ve participated in the translation project myself, along with one of my friends who is bilingually fluent in English. While I was translating, I noticed that we needed a compact and active network of Japanese translators to systematically perform translations and reviews on mutual-aid basis. I started to volunteer for other translators’ reviews, and invited those translators to join in the mutual aid group which I made as a Google Group. One of my fellow translators, Akira Kakinohana, happens to be a programmer, and he wrote a couple of Perl scripts to handle the translation process on a shared Google Doc, which made our translations and reviews much easier than otherwise. Having the mutual-aid group and an efficient workflow using the shared Google Doc are the keys to how we handle the translation tasks fairly efficiently.

I am particularly grateful for those colleagues who joined my group and helped me by reviewing my translations.

As of today, we have about 170 Japanese translations done, and I feel I have enough TEDTalks to use in our TEDx. However, I can hardly stop translating more, because the contents of the new talks are really interesting for me personally. Now I’m translating them just for fun.