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A Book Addict's Defense of the Smartphone | Technology and Learning
"A counterargument to the emerging conventional wisdom"



"Smartphones are either like cigarettes or comic books. Either bad for humans, or good for those who make their living telling us what is bad.

The smartphone worrywarts have some evidence on their side. I’ll get to some disturbing smartphone numbers in a second, but first some smartphone love.

Smartphones are the best thing to happen to book lovers since the paperback. The iPhone is a bookstore, library, and narrator.

The biggest reason that we don’t read more books is not lack of desire, but a shortage of time.

With my iPhone, I’m able to listen to audiobooks while walking, cooking, and cleaning. The Kindle iOS app allows me to read e-books in short bursts. I’ll read a page or two while standing in line at the grocery store, or while eating my morning cereal.

Does the advantages of the iPhone for book discovery, portability and reading outweigh the costs of mobile computing for everything else?

The big worry about smartphones is that they are killing our ability to focus. Productive thinking requires our attention, and smartphones are attention magnets.

On average, smartphone users (which is everyone now) spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on their phones. The top 20 percent of smartphone users are on their devices for an average of 4.5 hours per day.

Smartphones have been associated with everything from rising levels of anxiety and depression among teenagers to damaging interpersonal relationships.

Professors find the use of smartphones so distracting for teaching and learning that 1 in 4 has banned them from their classes.

A recent MIT study showed that even a single day with access to their smartphone can cause college students to have elevated levels of stress and anxiety.

Some warning signs of smartphone addiction that I found online include:

• “Difficulty completing chores or work due to concentration issues.”

• "Seclusion from family and friends or using your phone when in conversation.”

• Masking of smartphone use by sneaking off to the bathroom at work.

• “Worry that you’re missing out on something when you’re not with your phone.”

• Feeling "anxious or irritable” when not with your phone

• Sleep problems.

There seems to be a growing acceptance that we can’t control our smartphone actions. A recent NYTimes article called "Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain" (2/23/19) received 495 comments.

Almost half of Americans have tried to limit their smartphone usage in the past, with only 30 percent being successful.

I could go on enumerating all the disturbing smartphone statistics.

My point is not that I don’t think that smartphones can cause problems for attention, focus, and interpersonal relationships. I’ll stipulate that we have not adjusted to the downsides of having the internet - and everything that comes along with the web - in our pockets.

What I am saying is that the advantages of being to store, listen to, and read books - wherever and whenever - outweigh all the smartphone negatives.

The audiobook and the e-book, purchased (or borrowed) and read/listened to on a smartphone, is the game changer for book lovers.

Strangely, the wonderful opportunities to spend more time reading books that smartphones have enabled has gone largely uncelebrated. Academics - we people of the book - should be overjoyed about the potential of the smartphone to increase reading time.

We should be making the argument that the problem with the smartphone is not the device, but how people use it. Delete that Facebook app. Get rid of Twitter. Take the games off the phone. Maybe even remove your e-mail accounts.

Keep the Kindle and Audible apps. (Or whatever e-book and audiobook app that you use).

Think only of the smartphone as a reading device and a bookshelf.

Do you use your phone to read books?"
smartphones  mobile  phones  howweread  reading  joshuakim  infooverload  distraction  kindle  ebooks  audiobooks  access  accessibility  attention  2019 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day One - YouTube
The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Opening Remarks

Dorothy R. Santos and Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Co-Curators of Refiguring the Future

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM | World-building

Exploring the settler ontologies that govern technoscientific inquiry, this panel will engage technology towards a liberatory, world-building politic.

shawné michaelain holloway, Artist

Rasheedah Phillips, Artist and Co-Creator of Black Quantum Futurism

Alexander G. Weheliye, Professor, Northwestern University

Moderated by Maandeeq Mohamed, Writer


11:30 AM – 12:30 AM | Keynote Lecture


12:30 PM – 02:00 PM | Lunch


02:00 PM – 02:30 PM | Keynote Performative Lecture

In this performative lecture, artist Zach Blas offers critical investigations on issues of the internet, capitalism, and state oppression.

Zach Blas, Artist

Keynote Introduction by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Artist


02:30 PM – 03:30 PM | Symbiotic Ecologies

Narratives of colonial legacy, migration, and extinction have shifted our cultural imagining of ecologies. Beginning by acknowledging our existence in unsustainable climates, this panel brings forth artistic and activist practices which provoke and foster symbiotic relationships for new understandings within environmental predicaments.

Sofía Córdova, Artist

Jaskiran Dhillon, Associate Professor, The New School

Sofía Unanue, co-founder and co-director of La Maraña

Moderated by Kathy High, Artist.


03:30 PM – 04:00 PM | Coffee Break

04:00 PM – 05:00 PM | Speculative Bodies: A Shell to be Surpassed

Technological biases categorize individuals according to markers such as race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship, and in turn undermine how we live and navigate our present and future worlds. This panel collectively examines how the fields of health, genomics, and technology are reinforced by Western scientific discourses and speculate new insights for alternative systems of knowledge.

Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor, Princeton University

micha cárdenas, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Pinar Yoldas, Artist

Moderated by Dr. Kadija Ferryman, Researcher at Data and Society.

05:00 PM – 06:00 PM | Keynote Lecture

In this Keynote lecture, Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor examines the politics of social liberation movements. Author of #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor offers an examination of the history and politics of Black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States.

Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Assistant Professor, Princeton University

Keynote introduction by Dorothy R. Santos, Curator and Writer"

[See also:
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day Two
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCa36fWJhyk

"The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

See the full schedule here: https://www.eyebeam.org/events/refiguring-the-future-conference/

In the Annex:

Talks | Refiguring Planetary Health, Building Black Futures

We cannot have a healthy planet that sustains all human beings as long as the systemic oppression of Black and Indigenous peoples continues. And yet, prominent environmental science institutions concerned with conservation and climate change often fail to address this oppression or their role in perpetuating it. In this talk, we will explore how histories of scientific racism and eugenics inform current scientific policies and practice. Cynthia Malone will work with various forms of freedom practice, from hip hop to science fiction to scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition, to consider alternative visions for planetary health that advance both environmental stewardship and liberation from oppressive ideologies and systems.

Cynthia Malone, Activist, Scholar, and Scientist
---
The Spirit of the Water Bear

In this talk, Claire Pentecost will give an introduction and reading of Spirit of the Water Bear, a young adult novel set in a coastal town in the Carolinas. The novel’s protagonist, Juni Poole, is a 15-year-old girl who spends much of her time exploring the natural world. Inevitably, she finds herself confronting the urgency of a crisis that has no end, namely climate change and the sixth great extinction. Through experiences of activism, she finds comrades who feel environmental and political urgency much as she does, and learns that she has a place in the ongoing struggle for environmental justice. The book is a work of “Cli-Fi” or climate fiction, featuring Juni’s adventures, but it is also a work of “Cli-Phi” or climate philosophy, featuring conversations and musings on the nature of our existential predicament.

Claire Pentecost, Artist

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow
---
Roundtables and Talks | Visible networks: Community Building in the Digital Arena

As notions of accessibility are being rendered visible on networks and digital medias, disability and chronic illness communities are utilizing networks to provide resources and representations. Yet what does it mean to build community within these platforms? This roundtable discussion offers reflections by artists working to provide new insights into biomedical discourses which reinforce apparent and unapparent representations of disabled bodies.

Hayley Cranberry, Artist

Anneli Goeller, Artist

Yo-Yo Lin, Artist
---
#GLITCHFEMINISM

Legacy Russell is the founding theorist behind Glitch Feminism as a cultural manifesto and movement. #GLITCHFEMINISM aims to use the digital as a means of resisting the hegemony of the corporeal. Glitch Feminism embraces the causality of ‘error’ and turns the gloomy implication of ‘glitch’ on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, cultural stratification, and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization—processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies—may not be ‘error’ at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. The digital is a vessel through which our glitch ‘becoming’ realises itself, and through which we can reprogramme binary gender coding. Our ‘glitch’ is a correction to the machine—f**k hegemonic coding! USURP THE BODY—BECOME YOUR AVATAR!

Legacy Russell, Curator and Writer

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow"]

[See also:
"Eyebeam presents Refiguring the Future: an exhibition and conference organized by REFRESH, produced in collaboration with Hunter College Art Galleries."
https://www.eyebeam.org/rtf/

EXHIBITION
Curated by REFRESH collective members Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Dorothy R. Santos, the exhibition title is inspired by artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work defining a concept of “refiguring” as a feminist, de-colonial, and activist practice. Informed by the punk ethos of do-it-yourself (DIY), the 18 artists featured in Refiguring the Future deeply mine the historical and cultural roots of our time, pull apart the artifice of contemporary technology, and sift through the pieces to forge new visions of what could become.

The exhibition will present 11 new works alongside re-presented immersive works by feminist, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-ableist artists concerned with our technological and political moment including: Morehshin Allahyari, Lee Blalock, Zach Blas*, micha cárdenas* and Abraham Avnisan, In Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini)*, Mary Maggic, Lauren McCarthy, shawné michaelain holloway*, Claire and Martha Pentecost, Sonya Rapoport, Barak adé Soleil, Sputniko! and Tomomi Nishizawa, Stephanie Syjuco, and Pinar Yoldas*.

Names with asterik denotes participation in the conference. ]
eyebeam  dorothysantos  lolamartinez  maandeegmohamed  liberation  art  events  2019  heatherdewey-hagborg  shawnémichaelainholloway  rasheedahphillips  alexanderwehelive  zachblas  ecology  ecologies  sofíacórdova  sofíaunanue  jaskirandhillon  lamaraña  speculativefiction  designfiction  keeangayamahtta-taylor  michacárdenas  blacklivesmatter  gender  race  sexuality  citizenship  future  inclusions  inclusivity  health  genomics  speculativedesign  design  arts  pinaryoldas  kadijaferryman  glitchfeminism  feminism  clairepentecost  heyleycranbery  anneligoeller  yo-yolin  cyntihiamalone  climatechange  globalwarming  eugenics  racism  science  scientificracism  oppression  systemsthinking  activism  climatefiction  junipoole  accessibility  legacyrussell  technology  digital  disability  worldbuilding  bodies  biotechnology  morehshinallahyari  queer  decolonization  anti-racist  ableism  abti-ableism  leeblalock  abrahamavnisan  virginiabarratt  francescadarimini  marymaggic  lauranmccarthy  marthapentecost  sonyarapoport  barakadésoleil  sputniko!  tomominishiz 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Architect Chris Downey goes blind, says he’s actually gotten better at his job - 60 Minutes - CBS News
"A social worker tried to tell him about "career alternatives" after he lost his sight, but Chris Downey wasn't about to stop being an architect"



"At age 45, Chris Downey had pretty much constructed the life he'd always wanted. An architect with a good job at a small housing firm outside San Francisco, he was happily married, with a 10-year-old son. He was an assistant little league coach and avid cyclist. And then, doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. He had surgery, and the tumor was safely gone, but Downey was left completely blind.

What he has done in the 10 years since losing his sight, as a person, and as an architect, can only be described as a different kind of vision."
architecture  blind  blindness  design  2018  accessibility  chrisdowney  sound  acoustics  via:johnrickford 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:
https://www.mapping-access.com/podcast/2018/12/29/episode-1-contra-design-with-sara-hendren

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription

++++

Themes:

Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power

Links:

Sara Hendren (https://sarahendren.com)

Abler blog (https://ablersite.org/)

Adaptation and Ability Lab (http://aplusa.org/)

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (https://patient-innovation.com/post/1047?language=en)

Sketch Model project at Olin College (http://www.olin.edu/collaborate/sketch-model/)

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/253076.Tools_for_Conviviality)

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (https://www.dukeupress.edu/Meeting-the-Universe-Halfway/)

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/building-access)

++++

Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.

++++

Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, www.mapping-access.com or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Dr Fish Philosopher🐟 on Twitter: "1. #AmAnth2018 is taking place in the midst of one of the deadliest fires in California history. If breathing in the smoke of burning trees, homes, cities doesn't convince us that we need radically different ways to en
"1. #AmAnth2018 is taking place in the midst of one of the deadliest fires in California history. If breathing in the smoke of burning trees, homes, cities doesn't convince us that we need radically different ways to engage beyond conference center model...I don't know what will

2. I have deep respect for labour that goes into planning these events. I know folks are doing their best+striving to make spaces for connection. I hope we can build on that spirit+find ways to support relationality while tending to the disasters (thinking with @hystericalblkns )

3. Things I am thinking about after the #RefuseHAU #HAUTalk panel is: how do we ensure those who are most marginalized within anthro (and beyond) are seen, heard, cited while also disrupting the structures that operate to exclude myriad voices. What can we salvage from anthro?

4. This year, with the smoke, #AmAnth2018 really feels like a salvage operation (thinking here with Anna Tsing). What can we take from the existing structures -- what can we reconfigure to make these more capacious spaces at the end of certain worlds?

5. It may very well be that the environment refuses these spaces for us -- makes it that much harder to operate as 'normal'. What ethical imaginations can we mobilize to maintain and foster connection while considering our nonhuman kin literally burning/vaporizing as we meet."

[See also:
https://twitter.com/LysAlcayna/status/1064172084325048320
"Two takeaways from #AmAnth18: ‘the smoke is telling us something’ @ZoeSTodd | ‘anti-capitalism is the only sane position - the alternative is just f*cking ridiculous’ @profdavidharvey"



https://twitter.com/anandspandian/status/1063947610216525824
"One utopian vision after smoky #AmAnth2018. Make the megaconference a biennial. Imagine instead, every other year, dozens of simultaneous regional gatherings, each streaming sessions online and holding virtual meetups. Gather with folks in person & tune in elsewhere. Speculating."

https://twitter.com/anandspandian/status/1064166786294317056
"Here's a description of the distributed model we used at @culanth for #displace18 this spring. Registration for $10, less than 1% of typical carbon emissions, and an average panel audience of 125 people. An alternative to the empty conference center room. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1595-reflections-on-displace18 "

https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/1063952375428218880
"Reading this, I also realized I was able to attend more talks at Displacements by tuning in from home (cost: $10), than I was able to attend at #AmAnth2018 by actually flying to San Jose for two days with two days of travel on either end to present my paper (cost: over $900)."

https://twitter.com/nativeinformant/status/1063952575647703040
"I like this, although for those of us at small teaching colleges with little intellectual community, conferences are a welcome (though exhausting and expensive) change."

https://twitter.com/RJstudies/status/1064208726461112320
"I have this problem. There are universities close by who could be more welcoming to those of us not working at research institutions. I am thrilled that this conversation is happening."

https://twitter.com/nha3383/status/1063980370901655552
"Probably the most expensive academic conference I have ever participated/presented in coming from the Global South. My university covered me but what about those scholars who will never get an opportunity because AAA provides no bursaries or lower rates for membership. Ripoff."



https://twitter.com/anandspandian/status/1063939720202186752
"I'm trying to imagine how to salvage the promise of connection & kinship without binging so much on carbon & vaporizing life. No simple answer. Building & deepening regional intellectual communities as an alternative? A social foundation for a distributed conference model."

https://twitter.com/ZoeSTodd/status/1063940974391418880
"Yes, the conversation today has given me lots to think about. How do we balance need for meaningful opportunities to engage while also addressing the visceral environmental, economic issues that come any professional organization converging on a city."

https://twitter.com/anandspandian/status/1063940871538671616
"I would also love to see develop a virtual platform for alternative access to the @AmericanAnthro annual meeting, not to substitute, but to supplement. Those who can't afford to attend in person, or can't stomach the carbon burden, shouldn't have to fly this far in a digital era."

https://twitter.com/g_mascha/status/1064082401004056577
"There's an obsession with attending all annual meetings. It's not necessary, exhausting and takes time from regional networking that could emphasize not just presenting but working with each other. Also, AAA could alternate between virtual and in-person (+virtual) meetings."]
zoetodd  conferences  sustainability  climatechange  2018  labor  accessibility  environment  anticapitalism  capitalism  davidharvey  lysalcayna-stevens    anandpandian  displacements  displacement  events  regional  distributed  decentralization  economics  academia  highered  culturalanthropology  anthropology  emissions  audience  virtual  digital  annalowenhaupttsing  nehavora  michaeloman-reagan  kristinwilson  nausheenanwar  #displace18  highereducation  education 
november 2018 by robertogreco
“No devices” policies and accessibilty – You're the Teacher
"I have had a couple of conversations here and there with faculty and graduate students about students using electronic devices in the classroom, and about policies that some instructors have saying that students aren’t allowed to use them at all (or that there are periods during a class where they must be put away, but other times when they can be used). I knew that sometimes students really need devices to succeed, particularly if they have certain kinds of disabilities; but I sometimes struggled to give good examples of when that might be the case, to help others see why electronic devices are critical for some students. In this post I’ll be giving a number of examples."
academia  highered  highereducation  policy  technology  accessibility  learning  howwelearn  paternalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Library is Open: Keynote for the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference – actualham
"So I am trying to think about ways in. Ways in to places. Ways in to places that don’t eschew the complexity of their histories and how those histories inflect the different ways the places are experienced. I am thinking that helping learners see how places are made and remade, and helping them see that every interpretation they draw up–of their places and the places that refuse to be theirs– remake those places every hour.

This for me, is at the heart of open education.

Open to the past.

Open to the place.

Open at the seams.

Open to the public.

PUBLIC

So there is our final word, “PUBLIC.” You know, it’s not that easy to find out what a public library is. I googled it in preparation for this talk. It’s like a public museum. It might be open to the public, but does that make it public? But you know, it’s not that easy to find out what what a public university is. For example, mine. Which is in New Hampshire, the state which is proudly 50th in the nation for public funding of higher education. My college is about 9% state funded. Is that a public institution?

I think we may be starting backwards if we try to think of “public” in terms of funding. We need to think of public in terms of a relationship between the institution and the public (and the public good) and the economics of these relationships can be (will be! should be!) reflective of those relationships, rather than generative of them. What is the relationship of a public library or university– or a public university library– to the public? And could that relationship be the same for any college library regardless of whether the college is public or private?

Publics are places, situated in space and time but never pinned or frozen to either. Publics are the connective tissue between people, and as Noble points out, corporate interest in the web has attempted to co-opt that tissue and privatize our publics. A similar interest in education has attempted to do the same with our learning channels. Libraries exist in a critical proximity to the internet and to learning. But because they are places, that proximity flows through the people who make and remake the library by using (or not using) it. This is not a transcendent or romantic view of libraries. Recent work by folks like Sam Popowich and Fobazi Ettarh remind us that vocational awe is misguided, because libraries, like humans and the communities they bounce around in, are not inherently good or sacred. But this is not a critique of libraries. Or in other words, these messy seams where things fall apart, this is the strength of libraries because libraries are not everywhere; they are here.

I know this is an awful lot of abstraction wrapped up in some poetry and some deflection. So let me try to find some concrete practice-oriented ideas to leave you with.

You know textbooks cost way, way too much, and lots of that money goes to commercial publishers.

Textbook costs are not incidental to the real cost of college. We can fix this problem by weaning off commercial textbooks and adopting Open Educational Resources. OER also lets us rethink the relationship between learners and learning materials; the open license lets us understand knowledge as something that is continually reshaped as new perspectives are introduced into the field.

We can engage in open pedagogical practices to highlight students as contributors to the world of knowledge, and to shape a knowledge commons that is a healthier ecosystem for learning than a system that commercializes, paywalls, or gates knowledge. And all of this is related to other wrap-around services that students need in order to be successful (childcare, transportation, food, etc), and all of that is related to labor markets, and all of that is related to whether students should be training for or transforming those markets.

As we focus on broadening access to knowledge and access to knowledge creation, we can think about the broader implications for open learning ecosystems.

What kind of academic publishing channels do we need to assure quality and transparent peer review and open access to research by other researchers and by the public at large? What kinds of tools and platforms and expertise do we need to share course materials and research, and who should pay for them and host them and make them available? What kind of centralized standards do we need for interoperability and search and retrieval, and what kind of decentralization must remain in order to allow communities to expand in organic ways?

I’d like to see academic libraries stand up and be proud to be tied to contexts and particulars. I’d like to see them care about the material conditions that shape the communities that surround and infuse them. I’d like them to own the racism and other oppressive systems and structures that infuse their own histories and practices, and model inclusive priorities that center marginalized voices. I’d like them to insist that human need is paramount. Humans need to know, learn, share, revise. I’d like them to focus on sustainability rather than growth; the first is a community-based term, the second is a market-based term. Libraries work for people, and that should make them a public good. A public resource. This is not about how we are funded; it is about how we are founded and refounded.

Helping your faculty move to OER is not about cost-savings. You all know there are much easier ways to save money. They are just really crappy for learning. Moving to OER is about committing to learning environments that respect the realities of place, that engage with the contexts for learning, that challenge barriers that try to co-opt public channels for private gain, and that see learning as a fundamentally infinite process that benefits from human interaction. Sure, technology helps us do some of that better, and technology is central to OER. But technology also sabotages a lot of our human connections: infiltrates them with impersonating bots; manipulates and monetizes them for corporate gain; subverts them for agendas that undercut the network’s transparency; skews the flow toward the privileged and cuts away the margins inhabited by the nondominant voices– the perspectives that urge change, improvement, growth, paradigm shift. So it’s not the technology, just like it’s not the cost-savings, that matters. It’s not the new furniture or the Starbucks that makes your library the place to be. It’s the public that matters. It is a place for that public to be.

Libraries are places. Libraries, especially academic libraries, are public places. They should be open for the public. Help your faculty understand open in all its complexity. Help them understand the people that make your place. Help your place shape itself around the humans who need it.:
open  libraries  access  openaccess  2018  oer  publishing  knowledge  textbooks  college  universities  robinderosa  place  past  present  future  web  internet  online  learning  howwelearn  education  highered  highereducation  joemurphy  nextgen  safiyaumojanoble  deomcracyb  inequality  donnalanclos  davidlewis  racism  algorithms  ralphwaldoemerson  thoreau  control  power  equality  accessibility 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Gehörlosengerechtes Bauen: Deaf Space Architektur | Sehen statt Hören | BR Fernsehen | Fernsehen | BR.de
"Steel, glass, concrete, open and flooded with light: modern architecture appears generous, clear and bright. This meets the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing. But what does deaf building really look like?"
deaf  architecture  schools  schooldesign  accessibility  disabilities  disability  via:cervus  design 
october 2018 by robertogreco
New Work: Park McArthur · SFMOMA
"Park McArthur works with and through the social conditions of dependency, often in relation to care and access. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo museum presentation, examines the materials and processes frequently associated with monuments, memorials, and museums, and explores ongoing relationships with a building or place of congregation. New Work: Park McArthur features new and existing work that draws from the granite and wood of SFMOMA’s building, and includes photographs of informal gathering sites such as picnic tables in a public park. The marks and signs used at these sites question the connections—casual, recreational, ceremonial—that bind stone and wood to site, and people and locations to time."



[video]

"Artist Park McArthur discusses her exhibition at SFMOMA, New Work: Park McArthur, which examines how forms of commemoration and sites of congregation, including museums, create meaning and influence memory. She considers hidden histories and issues of access through explorations of materials, markers, and social spaces."

[via: https://twitter.com/e_mln_e/status/1019327517834899456 ]
parkmcarthur  sfmoma  art  architecture  design  materials  renovation  sanfrancisco  access  accessibility  congregation  commemoration  ramps  museums  memory  influence  meaningmaking  meaning 
july 2018 by robertogreco
How He's Using His Gifts | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 12]
"We explore…gifted students, twice exceptional students, educators who shift from traditional to self-directed education, civic connections, the truth about college, and giving black and brown children more access.

Anthony Galloway wasn’t willing to be another cog in the system.

He’s a smart, twenty-something year old African-American man who chose to go into the field of education. He came up through the system, and learned how to excel in it. He also knew that he wanted to be part of the change in public education that allowed children of color access to the same resources and opportunities as children in white schools or private ones.

Anthony co-founded an Agile Learning Center, now facilitated by both him and long-time educator, Julia Cordero. I think you’re gonna find this discussion interesting because Anthony’s an educator who saw the school system for what it was and is, and started his own school to create something better."
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  schools  education  unschooling  deschooling  gifted  juliacordero  race  schooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  howwelearn  learning  praise  comparison  alternative  grades  grading  curiosity  libraries  systemsthinking  progressive  reading  howweread  assessment  publicschools  elitism  accessibility  class  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  unpaidinternships  studentdebt  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  agilelearning  community  collaboration  sfsh  tcsnmy  freeschools  scrum  cv  relationships  communities  process  planning  documentation  adulting  agilelearningcenters 
july 2018 by robertogreco
World Cup 2018: Why millions of fans see the football like this - BBC News
"Sean Hargrave is a self-declared football obsessive, but when he sat down to watch the opening match of the 2018 World Cup he couldn't tell one team from the other.

He wasn't the only one struggling. Roars of frustration jumped from sitting rooms to social media as fans worldwide branded Russia v Saudi Arabia "a disgrace".

The problem? Sean, like 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, is colour-blind.

Specifically, he struggles to tell red and green apart - the most common form of the condition. So if one team plays in red kit (Russia) and one in green (Saudi), it's game over. Or as he puts it, "it's like Madonna coming out on stage and saying, 'I'm singing the songs in Swahili tonight!'""
worldcup  color  colorblindness  2018  accessibility  sports  football  soccer 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Towards A Library Without Walls
"Collaboration has also become key to the way we conceive associative indexing on today’s version of the Internet, which could not have been anticipated by Bush at today’s scale. In “As We May Think,” Bush does acknowledge the possibility of sharing links generated by the Memex in the example of a researcher reproducing a trail on the Turkish bow for inclusion in a colleague’s “more general” trail.6 However, the scale of a hypertextual tool such as Are.na, which has over 20,000 users, far exceeds the one-to-one exchange Bush envisioned for his Memex, with significant implications for associative indexing. This phenomenon has its own neologism, “crowdsourcing,” wherein large numbers of users, most typically through the Internet, contribute to an information platform, as seen widely from commercial endeavors such as Google-owned Waze to non-profit projects such as Wikipedia. The relative advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing for knowledge production are the subject of much literature but could be briefly alluded to here in terms of diversity of material, collective intelligence, increased scale, and lack of consolidated control. But at its most promising, crowdsourcing creates the potential for rich communities that can form around information sharing, as is well articulated by Paul Duguid and John Seely Brown writing on the social life of information:
“[D]ocuments do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity. Viewing documents as mere information carriers overlooks this social role.”7
"



"Considering the ways in which Are.na operates within a community of artists and culturally-engaged individuals, contrasting Are.na with Bush’s Memex highlights the importance of conceiving how knowledge forms, knowledge tools, and knowledge communities all interplay with one another. By acknowledging other forms of knowledge beyond the scientific and better understanding the role sociality plays in our contemporary experience of information, we can better define what constitutes information and how best to describe, classify, organize, and make it accessible as librarians. Rather than prioritizing static information, fixed organization, and solitary experiences as the conventional library environment is known to do, those of us who work in LIS can adopt the more boundless strategies that we encounter in hypertextual tools such as Are.na for the benefit of the communities that we serve, essentially working towards becoming a library without the brick walls that Lampland and Star refer to in regards to infrastructure that fails to serve user needs. Parallel to thinking about what Are.na might mean for librarianship, we can look to extant projects such as the Prelinger Library and the Sitterwerk’s Kunstbibliothek, whose methods for organizing their material also exist as an alternative to more traditionally-organized libraries.

So to expand on Sam’s question and its inverse: What could a reference interview that uses Are.na look like? What would happen if books in an OPAC were nodes that could be linked by users? And what if the discovery tools we design actually encouraged research that is social, elusive, and nonlinear?"
are.na  libraries  internet  web  online  2017  karlywildenhaus  mlis  archives  archiving  marthalampland  susanleighstar  hypercad  hypertext  vannevarbush  paulotlet  tednelson  stéphanemallarmé  knowledge  information  clissification  taxonomy  accessibility  librarians  social  memex  paulduguid  johnseelybrown  crowdsourcing  aswemaythink  connections  collaboration 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Eva Weinmayr — Essay: Library Underground — a reading list for a coming community (Sternberg Press)
"What does it mean to publish today? In the face of a changing media landscape, institutional upheavals, and discursive shifts in the legal, artistic, and political fields, concepts of ownership, authorship, work, accessibility, and publicity are being renegotiated. The field of publishing not only stands at the intersection of these developments but is also introducing new ruptures. How the traditional publishing framework has been cast adrift, and which opportunities are surfacing in its stead, is discussed here by artists, publishers, and scholars through the examination of recent publishing concepts emerging from the experimental literature and art scene, where publishing is often part of an encompassing artistic practice. The number and diversity of projects among the artists, writers, and publishers concerned with these matters show that it is time to move the question of publishing from the margin to the center of aesthetic and academic discourse.

Texts by Hannes Bajohr, Paul Benzon, K. Antranik Cassem, Bernhard Cella, Annette Gilbert, Hanna Kuusela, Antoine Lefebvre, Matt Longabucco, Alessandro Ludovico, Lucas W. Melkane, Anne Moeglin-Delcroix, Aurélie Noury, Valentina Parisi, Michalis Pichler, Anna-Sophie Springer, Alexander Starre, Nick Thurston, Rachel Valinsky, Eva Weinmayr, Vadim Zakharov.

Design by Studio Pandan | Pia Christmann & Ann Richter"

[direct link to .pdf: http://evaweinmayr.com/wp-content/uploads/Eva-Weinmayr-Library-Underground-Sternberg.pdf ]

[via: https://www.are.na/block/1029270 ]
community  libraries  unschooling  deschooling  resistance  communities  books  publishing  institutions  subversion  access  accessibility  2016  ownership  capitalism  evaweinmayr  hannesbajohr  paulbenzon  kantranikcassem  bernhardcella  annettegilbert  hannakuusela  antoinelefebvre  mattlongabucco  alessandroludovico  lucasmelkane  annemoeglin-delcroix  aurélienoury  valentinaparisi  michalispichler  anna-sophiespringer  alexanderstarre  nickthurston  rachelvalinsky  vadimzakharov 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Web Accessibility: What You Say vs. What I Hear | Think Company
"AVOID CREATING BARRIERS FOR PEOPLE

While the following list isn’t comprehensive, it could be a starting point for thinking about accessibility in your work and organization. Consider how you could unintentionally make it difficult for people to access your content and begin by shifting your perspective.

1. Think about accessibility from the very beginning. Communicate it across business, design, development, and testing.

2. Make accessibility a priority, a business case, and a part of your organization’s definition of “done.”

3. Include people with disabilities in your user personas and conduct research and studies with real people.

4. Make sure everyone gets accessibility training. Learn how to use assistive technology.

5. Think about multiple methods to convey information and interact with user interface.

6. Apply proper keyboard support and think about tab order. This will ensure a baseline level of accessibility for various assistive technology.

7. Design and develop according to the latest standards.
Create internal accessibility standards and requirements.

8. Let’s change the dialogue around accessibility. People want to hear what you’re saying."
via:dirtystylus  accessibility  advocacy  webdev  webdesign  web  online  internet  mikeyilagan  standards  disabilities  disability  assistivetechnology  technology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Sean Michael Morris on Twitter: "It’s not pragmatic now to think that on-campus and online college experiences can remain separate, in terms of quality but especially in terms of ideology. #digped"
"It’s not pragmatic now to think that on-campus and online college experiences can remain separate, in terms of quality but especially in terms of ideology. #digped

We have long framed online learning as inclined toward rudiments, toward direct instruction, toward autonomy, whereas campus learning is framed as intimate, nuanced, communal.

But if online learning is more rudimentary, less nuanced, personal, complex than campus learning, it betrays an implicit assumption that so are online students less.

In program after program, online classes are restricted to courses that rely more entirely on content than on invention and inquiry. The most interesting classes are kept on campus.

When we omit seminar classes or dialectical teaching and learning from online course offerings, we create an inequity. When we think of online learning as instrumental and not intrinsically valuable, we create an inequity.

Online students are students like on-campus students. Just as curious, just as hopeful, just as genius, just as troubled, just as excited and unsure. Do our online courses actually accommodate them?

Do online courses accommodate students at all? Or do they cater primarily to an ideology of efficiency, retention, “student success”, and numbers which institutions can report?

Increasingly, the importance of _who students are_ is coming into greater relief. Identity is at the center of education. It is the student’s mind, not the institution’s competitive aspirations, that needs attention.

Likewise, teaching must remain a work of self-actualization (a la @bellhooks). When we take our teaching online, do we feel as interested, as invested, as challenged, as engaged, as when we teach on campus?

Have we created an online learning which has self-actualization at its core? What is the goal of online learning? Inclusion? Access? Efficiency? Increased enrollment?

We must look straight at the online learning we’ve created and that we sustain and ask: is it education we are providing? Education with all its texture and nuance and abruptness and creativity.

If the current form of online learning, once we inspect it, doesn’t measure up as parallel in value to on-campus learning, we just take it upon ourselves to revise it, to refuse what is inequitable and imagine something different.

This, and more, is the work I hope to do at @umwdtlt with @Jessifer, that @amcollier and I were after at @Middlebury. It’s what @DigPedLab is for. But this work needs all the voices and collaborators possible. Are you in?"
seanmichaelmorris  digitalpedagogy  criticalpedagogy  education  highered  highereducation  online  college  universities  howweteach  bellhooks  accessibility  inclusion  inclusivity  efficiency  creativity  equity 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Gap Finder | AllTransit
"Enter a location to see where households are underserved by transit.

Public transit is critical to a successful and equitable economic infrastructure. However, even places that have access to transit can include gaps where underserved communities would benefit from improved service. This tool reveals where transit improvements could provide the most impact by highlighting underserved areas where demand is strongest."
transit  transportation  publictransit  maps  mapping  inequality  accessibility  access 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Mathematician Federico Ardila Dances to the Joys and Sorrows of Discovery | Quanta Magazine
"When you came to the United States, as an undergraduate at MIT, it was your turn to feel like the “other.”

It’s not that anybody did anything to mistreat me or to doubt me or to explicitly make me feel unwelcome, but I definitely felt very different. I mean, my mathematical education was outstanding and I had fantastic access to professors and really interesting material, but I only realized in retrospect that I was extremely isolated.

There’s a system in place that makes certain people comfortable and others uncomfortable, I think just by the nature of who’s in the space. And I say that without wanting to point fingers, because I think you can be critical about the spaces that “other” you, but you also have to be critical about the ways in which you “other” other people.

I think because mathematics sees itself as very objective, we think we can just say, “Well, logically, this seems to make sense that we’re doing everything correctly.” I think sometimes we’re a little bit oblivious as to what is the culture of a place, or who feels welcome, or what are we doing to make them feel welcome?

So when I try to create mathematical spaces, I try to be very mindful of letting people be their full human selves. And I hope that will give people more access to tools and opportunities.

What are some of the ways you do that in your teaching?

In a classroom I’m the professor, and so in some sense I’m the culture keeper. And one thing that I try to do — and it’s a little bit scary and it’s not easy — is to really try to shift the power dynamic and make sure that students feel like equally powerful contributors to the place. I try to create spaces where we’re kind of together constructing a mathematical reality.

So, for example, I taught a combinatorics class, and in every single class every single student did something active and communicated their mathematical ideas to somebody else. The structure of the class was such that they couldn’t just sit there and be passive.

I believe in the power of music, and so I got each one of them to play a song for the rest for us at the beginning of each class. At the beginning it felt like this wild experiment where I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I was really moved by their responses.

Some of them would dedicate the song to their mom and talk about how whenever they’re studying math, they’re very aware that their mom worked incredibly hard to give them the opportunity to be the first ones in their family to go to college. Another student played this song in Arabic called “Freedom.” And she was talking about how in this day and age it’s very difficult for her to feel at home and welcome and free in this country, and how mathematics for her is a place where nobody can take her freedom away.

That classroom felt like no other classroom that I’ve ever taught in. It was a very human experience, and it was one of the richest math classrooms that I’ve had. I think one worries when you do that, “Are you covering enough mathematics?” But when students are engaged so actively and when you really listen to their ideas, then magic happens that you couldn’t have done by preparing a class and just delivering it.

Mathematics has this stereotype of being an emotionless subject, but you describe it in very emotional terms — for instance, in course curricula you promise your students a “joyful” experience.

I think doing mathematics is tremendously emotional, and I think that anybody who does mathematics knows this. I just don’t think that we have the emotional awareness or vocabulary to talk about this as a community. But you walk around this building and people are making these discoveries, and there are so many emotions going on — a lot of frustration and a lot of joy.

I think one thing that happens is we don’t acknowledge this as a culture — because mathematics is emotional in sometimes very difficult ways. It can really make you feel very bad about yourself sometimes. You can be pushing on something for six months and then have it collapse, and that hurts. I don’t think we talk about that hurt enough. And the joy of discovering something after six months of working on it is really deep."
federicoardila  math  mathematics  music  combinatorics  teaching  2017  education  inclusivity  inclusion  culture  accessibility  howwweteach  community 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Autistic Education - The Autistic Advocate
""School is like a universe of sensory and overwhelm shoved in a bottle, cork applied and shaken up. Remove the cork and it explodes in your face."

I've never written much about my children, because I firmly believe that their story is theirs to tell, not mine. But what's been happening in the last few weeks directly relates to me and my story, it's especially relevant.

Quinn, my eldest, who is 8, was struggling hugely at school. His teacher was off sick and had been for a while. He was having a supply teacher, who he only describes as 'VERY TALL', in an ominous voice. She must really be tall, Michelle is nearly 6 feet tall so it's not like he's not used to tall women. Or maybe it's because, when you're anxious everyone seems to loom over you and oppress you.

Quinn's Headteacher has taken his class a few times, which Quinn likes, because he's the kind of man who adds a corny joke in every third or fourth line, which appeals to Quinn's sense of humour. He also has another class teacher standing in, who has kind of become a rock to Quinn as she represents the only piece of stability he has at school at the moment.

School had Ofsted inspections in last week, which obviously made the teachers anxious, which probably fed into Quinn's anxious state. It also didn't help that no matter how much we tried to change his mind, he remained convinced that they were there to inspect him, not the school.

School was also off-timetable because it's Christmas. That time of year which absolutely screws up Autistic children and adults. Houses turn into some deranged Madman's idea of Santa's grotto, with Christmas scenes outside made up of a million high powered searchlights, searing into your eyeballs and your soul. The music blares everywhere you go, the same songs on repeat jabbing into your ears, your skull.

Tinsel. Evil, evil tinsel. It glints and winks at you, sparkling in a merrily Christmassy way that can't help but catch your eye, hypnotise you with its twitch inducing, irritating twinkling. Then some evil entity wraps it round you for a 'joke', where it scratches and scrapes at your skin and feels like it's throttling you.

Our house is always little threadbare on decorations beyond a tree.

Bah humbug.

Every year though I do hang up some Mistletoe, which I keep, with my manly, handsomeness, trying to lure Michelle to stand under, but I always end up with Olivia somehow.

Chocolate and milk breath kisses from a four year old.

How delightful...

Sorry, I got sidetracked on the horrors of Christmas. It's pretty overwhelming.

School have been brilliant and supportive as ever, they listen to us, work with us and, more importantly, listen and work with Quinn to make changes to support him as best they can, but it's still affecting him negatively and hugely.

Basically he's all over the place. One morning he had a huge meltdown and ran to his room, slamming his bedroom door.

Immediately there was a crash.

I went running.

I opened the door and there he was in a crumpled heap on the floor.

As he'd slammed his door, his whiteboard (where we write his timetable for the next day and Quinn draws), had fallen off of the wall and landed on him.

Physically, he was fine, but the look on his face utterly destroyed me. His eyes were dull and raw and wet, with huge bags under them, his lip was actually trembling. His world was crumbling around him.

The teacher he worships was gone, along with the safety and comfort she brings.

His routine was all messed up. Routines are part of what keep us Autistic people safe. They are our comfort and our safety net. We cling to them and they help keep us together, because they don't change. Change is hard to process. Change involves reassessing situations and scripts, people and places. Change brings us uncertainty, uncertainty brings anxiety and, oh dear me are we anxious creatures.

In that split second between seeing him lying there and picking the whiteboard off him, what he was going through hit me with a Flashback. I've blocked out a lot of my time at school, mostly due to the constant sensory overwhelm, being surrounded by people i struggled to relate to, the bullying, the isolation, and having to learn in what, to me, was a poisonous environment. I look back at school and beyond certain standout moments there is nothing but black. I look into my mind and most of my school is locked behind the door I described in 'The Inside of Autism'.

This Flashback hit me pretty hard. I actually physically staggered and fell to my knees as I knelt to lift the board off of him. The door in my mind, the door that holds my darkest thoughts and memories, exploded open and overwhelmed me with over an hours worth of memory in a split second:

I haven't done my homework.

I got distracted last night, I was supposed to read a chapter of a book and write a book report, but I read the whole book and then I had to go to bed.

I knew I needed to write the report, I tried to tell Mum, but the words were locked in my head. All I could do was comply and quietly nod and agree with Mum when she asked me to clean my teeth and get into bed.

So I did, I lay there, eyes wide open for hours, wanting to wait until Mum had gone to bed so i could get up and write it.

It got later and longer and longer and later and I must have fallen asleep.

I wake up and already, inwardly I'm panicking, screaming and shouting inside my skull.

I try to follow my routine quicker so I'll have time to write it, but i start forgetting things and have to keep going back. I forgot my sock three times and ended up stuck in a causal loop, staring into space, swaying gently.

My Mum shouts at me again and again and inside, like pushing myself out of thick mud, I feel myself rise to the surface enough to shout "Coming!"

It comes out wrong though, it sounds rude and angry and I didn't mean it to sound that way.

Mum is cross, she's shouting at me, my Dad is lunging up the stars ready to smack me and I'm sat on the bed in my trousers, rocking harder and harder, one sock half hanging off my foot, no shirt.

I haven't done my homework.

My brain seizes up and i explode.

Screaming and crying, just an explosion of noise and outpouring of pain and frustration and it goes on.

And on...

And on...

And on...

And on...

My Dad dresses me roughly as I'm still screaming and carries me out to his van. I quieten during the three minute drive to school.

We pull up outside. We're late.

I haven't done my homework.

Inside, a version of me is screaming to be let out.

Outside, the Mask comes down.

I turn to my Father and ask "Do I look like I've been crying?""

...

"I lay back on the bed, looking at the familiar cracks in my ceiling. Lines i have followed for years whilst waiting for sleep.

I'm so tired. Tired to my bones. I don't want to die, not really, I just want to step out, I've had enough. I don't know another way of doing it though. Nobody sees what I see. Nobody is what I am. Nobody else stands on the periphery of life stuttering and farting and misfiring like Mr Toad's car.

79 tablets sitting in my belly. I can feel them there, slowly dissolving.

I close my eyes. I can feel the softness of the pillow as my head sinks into it.

A lifetime of being separate from everything, disjointed and apart starts to feel different, starts to feel like it happened to someone else...

I think of school again, as I did before I took the tablets. It's still just black, still just a sense of hurting and pain and fear, but it feels distant now, far away. It's a nice feeling.

I feel waves of comfort slowly washing over me, almost as if each wave is a tablet dissolving and disappearing into my bloodstream.

I can hear my clock ticking on the wall, it seems to synchronise with my heartbeat.

I'm relaxed and calm for probably the first time in my life. My head is quiet. The Rolodex of my mind has slowed to a crawl.

I'm floating now. Watching myself lie there. Not screaming now, not trying to fight with my body to get anything out. I'm Mute, but in a good way, because I choose to be.

I'm stepping out.

No more confusion.

No more pain.

No more exhaustion.

No more alone.

I sleep.

Just darkness.

I awake to my alarm

The fleeting calm gone.

I sigh and sit up. I look around the room of a teenager who tried to kill himself and failed, the teenage posters, my books. It all feels a little redundant.

Last night I was leaving.

Last night i was dying and i wasn't scared.

The thought of not having to do this anymore made me happy.

And I failed at happy."
autism  experience  schools  schooling  2018  kieranrose  education  children  accessibility  difference  carolblack  standardization 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Robot Hugs on Twitter: "hey twitter - there's a lot of good awareness now about the fact that all users can add image descriptions to twitter for people who use scr… https://t.co/9E8wJipMaK"
"hey twitter - there's a lot of good awareness now about the fact that all users can add image descriptions to twitter for people who use screen readers. Here's some tips on how to do this well:
(This is my job)

you generally don't have to say 'image of' or 'photograph of'. Just describe what the image is conveying - what the user is intended to get out of seeing it. Some examples:

Tweet: Don't worry TO, It's going to get better soon!!
Unhelpful description: Toronto weather forecast
Helpful description: Forecast for Toronto temperatures, showing -18 Celsius today improving to -1 Celsius by Tuesday.

weet: Tired of going to conferences where the speaker lineup looks like this
Unhelpful description: headshots of featured conference speakers
Helpful: 8 headshots of featured conference speakers that are all white and male
(Don't @ me, this is to demo intent)

Tweet: "U of T's new building has some accessibility issues..."
Unhelpful description: staircase with pillar in the middle
Helpful description: a blind man collides with a large pillar that interrupts a handrail going up the middle of a large staircase

so: Don't overthink it. Make it as short as possible while describing what the photo is trying to convey. Any description is better than no description.

Note: these guidelines are what i use after doing research and consulting with visually impaired users for my work. Opinions on the best kind of description may differ - accessible design is a diverse field! I encourage you to do your own research as well.

oh, in response to a question: It's ok to mention colour if it's relevant to an image! Many screen-reader users are partially signed and use descriptions to clarify blurry/indistinct images. Also folks do understand the concept of colour...

here are some more potential examples because i love you all:

charts are hard! my attempt:
tweet: We have a new prime number and it’s 23 million digits long
Description: graph showing length of known prime numbers over time, starting at under 10 digits 1588 and increasing dramatically since mid 1900s to over 10 million digits in early 2000s

trying to conveying the joke/meaning?
description: dogs outside looking around. one dog is looking suspiciously with narrowed eyes at the picture taker.
(if you see your tweet don't feel called out! It's just an example)

oh! I should amend this - if it's a personal thing you don't have to be impersonal about it! This could read 'my dogs are looking around outside. Ruffles is looking suspiciously at me with narrowed eyes'.

ANYWAYS if anyone wants me to show the kind of description i might add to a particular image or example just @ me and I'll do my best!

i really want to reiterate that for social media in particular, personal/opinion descriptions are ok (as long as they describe the intent of the image!). i might post a selfie with description 'a selfie of me where i think my purple hair looks really cute today'

i think there's a misconception that accessibility always has to be formal and stiff. When doing 3rd party/pro content, it should err on objective, but social media is also an emotion and expressive space and image descriptions can try to capture that

seriously everyone don't stress just do your best. it will become more natural with time, i promise. you're all great!

Good moooorning everyone. I'm going to add a few more notes here based on some questions I got yesterday.

1) people pointed out that I didn't explain how to enable this setting,. My bad! On your computer or device, go to settings and privacy>accessibility and 'compose image descriptions' is an option. There will then be a field when you add an image. (not supported on tweetdeck)

2) the reason you don't need to write 'image of Bart Simpson on a skateboard' is that screen readers already know that there's an image. They typically announce something like 'image: (the description you wrote)", so 'image: image of Bart Simpson' is redundant.

3) You won't see the description after you've added it to an image, but it has become a part of the image info that screen readers see. If you want to see the description attached to an image ("alt text") on an image from your computer...

Chrome/firefox: right click on image, choose 'inspect' or 'inspect element' and the "alt=...' text in the highlighted field will be the description attached.

There are also a bunch of extensions you can add to your browser to make them visible if you want to get an appreciation for how little people actually do proper alt text across the internet and how good you are for trying!

(4) If you want to go even deeper, you can play around with some screen readers! Android has Voice Assistant found in setting > accessibility > vision, and it has a fun tutorial you can work through.

Apple products use VoiceOver. NVDA is also a free screen reader you can install and play around with, and Windows 7 and later have Narrator.

Google any of these for examples on how people use them and how to play around with them!

accessibility is a super rewarding and deep topic, and if you're interested there are tons of resources to check out. But you don't have to be an expert to do your part! Being a thoughtful poster and taking an extra 30 seconds to add descriptions puts you well ahead of the pack."
accessibility  captions  web  online  screenreaders  2018  twitter  images  webdev 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Transparency Society | Byung-Chul Han
"Transparency is the order of the day. It is a term, a slogan, that dominates public discourse about corruption and freedom of information. Considered crucial to democracy, it touches our political and economic lives as well as our private lives. Anyone can obtain information about anything. Everything—and everyone—has become transparent: unveiled or exposed by the apparatuses that exert a kind of collective control over the post-capitalist world.

Yet, transparency has a dark side that, ironically, has everything to do with a lack of mystery, shadow, and nuance. Behind the apparent accessibility of knowledge lies the disappearance of privacy, homogenization, and the collapse of trust. The anxiety to accumulate ever more information does not necessarily produce more knowledge or faith. Technology creates the illusion of total containment and the constant monitoring of information, but what we lack is adequate interpretation of the information. In this manifesto, Byung-Chul Han denounces transparency as a false ideal, the strongest and most pernicious of our contemporary mythologies."
byung-chulhan  books  toread  transparency  accessibility  knowledge  information  capitalism  postcapitalism  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  democracy  society  economics  control 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How Comic Books Can Get Even Better for Dyslexic Readers - Pacific Standard
While the medium is relatively accessible for people with reading difficulties, its lettering norms are still leaving some behind.
dyslexia  comics  graphicnovels  disability  disabilities  2017  lettering  christinero  accessibility  reading 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Education, Neurodiversity, the Social Model of Disability, and Real Life | Ryan Boren
""Great minds don’t always think alike.
To face the challenges of the future, we’ll need the problem-solving abilities of different types of minds working together."
Source: Steve Silberman recommends the best books on Autism

Instead of connecting neurodivergent and disabled kids with an identity, tribe, and voice, we segregate and marginalize them. We medicalize and assess them. We demand their compliance and rarely ask for consent. We define their identities through the deficit and medical models and then tell them to get some grit and growth mindset. We reduce emancipatory tech to remedial chains.

Let’s embrace instead the voice and choice of self-directed, passion-based learning informed by neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and assistive technology. Create a future of education and work where diverse teams use technology to communicate, collaborate, iterate, and launch to authentic audiences of fellow humans.

End the segregation of special. Fix injustice, not kids. Together, we will iterate our way through massive software-driven change. We will navigate disruption with compassion, finding opportunity and inspiration in the diversity of our shared humanity. We are humans making things for and with other humans, helping each other cope with sentience and senescence on our pale blue dot.

To that end, the quotes and resources below provide a primer on neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and design for real life. The social model, for both minds and bodies, is essential to inclusive design. We are responsible for humanizing flow in the systems we inhabit, and we need the social model to do it."
ryanboren  neurodiversity  2016  assessment  disabilities  disability  technology  accessibility  compliance  consent  segregation  marginalization  self-directedlearning  self-directed  compassion  diversity  education  learning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Jonathan Mooney: "The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed" - YouTube
"The University of Oregon Accessible Education Center and AccessABILITY Student Union present renowned speaker, neuro-diversity activist and author Jonathan Mooney.

Mooney vividly, humorously and passionately brings to life the world of neuro-diversity: the research behind it, the people who live in it and the lessons it has for all of us who care about the future of education. Jonathan explains the latest theories and provides concrete examples of how to prepare students and implement frameworks that best support their academic and professional pursuits. He blends research and human interest stories with concrete tips that parents, students, teachers and administrators can follow to transform learning environments and create a world that truly celebrates cognitive diversity."
neurodiversity  2012  jonathanmooney  adhd  cognition  cognitivediversity  sfsh  accessibility  learning  education  differences  howwelearn  disability  difference  specialeducation  highered  highereducation  dyslexia  droputs  literacy  intelligence  motivation  behavior  compliance  stillness  norms  shame  brain  success  reading  multiliteracies  genius  smartness  eq  emotions  relationships  tracking  maryannewolf  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  punishment  rewards  psychology  work  labor  kids  children  schools  agency  brokenness  fixingpeople  unschooling  deschooling  strengths  strengths-basedoutlook  assets  deficits  identity  learningdisabilities  schooling  generalists  specialists  howardgardner  howweteach  teams  technology  support  networks  inclusivity  diversity  accommodations  normal  average  standardization  standards  dsm  disabilities  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease – Transform
"As they got to know one another, the question became: Could Zhang’s tech skills help alleviate Lawton’s loss of writing function?

Certainly, that challenge meshed with Zhang’s passion: technology for good, the idea that society can advance through tech evolution. She’s equally drawn to the Maker movement, a global culture that blends DIY sensibilities with modern engineering, fueling altruistic folks to devise and share innovations that help the world.

Zhang infuses that spirit into her job, innovation director at Microsoft Research Cambridge in England. She’s involved in initiatives spanning the play and health spaces. For example, her team is developing a project called Fizzyo, a connected device for kids with Cystic Fibrosis that turns their daily physiotherapy exercises into a video game experience. She’s also working with colleagues to develop Project Torino, a set of physical blocks that helps children with visual impairments learn computer programming.

Lawton, in turn, saw tangible hope in a woman with a mind bright enough to unsnarl brain complexities and a will strong enough to make a fresh assault on a very old problem. Lawton was also open to trying anything, decrying a lack of new Parkinson’s treatments during her lifetime – as well as medications that can make her days harder by triggering more symptoms.

“Technology is sliding in lately and helping with the symptomatic relief and to make life easier,” Lawton says. “That’s where I’m interested. The whole idea of tech for good.

“But more than anything, I just wanted to be able to write my name properly.”

♦♦♦♦♦

The moment of truth begins with two surprised gasps.

Oooh! Oooh!” Lawton chirps, feeling the watch start to vibrate through her right wrist. She uses her left hand to place a green marker in her right. Then she attempts to draw the first letter in her name. She doesn’t expect it to work.

It does. With the tremors reduced, Lawton pens a perfectly round “e.” The other three letters follow, equally tidy. She cries, something she does when she’s happy. Zhang puts her hand to her mouth and utters, “Oh my God.

“So many things are rushing through my head, all banging around in there,” Lawton recalls later. “Like, is this a one-off? I’m excited and nervous, is it from that? I’m forgetting I have a tremor.

“I look at Haiyan and she’s shell-shocked too. But then I’m panicking: Will it happen again?”

It does. Lawton next draws a straight line. Then a small square. Then a larger rectangle. All are crisp and sharp. The two collaborators hug. Then Lawton phones her mother to report the news – and to tell her the device is officially called “the Emma Watch.” The moment was recorded for a BBC documentary show, “The Big Life Fix.”

“I was in disbelief,” Zhang recalls. “As someone who works in technology and thinks about new kinds of things, I don’t really see the impact of that on people’s lives or on an individual. For me, it was so powerful to see her life made better.”

“To be able to write your name is a basic human right,” Lawton says later. “To be able to do it and do it neatly is really special to me now. It’s empowering. It made me feel that I could do anything.”"

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9Rm-U9havE ]
parkinson'sdisease  health  technology  haiyanzhang  accessibility  disability  tremors  assistivetechnology  emmalawton  disabilities 
october 2017 by robertogreco
🔠 Webfonts, web fonts, web-fonts
"Earlier this month Bram Stein published a book, along with the fine folks at A Book Apart, called The Webfont Handbook and it’s all about how browsers interpret our design choices when it comes to typography. Bram explores what fonts are and how they load, along with the unfamiliar CSS properties that we can use to control them.

You might not care one single iota about fonts or how browsers interact with them, and that’s totally okay, but I think this book is then interesting from two separate angles: web accessibility and good technical writing. First, on the topic of accessibility, one of my favorite sections of this book is where Bram writes about how webfonts can harm the user experience if we’re not careful. By loading too many fonts, for example, and thereby slowing the speed by which the website is requested:
Which matters most to you—conveying your message, or conveying your message in the correct font? In almost all cases, communicating your message matters most. The web is not—or at least shouldn’t be—only for the privileged. Young, affluent people with perfect eyesight using modern devices with high-resolution screens on fast network connections constitute a small fraction of internet users. Don’t forget about the rest.


Later in the book, Bram continues this argument further:
We need to start thinking of webfonts as progressive enhancement instead of expecting webfonts to be a resource that is always available. The baseline experience of your site has always been, and will always be, just plain HTML and CSS. Webfonts enhance that experience. In fact, there’s no guarantee that visitors to your site will see webfonts at all. The Opera Mini browser is used by hundreds of millions of people, and it does not support webfonts. Without you doing a thing, those users are already excluded from using the webfonts you specify.

That means there are two possibilities you should design for: when webfonts are not available, and when webfonts are available.


Accessibility and caring deeply about how webfonts impact the overall design of a website does not make us a gang of old type snobs, instead it makes us good citizens of the web. By thinking about those technical implications we show our care for everyone that visits our small island on the web, and not only the people that happen to look just like us. And every moment that we ignore web accessibility is one where the web becomes more difficult to approach and where we all become a little more isolated from one another.

The second important note that I took away from this book is that technical writing, and writing about code in general, is extraordinarily difficult. It’s tough to know what to teach and when. Not only that but it’s tricky to keep enough concentration and focus to go through each step meticulously so that someone else can follow along easily. This subject leads back to accessibility I suppose, but I can only think of a handful of people that are really good at this sort of technical writing and Bram is certainly one of them."
webdev  webfonts  fonts  html  css  accessibility  communication  robinrendle  bramstein  typography  web 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Y-Fi
"Experience Loading Animations / Screens in wifi speeds around the world. This website was inspired by this conversation I had on twitter. I was home (Nigeria) for a bit before I started work and was annoyed at how long I had to look at loading animations. I wondered how long people wanted to wait around the world screaming.

Notes / How this works

• Data about wifi speeds is from: Akamai's State of the Internet / Connectivity Report.

• I chose countries based on what suprised me and to get diversity across speeds.

• To get most data about loading times, I used a combination of Firefox DevTools and the Network Panel on Chrome DevTools. For Gmail I used this article on Gmail's Storage Quota.

• The wifi speeds and sizes of resources are hard-coded in so you can see them and the rest of the code at the repo.

• Any other questions / thoughts? Hit me up on twitter!"

[via: https://twitter.com/YellzHeard/status/890990574827851777 via @senongo]
omayeliarenyeka  internet  webdev  webdesign  wifi  broadband  nigeria  loading  speed  diversity  accessibility  paraguay  egypt  namibia  iran  morocco  argentina  india  southafrica  saudiarabia  mexico  china  chile  greece  ue  france  australia  russia  kenya  israel  thailand  uk  us  taiwan  japan  singapore  hongkong  noray  southkorea  perú 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Designed lines. — Ethan Marcotte
"We’re building on a web littered with too-heavy sites, on an internet that’s unevenly, unequally distributed. That’s why designing a lightweight, inexpensive digital experience is a form of kindness. And while that kindness might seem like a small thing these days, it’s a critical one. A device-agnostic, data-friendly interface helps ensure your work can reach as many people as possible, regardless of their location, income level, network quality, or device.

The alternative is, well, a form of digital disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement that’s outlined—brightly, sharply—by our design decisions."

[See also: "The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide"
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603083/the-unacceptable-persistence-of-the-digital-divide/ ]
broadband  empathy  internet  performance  kindness  webdev  webdesign  2017  digitalredlining  digitaldivide  us  access  accessibility  inequality  ethanmarcotte 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Road To Resilient Web Design – Smashing Magazine
"In this context, Mobile First is less about mobile devices per se, and instead focuses on prioritising content and tasks regardless of the device. It discourages assumptions. In the past, web designers had fallen foul of unfounded assumptions about desktop devices. Now it was equally important to avoid making assumptions about mobile devices.

Web designers could no longer make assumptions about screen sizes, bandwidth, or browser capabilities. They were left with the one aspect of the website that was genuinely under their control: the content.

Echoing A Dao Of Web Design, designer Mark Boulton put this new approach into a historical context:
Embrace the fluidity of the web. Design layouts and systems that can cope to whatever environment they may find themselves in. But the only way we can do any of this is to shed ways of thinking that have been shackles around our necks. They’re holding us back.
Start designing from the content out, rather than the canvas in.

This content‐out way of thinking is fundamentally different to the canvas‐in approach that dates all the way back to the Book of Kells. It asks web designers to give up the illusion of control and create a materially‐honest discipline for the World Wide Web.

Relinquishing control does not mean relinquishing quality. Quite the opposite. In acknowledging the many unknowns involved in designing for the web, designers can craft in a resilient flexible way that is true to the medium.

Texan web designer Trent Walton was initially wary of responsive design, but soon realised that it was a more honest, authentic approach than creating fixed‐width Photoshop mock‐ups:
My love for responsive centers around the idea that my website will meet you wherever you are — from mobile to full‐blown desktop and anywhere in between.

For years, web design was dictated by the designer. The user had no choice but to accommodate the site’s demand for a screen of a certain size or a network connection of a certain speed. Now, web design can be a conversation between the designer and the user. Now, web design can reflect the underlying principles of the web itself.
On the twentieth anniversary of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners‐Lee wrote an article for Scientific American in which he reiterated those underlying principles:
The primary design principle underlying the Web’s usefulness and growth is universality. The Web should be usable by people with disabilities. It must work with any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and information of any quality — from a silly tweet to a scholarly paper. And it should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.
"
jeremykeith  webdev  mobilefirst  webdesign  design  web  accessibility  mobile  2017  timberners-lee  markboulton  trentalton  ethanmarcotte 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Who Gets to Be a Restaurant Critic? - Eater
"That, however, is just the trouble with standards: They don’t translate well across types of people, or the group divisions that help define those standards in the first place. The tension between haute cuisine and populism, a Times review and Yelp, is about competing ways of deciding what’s good — of whether chips should be fat and soft like in a chippy, or thin and crisp like bistro frites. But when the public discourse around food is so overwhelmingly dominated not just by highfalutin critics, but those who are often white, middle-income, and left-leaning, the assumed standards by which food is judged tend to reflect and replicate exactly those values. If critics these days seem to most value food which presents a vision, highlights the ingredients, or inventively mixes influences, it’s because those are the values of upwardly mobile, culturally omnivorous eaters who believe in conscious capitalism.

This is why the Chicken Connoisseur feels so pleasantly unusual. It checks off all the boxes for what modern food criticism looks like, self-reflexively paying attention to its own status as criticism, but instead of taking you to places with small plates, or omakase, takes you to chicken shops in Hackney or Tottenham or any number of other London areas that haven’t been entirely subsumed by gentrification. Those shops are, in a simple empirical sense, the kinds of places where millions of people eat, but that people concerned with food as signifier of cultural capital would rather ignore — perhaps because such places don’t represent change or novelty, the necessary fuel of the media, but also perhaps because the change they might stand for isn’t considered relevant. In putting a critical vocabulary people were already using into a polished, appealing YouTube show, however, Quashie ends up providing a model for what a food criticism that speaks to a broader, browner, less-wealthy audience might look like. It’s fast food, framed as a product of its place and time, by someone who is winning and funny in front of a camera, and who happens to be young and black. But Quashie also stands as a challenge to all kinds of institutional critics, urging them to grapple with — and take seriously — the things that a majority of people hold dear.

This is, I think, exactly as it should be. When literary criticism moved away from Leavis or the New Critics and started to dabble in feminism or postcolonialism, its emphasis wasn’t simply on the politics of how literature got created or the representation therein. It was also on aesthetics, so Woolf’s feminism wasn’t just in her message, but her prose. Cuisine’s import and relevance isn’t just in “what story a plating tells,” but our culturally loaded expectations about what food should be. Say what you will about four wings for around two dollars, but the demand that they be crispy and spicy is a standard, and one that people care about. At root, it’s a question of what the object and nature of criticism should be: a narrow slice of food that represents the bleeding edge and demands the language of a specialist, or a shifting set of criteria that tackle both the highbrow and the everyday without insisting one is more culturally significant than the other.

************

There is, at the dawn of 2017 — what feels like a decidedly new phase of history — something like a lesson there. In the aftermath of Brexit and Trump, there was a gnashing of teeth over the rise of populism as a transatlantic, if not global, phenomenon. But the attention paid to the gaping distance between the media and great swaths of the country was framed as either a problem to be solved using the same tools people have always deployed, or a thing to be dismissed because of ignorance or racism. When one also considers the boggling number of people who didn’t vote at all, perhaps this new era demands some sort of reckoning with what is popular, common, and reflects how the majority of people actually talk about food.

It is of course true that part of criticism’s function it to both engage in a dialectic with a craft, challenging it to do better, while also calling attention to broader, systemic issues. A food reviewer who only ever judged fried chicken joints without ever calling attention to factory farming or the environment would be in dereliction of their duty. And Quashie does at one point mention that a less-than-stellar wing from a chicken which “did not live a good life” tasted of sadness and suffering. But perhaps the first step is making room for a food criticism that speaks to people where they are, and like all criticism, through standards that they too value and understand.

At the end of Quashie’s first post-fame video, he acknowledges his sudden success — and then squints as an off-camera voice says “Chinese!” It turns out this fave, like any, is problematic. Still, it’s troubling to see talk of ethnic food that has been “elevated” by removing it from its context or, conversely, to see the food that most people eat derisively dismissed, and the Chicken Connoisseur is a rejoinder to both.

In episode 6 of The Pengest Munch — the one that first went viral and now has over 3.5 million views — Elijah Quashie mentions he chewed on a bone in a strip burger, then looks at the camera and says with a smirk, “Bossman: I don’t know wha gwan, but that can’t run. That can’t run fam.” You might also say the same of a food culture that ignores so much of the population, pretending that its own standards are somehow objective, while those of critics like Quashie are not simply arbitrary, but just wrong. If food criticism is to grapple with the populist present, that situation, it seems fair to say, fam, can’t run either."
navneetalang  culture  criticism  foodcritics  foodcriticism  food  2017  populism  elijahquashie  thepengestmunch  accessibility  elitism  everyday  standards  restaurants  howweeat 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist
"The line of thinking behind anti-Comic Sans movements is elitist, belittling, and condescending"



"There are fonts that have been specifically created for people with dyslexia, all of which lack the clean minimalism or elegant balance and perfect kerning favored by typography snobs. But they are crucial disability aids. Some are free, such as Lexie Readable (which calls itself “Comic Sans for grown-ups”), Open-Dyslexic, and Dyslexie. Others are for purchase or are publisher-owned and unavailable to the general public.

But for Jessica, Comic Sans is still the best. “I don’t use Open Dyslexic because it’s not as easy for me to read,” Jessica says. “It’s not my font. I was dyslexic before Open Dyslexic happened. My mind has been getting used to Comic Sans.”"
ableism  comicsans  laurenhudgins  2017  accessibility  elitism  condescension 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Against a "Life Hack" Approach to Art Education | Claudia Ruitenberg - Academia.edu
"This paper critiques de Botton and Armstrong’s Art as Therapy project (2013-2015), a collaboration with art museums in Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia, in which labels in the gallery, as well a catalogue and website, explain how viewers might use works of art to serve therapeutic purposes in their lives. The paper argues that, instead of making art more accessible to those who, allegedly, do not find access to art on their own, the Art as Therapy project undermines the force and richness of art by first declaring it useless and inaccessible and then repurposing it as therapeutic life hack "



"I commend de Botton and Armstrong for their premise that art is not the exclusive preoccupation of the cultural cognoscenti, but can have a bearing on anyone’s life— as long as we’re willing to let it. I also commend them for highlighting that art is not a purely cerebral affair, that works of art do something to us, and that the emotions are involved in this doing. My main criticisms of their approach are that they predetermine what bearing art can and should have, and that they privilege the therapeutic over the aesthetic value of art.

There is an important difference between a life hack approach in everyday life, where household items are repurposed but also retain their original use-value, and a life-hack approach to art, where the practical utility of “repurposed” works offers redemption for purported uselessness. Life hacks typically repurpose discarded or cheap materials; people don’t turn objects they already value into life hacks. de Botton and Armstrong’s message seems to be that art is useless, but that with the help of their commentaries, these useless works can be turned into something viewers can benefit from.

Whatever else art is and does, it offers an aesthetic experience, which is to say that it intervenes in perception (“aesthetic” is derived from the Greek verb aisthesthai, meaning to perceive, sense). This intervention may have various further effects, including therapeutic ones, but art is not useless if its effects are not therapeutic. Art may make us laugh or cry or leave us indifferent. It may disturb or console us, give us nightmares or fits of giggles. It may do this and a whole host of other things—but it does not inherently need or mean to do any of them. When de Botton and Armstrong cite the “art for art’s sake” credo, they dismiss it as saying that art has no purpose. That, however, is not what the credo says. That art is done for the sake of art suggests that art has no purpose other than to be art —and the latter is quite a bit of purpose."
2016  claudiaruitenberg  alaindebotton  johnarmostring  arttherapy  lifehacks  accessibility  artastherapy  inaccessibility  museumeducation  education  aestheticexperience  experience  interpretation  interpretativefreedom  pedagogy  pedagogicalintervention  intervention  freedom  aesthetics  carelpeeters  uselessness  purpose 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Learning Gardens
[See also: https://www.are.na/blog/case%20study/2016/11/16/learning-gardens.html
https://www.are.na/edouard-u/learning-gardens ]

"Learning Gardens is a meta-organization to support grassroots non-institutional learning, exploration, and community-building.

At its simplest, this means we want to help you start and run your own learning group.

At its best, we hope you and your friends achieve nirvana."



"Our Mission

It's difficult to carve out time for focused study. We support learning groups in any discipline to overcome this inertia and build their own lessons, community, and learning styles.
If we succeed in our mission, participating groups should feel empowered and free of institutional shackles.

Community-based learning — free, with friends, using public resources — is simply a more sustainable and distributed form of learning for the 21st century. Peer-oriented and interest-driven study often fosters the best learning anyway.

Learning Gardens is an internet-native organization. As such, we seek to embrace transparency, decentralization, and multiple access points."



"Joining

Joining us largely means joining our slack. Say hello!

If you own or participate in your own learning group, we additionally encourage you to message us for further information.

Organization

We try to use tools that are free, open, and relatively transparent.

Slack to communicate and chat.
Github and Google Drive to build public learning resources.

You're welcome to join and assemble with us on Are.na, which we use to find and collect research materials. In a way, Learning Gardens was born from this network.

We also use Notion and Dropbox internally."



"Our lovely learning groups:

Mondays [http://mondays.nyc/ ]
Mondays is a casual discussion group for creative thinkers from all disciplines. Its simple aim is to encourage knowledge-sharing and self-learning by providing a space for the commingling of ideas, for reflective conversations that might otherwise not be had.

Pixel Lab [http://morgane.com/pixel-lab ]
A community of indie game devs and weird web artists — we're here to learn from each other and provide feedback and support for our digital side projects.

Emulating Intelligence [https://github.com/learning-gardens/_emulating_intelligence ]
EI is a learning group organized around the design, implementation, and implications of artificial intelligence as it is increasingly deployed throughout our lives. We'll weave together the theoretical, the practical, and the social aspects of the field and link it up to current events, anxieties, and discussions. To tie it all together, we'll experiment with tools for integrating AI into our own processes and practices.

Cybernetics Club [https://github.com/learning-gardens/cybernetics-club ]
Cybernetics Club is a learning group organized around the legacy of cybernetics and all the fields it has touched. What is the relevance of cybernetics today? Can it provide us the tools to make sense of the world today? Better yet, can it give us a direction for improving things?

Pedagogy Play Lab [http://ryancan.build/pedagogy-play-lab/ ]
A reading club about play, pedagogy, and learning meeting biweekly starting soon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

[http://millennialfocusgroup.info/ ]
monthly irl discussion. 4 reading, collaborating, presenting, critiquing, and hanging vaguely identity-oriented, creatively-inclined, internet-aware, structurally-experimental networked thinking <<<>>> intersectional thinking

Utopia School [http://www.utopiaschool.org/ ]
Utopia School is an ongoing project that shares information about both failed and successful utopian projects and work towards new ones. For us, utopias are those spaces and initiatives that re-imagine the world in some crucial way. The school engages and connects people through urgent conversations, with the goal of exploring, archiving and distributing collective knowledge throughout this multi-city project.

A Pattern Language [https://github.com/learning-gardens/pattern_language ]
Biweekly reading group on A Pattern Language, attempting to reinterpret the book for the current-day."

[See also: "Getting Started with Learning Gardens: An introduction of sorts"
http://learning-gardens.co/2016/08/13/getting_started.html

"Hi, welcome to this place.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering where to start! Try sifting through some links on our site, especially our resources, Github Organization, and Google Drive.

If you’re tired of reading docs and this website in general, we’d highly recommend you join our lively community in real time chat. We’re using Slack for this. It’s great.

When you enter the chat, you’ll be dumped in a channel called #_landing_pad. This channel is muted by default so that any channels you join feel fully voluntary.

We’ve recently started a system where we append any ”Learning Gardens”-related channels with an underscore (_), so it’s easy to tell which channels are meta (e.g. #_help), and which are related to actual learning groups (e.g. #cybernetics).

Everything is up for revision." ]
education  learninggardens  learningnetworks  networks  slack  aldgdp  artschools  learning  howwlearn  sfsh  self-directed  self-directedlearning  empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  decentralization  transparency  accessibility  bookclubs  readinggroups  utopiaschool  apatternlanguage  christopheralexander  pedagogy  pedagogyplaylab  cyberneticsclub  emulatingintelligence  pixellab  games  gaming  videogames  mondays  creativity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  ai  artificialintelligence  distributed  online  web  socialmedia  édouardurcades  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Discrimination by Design - ProPublica
"It’s likely that as long as humans and their institutions hold prejudices and bias, their designs will reflect them. But some progress is possible. Two decades ago architect Ronald Mace imagined a new standard, in which anything humans make — a new piece of technology, a public park, a household product — is usable by everyone. He called this idea “universal design.” Today it’s an enforceable legal standard in Norway. One way to help us get there? Make sure the design process itself is also accessible to all."
design  discrimination  culture  bias  2016  lengroeger  snapchat  robertmoses  katiezhu  racism  urbanplanning  redlining  industrialdesign  homeless  architecture  bathrooms  kathrynanthony  gender  accessibility  universaldesign  norway  prejudice 
september 2016 by robertogreco
a16z Podcast: The Meaning of Emoji 💚 🍴 🗿 – Andreessen Horowitz
"This podcast is all about emoji. But it’s really about how innovation really comes about — through the tension between standards vs. proprietary moves; the politics of time and place; and the economics of creativity, from making to funding … Beginning with a project on Kickstarter to crowd-translate Moby Dick entirely into emoji to getting dumplings into emoji form and ending with the Library of Congress and an “emoji-con”. So joining us for this conversation are former VP of Data at Kickstarter Fred Benenson (and the 👨 behind ‘Emoji Dick’) and former New York Times reporter and current Unicode emoji subcommittee member Jennifer 8. Lee (one of the 👩 behind the dumpling emoji).

So yes, this podcast is all about emoji. But it’s also about where emoji fits in the taxonomy of social communication — from emoticons to stickers — and why this matters, from making emotions machine-readable to being able to add “limbic” visual expression to our world of text. If emoji is a (very limited) language, what tradeoffs do we make for fewer degrees of freedom and greater ambiguity? How exactly does one then translate emoji (let alone translate something into emoji)? How do emoji work, both technically underneath the hood and in the (committee meeting) room where it happens? And finally, what happens as emoji becomes a means of personalized expression?

This a16z Podcast is all about emoji. We only wish it could be in emoji!"
emoji  open  openstandards  proprietarystandards  communication  translation  fredbenenson  jennifer8.lee  sonalchokshi  emopjidick  mobydick  unicode  apple  google  microsoft  android  twitter  meaning  standardization  technology  ambiguity  emoticons  text  reading  images  symbols  accessibility  selfies  stickers  chat  messaging  universality  uncannyvalley  snapchat  facebook  identity  race  moby-dick 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Color Gradient Reader BeeLine Shows Promise for Speed and Attention in Reading - The Atlantic
"In the era of attention deficits, the new text will not be black and white."



"The colors in this text are rendered in a precise and strategic way, designed to help people read quickly and accurately.

The most important feature is that each line begins with a different color than the line above or below. As Matthew Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, explained it to me, the color gradients also pull our eyes long from one character to the next—and then from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, minimizing any chance of skipping lines or making anything less than an optimally efficient word-to-word or line-to-line transition.

Improving the ease and accuracy of the return sweep is a promising idea for readers of all skill levels. And yet it’s one that’s gone largely ignored in the milieu of media technologies. Today many of us read primarily on screens–and we have for years–yet most platforms have focused on using technology to attempt to recreate text as it appears in books (or in newspapers or magazines), instead of trying to create an optimal reading experience.

The format—black text on white lines of 12 to 15 words of equal size—is a relic of the way that books were most easily printed on early printing presses. It persists today out of tradition, not because of some innate tendency of the human brain to process information in this way.

Meanwhile, people who aren’t especially skilled at intake of text in the traditional format are systematically penalized. People who don’t read well in this one particular way tend to fall behind scholastically early in life. They might be told they’re not as bright as other people, or at least come to assume it. They might even be diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, or a learning disability, or overlooked as academically mediocre.

“The book format was effective, but not for everyone,” said Schneps. “This is not just technology that could help people who are struggling with reading; this is technology that could help a lot of people.”

* * *

Our minds are not as uniform as our text. We all take in information in different ways. Some people read more quickly and retain more information when lines are shorter, or when fonts are bolder, or in different colors. The color-gradient pattern above is rendered by a product called BeeLine, developed by armchair linguist Nick Lum. He got the idea after learning about the Stroop Effect, the famous phenomenon where it becomes difficult to read words like “yellow” and “red” when they are written in different colors. Lum thought, “What if instead of screwing people up, we tried to use color in a way that helps people?”

After he won the Stanford Social Entrepreneurship and Dell Education startup competitions with the idea in 2014, Lum took to developing the technology full time. So far, the response from people tends to be binary: for some it’s a shrug, but for others, particularly people with dyslexias, it’s like turning on a light bulb. As Lum describes it, people tell him “Holy cow, this is how everybody else reads.”

The idea has been well received by reading experts, too.

“Most of the academic research is figuring out entirely what your eyes are going to do on one line,” said psychologist and Microsoft researcher Kevin Larson. “That has been such a challenge that it's rare for anyone to pay much attention to what happens during that line return movement.”

At the University of Texas at Austin, Randolph Bias has studied the optimal length of lines of text for reading comprehension and speed. The two are generally at odds: Short lines make for a quick and accurate return (the movement is easier because it allows our eyes to take a greater downward angle than if the line were longer.) The downside is that because our brains process information during return sweeps, shorter lines don't afford us that time. We also don’t get to take full advantage of peripheral vision – which is key. (He cites this as the problem with Spritz, the reading technology where single words rapidly flash before a reader.)"



"The other big opportunity for the technology is in educational settings. Later this year, BeeLine will be rolling out in libraries across California, as part of a licensing partnership. This is how Lum sees the company growing. The basic Google Chrome extension and iPhone app are free. But large-scale licensing deals with platforms and institutions like school systems could be more lucrative—and make the option accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise think to try reading in color.

In early experiments, some students do seem to benefit from the color gradients. Last year, first-grade students in two general-education classrooms in San Bernardino, California, tried out Beeline, and many did better with comprehension tests afterword. “Because of my background in visual processing, I immediately wanted to check it out,” said Michael Dominguez, an applied behavioral analyst who directs the San Bernardino school district’s special education program. “Based on everything I know, it should work great.”"

[See also (referenced in the article):
http://www.beelinereader.com/
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/ie/2014/03/04/introducing-reading-view-in-ie-11/ ]
howweread  reading  dyslexia  education  cyborgs  adhd  color  text  jameshamblin  kevinlarson  via:ayjay  michaeldominguez  beeline  chrome  browser  browsers  extensions  accessibility  assistivetechnology  microsoft  attention  technology  edtech  nicklum  linguistics  randolphbias  spritz  ereading  kindle  pdfs  epub  pdf 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Vox Product Accessibility Guidelines
"Making work accessible creates a better experience across the board. Use this checklist to help build accessibility into your process no matter your role or stage in a project."



"As journalists, advertisers, producers, and creators, content is at our core at Vox Media. We want to ensure that everyone—regardless of ability, situation, or context—can access it.

This idea inspired us to outline a few guiding principles to help us convey our philosophy on accessibility. We hope these principles can help continue the conversation on why accessibility matters and encourage us to put what we preach into practice.

1. People want to access our content and use our tools; let’s make it easy for them.

We at Vox Media are in the business of producing content that informs our audiences and tools that support our teams, and we need to make it as easy as possible for people to access our work. When we do our jobs well, everyone who wants to enjoy our content and work within our systems can do so. When we don’t do our jobs, we are the ones hindering their access.

2. We should never make assumptions about our users.

Making a product accessible does not mean targeting a specific subset of people. Rather, accessible design, or universal design, is about making products usable by the greatest number of people possible. We should not assume we know how our users are engaging with our content, and should understand that it may be “seen” by a number of assistive technologies, including automated tools, keyboard-only navigation, and screen readers.

In addition, applying universal design principles to our process makes the products better for everyone, and improves the experience across the board.

3. This is where the industry is going. Get on board or get left behind.

Accessibility may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s really just part of doing good work. And fortunately, accessibility practices are here to stay. Accessibility will eventually be a legal requirement for online properties. Investing in accessibility now will ensure that we’re not playing catch up when U.S. laws adapt.

4. Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility.

Accessibility is not a checklist item that only needs to be considered in some projects, or at the end of a process. Rather, these practices should be woven into every step of a project and role in a team. An accessible product stems from everyone on a team owning and shouldering the responsibility. It’s part of our jobs as creators."
accessibility  guidelines  design  via:ethanmarcotte  vox 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Orhan Pamuk’s manifesto for museums
[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/147070033957/a-manifesto-for-museums ]

"Pamuk said: "All museums are genuine treasures of humankind, but I am against these precious and monumental institutions being used as models for the institutions to come. Museums should explore and uncover the population as a whole and the humanity of the new and modern man that emerges from the growing economies of non-Western countries. I address this manifesto in particular to Asian museums that are experiencing an unprecedented period of growth.

The aim of the great state-sponsored museums is to represent a state and that is neither a good nor innocent aim. Here are my proposals for a new museum, some themes on which we must reflect now more than ever.

The great national museums like the Louvre and the Hermitage assumed the form of tourist institutions with the opening of royal and imperial palaces to the public. These same institutions, today national symbols, present the narrative of nation, History with a capital H, as much more important than the histories of individuals. This is a shame, since individual histories lend themselves much better to portraying the depths of our humanity.

The second reflection I want to introduce is that the transitions from palaces to national museums and from the epic to the novel are parallel processes. The epic is like a palace: it speaks of the heroic gestures of the kings that inhabited them. National museums should be like novels, but this is not the case.

Three: we do not need more museums that attempt to construct a historical narrative of our society and community as a narrative of faction, nation and state. We all know that ordinary and everyday stories are richer, more human and above all more joyful.

Four: demonstrating the richness of Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Iranian or Turkish history and culture is out of the question. It must surely be done, and it is not difficult to do. The true challenge is to use museums to tell with the same brilliance, power and depth the stories of the human beings living in these countries.

Five: the measure of success of a museum should not be its ability to represent a state, a nation, a society or a particular history. It should rather be its capacity to reveal the humanity of individuals. We must judge museums on that criterion.

Six: it is imperative that museums become smaller, more orientated towards the individual and more economical. This is the only way that they can ever tell stories on a human scale. The great museums invite us to forget our humanity and to accept the state and its human masses. This is why there are millions, outside the West, who are frightened by museums. This is why museums are associated with governments.

Seven: the aim of museums present and future must not be to represent the state but to recreate the world of individual human beings, the same human beings who have suffered under tyrannical oppression for hundreds of years.

Eight: the resources channelled into the great monumental and symbolic museums should be redirected to small museums that tell the stories of individuals. These resources should also be used to support and encourage people to transform their small houses and small stories into places of narrative.

Nine: if objects are not uprooted from their contexts and streets but situated with care in their natural places, they can have a way of independently telling their own stories. We need modest museums that can honour the streets, houses and shops around them and transform them into moments of their narrative.

In brief, the future of museums begins at home. The situation is very simple: we are used to having epics but what we need is novels. In museums we are used to representation, but what we need is expression. We are used to having monuments, but what we need is houses.

In museums we have History, but what we need is stories. In museums we have nations, but what we need is people. We had groups and factions in museums, but what we need is individuals. We had great and costly museums and will continue to have yet more, especially in Asia, where government money is funding these museums. Yet what we need are small and economical museums that address our humanity.""

[also here: http://en.masumiyetmuzesi.org/page/a-modest-manifesto-for-museums ]
orhanpamuk  museums  museumdesign  small  accessibility  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

"Schools, in general, they are considered as a place to learn to read, to learn to write, to be disciplined. Especially the schools for the youngest, they are the famous place to pre-: to pre-pare for the future, to pre-pare for life, to pre- pre- pre-. Pre-school, pre-reading, pre-writing. To take children to pre-ordained outcomes. Pre-, pre-. It’s time to really cancel pre- because school is not a preparation for life, but life. It is a real, deep important part of your life. […] School is life. […] Life itself is school, but for sure, school is life. And the question becomes more urgent nowadays because we are talking about the role of school in contemporary society. Contemporary that is a digital era, e-learning, everything. And somebody says maybe it's time to cancel schools. Why do we continue to build schools? Why does a society looking at the future have to continue to have a school? […] I think the answers still continues to be that we need to have good schools because they are a fundamental place of education of the citizen and communities. […] Not only a place to transmit culture, but nowadays more than ever a place to construct culture and values. Culture of childhood and culture from childhood. That means that the children are bearers and constructors of elements that can renew the culture. They are our best source for our renewing culture. […] The way in which they approach life is not something that we observe without them in our life, it is an amazing source for renewing our questions and our way of approaching life. They are the source for creativity, for creative thinking. They can be the source for changing the concept of ecological approach, holistic approach. We have to explain [these] to each other. Children know exactly what it means. […] We continue to talk about teaching nature to children. Children *are* nature."
carlarinaldi  2013  education  schools  teaching  sfsh  childhood  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  reggioemilia  children  agesegregation  aborigines  australia  pedagogy  inclusivity  accessibility  competence  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  beauty  humanism  humanity  humans  humannature  self-discipline  thewhy  creativity  trust  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  listening  respect  knowing  relationships  joy  canon  otherness  howeteach  makingvisible  ethnography  welcome  reciprocity  community  interdependence  negotiation  rights  nature  culture  culturemaking  responsibility  duty  duties  authority  rule  freedom  co-constuction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Canadian Museum of Human Rights: a global standard for accessibility
"The Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg, Manitoba was established by an Act of Parliament in 2008 and opened in September 2014 as one of the world’s most accessible museums"



"The result is an in-gallery experience that champions accessibility and usability as parallel experiences. Exceptional features include 120 Universal Access Points (UAP), which have Braille, tactile numbers and “cane-stop” floor strips to alert visitors that information is available on key exhibit highlights. There is inclusive video and audio, a mobile app and innovations such as an Interactive Universal Keypad (IUK) for those who cannot use a Touch Screen Interface (TSI).

The museum has embedded inclusive design features into more than 100 hours of video with American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ) and descriptive audio, which describes what’s happening in a scene as well as reading text that appears on the screen. The keypad, designed by Timpson and tested at OCAD, are located at each TSI interface and have accessible tactile controls, with few buttons for extra simplicity. The voice instructions also work in conjunction with the strict semantic structure of the TSI interface’s content."



"Throughout the design process the museum was able to develop its own standards, which are apparent throughout its 11 galleries and seven theatres. All of the seating in the theatres and exhibits offer a choice of bench seating and seating with backs and arms. As well as this, all of the exhibits adhere to strict graphic standards to ensure content is as accessible as possible. The exhibit fonts were chosen for typographic elements, such as anatomy and letter proportions, which contribute to legibility and clarity. Type sizes and placement were carefully measured and chosen based on probable viewing distances and line of sight for visitors of any physical ability.

Even the finer details such as paragraph alignment and specific line-lengths were studied to help reduce reader fatigue and make the content easier to read. Colour contrast and Light Reflectance Value contrasts were designed to ensure sufficient contrast between the text and background to make text easier to read with different lighting conditions or visual impairments."

[See also: https://humanrights.ca/ ]

[via: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112045150389781152468/posts/JkXHxzyLPS2

"I think I find myself looking to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights at least once each week for inspiration on how to best do inclusive design in museums -- they are definitely the highest standard. If you haven't checked them out yet, I recommend learning more. And see what elements of inclusive design you can begin implementing in your own museum."]
museums  accessibility  canada  humanrights  standards  winnepeg  mnitopa  inclusivity  design  usability  adaptability 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Human scale technology — Medium
[video now here: https://vimeo.com/180044030

"Human-Scale – Beyond user-centered design, we need to create systems that are explicitly and deliberately built to be humane. What does this mean, and is it in conflict with existing corporate structures?"]

"To me, the idea of human scale is critical. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every idea must scale. That thinking is distracting, closes us off from great opportunities, and invites unnecessary complexity.

Turn down the amplifier a little bit. Stay small. Allow for human correction and adjustment. Build for your community, not the whole world.

At this scale, everybody counts. Plus, we get a few other benefits.

Small is simpler. This is good from a pure engineering and design perspective. We strive for simplicity in the structures we build.

Even better, though, small things are more accessible.

You don’t need a full team of fancy Google engineers to build something small. You can be new to programming, or a hobbyist. You don’t have to be born in the right place at the right time to the right parents.

Simpler systems are easier to create, deploy, and maintain.

More people can be the creators and tinkerers, and not just the users.

If you make it small, it’s also cheap to run. You can build a service that supports thousands of people on a $5/month server, or a Raspberry Pi.

So cheap, most likely, that you don’t have to charge anybody for it. With the right architecture, you can run community-size services for less than $10/month, total.

And if this works, we can tackle the issue of incentives.

Not to get all Ben Franklin on you, but if you don’t spend money, you don’t have to make money.

If complexity drops, and cost drops, the community can now build its own systems. Incentives align.

So, it really comes down to this:

Do it yourself. Strip it down. Keep control. Make it for your community. Don’t do it for the money.

And this is where I start to understand what my friend Rebecca Gates means when she says that technologists and designers have a lot to learn from punk and indie rock.

Leave the expensive, large scale, commercial arena rock to Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

We can be The Ramones.

And Bad Brains.

We can press our own records, and run our own labels.

We can make our own spaces based on our own values.

And remember that computing used to be pretty punk rock.

This is the first public computerized bulletin board system, which was set up in a record store in Berkeley in 1973.

In 1974, the year the Ramones formed, Ted Nelson wrote the first book about the personal computer.

It contained perhaps my favorite opening line of any piece of literature: “Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.”

It was basically a giant zine.

We can reclaim autonomy and agency with the incredible tools we have at hand–we just need to approach it differently."
scale  small  accessibility  simplicity  slow  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  punk  design  web  online  community  theramones  badbrains  scrappiness  diy  values  eyeo  eyeo2016  jessekriss  intimate  safe  groupsize  humans  humanism  humanscale  paulgoodman  efschumacher  ursulafranklin  incentives 
june 2016 by robertogreco
my first commencement speech | Abler.
"Congratulations, class of 2016. It’s an honor to be with you. I want to start with a story from candidates’ weekend this past February. As you all know, Candidates’ Weekends are when the applicants for admission who’ve made the first cut come to campus for a full weekend of events—events we design to help us understand them as people. You all did this some four years ago now.

So one thing I did on Candidate’s Weekend was the solo interview session. The setup is three of us: myself, as the faculty member, plus one current student, and one recent alumnus sit together to ask a series of questions of these young people. And—they’re 17, right, so they’re nervous. It’s a profound and moving thing to see up close their quivering hands, their flushed cheeks. We try to set them at ease and to learn something in a short amount of time: about what makes them tick, what they’re passionate about.

And at the end of each interview, as instructed, we allow for questions from the candidates themselves: and they do have questions—about Olin life, or what we like about engineering, things you would expect.

And on that day, these questions from the candidates were indeed more or less the usual fare. With one exception. We asked this one affable young high school student if he had any questions, and without missing a beat, he said, right away, he said: “What’s up with the doors here?” Just like that, totally unself-conscious. What’s up with the doors here? And my interview partners—the student and the alumnus—just *erupted* in recognition and laughter. Because apparently the doors at Olin are notorious among students for their poor design: it has been, for all these years, weirdly unclear whether and where you push or pull. It’s not intuitive where your weight should fall to hold them open. It’s awkward entering and exiting all over campus.

Lots of Olin students have remarked on and complained about this phenomenon, and here was this young person: so immediately alert to the subtlety of this condition in his first weekend here, and brazen enough to call it out.

That guy got in. I checked.

This young hopeful candidate for engineering school had found himself among his people. And I’m happy to say that in the intervening weeks and months since then, somehow some door cues—saying “push here” or “pull” have mysteriously appeared on various handles around campus. Not sure who’s responsible for that, but someone got the message.

Now. That story might seem like just a funny anecdote, but it actually reveals something big, I think, about engineering and engineers. Asking What’s up with the doors is more than an idle observation. I think it indicates a way of being in the world.

A lot of times engineering is framed as a penchant for problem-solving, in various permutations and with various caveats. Problem-solving: that is, skills and knowledge to materially improve the operations of the world. You’ve heard this.

But What’s up with the doors, I think, signals something more profound. It’s the full knowledge that the inherited conditions of the natural and built environment need not be as they are. It’s the understanding that atoms and bits—the material and the digital—these conditions aren’t permanent. They don’t have to remain mysterious. Atoms and bits, bits and atoms: unlocked, un-black-boxed, malleable, contingent.

To understand the systems of the built world is to know, in your bones, something powerful: that things might be otherwise. The doors, the engines, the mechanisms, the software and systems: you all know that these are the results of design decisions that can be reversed, unwound, utterly reconceived. Because you understand how they work. What’s up with the doors underscores that power, and it’s a power that you all now have. We send you out to the world with it. So: it’s a good day.

However. However.

I won’t cheapen this day by offering you a simple victory narrative. If only, IF ONLY the doors of the world were entirely made of wood and steel. If only it were so simple—to make the world better, just using atoms and bits.

Think about the doors of the immaterial kind: the portals, the thresholds, the entry points to human flourishing that are only open to some, and sealed shut for others. These are doors whose pushing open and pulling closed are social, political, interpersonal mechanisms—mechanisms that no amount of physics alone can sway.

In other words: to find yourself equipped as an engineer in the physical, technical sense—to be able to intervene and even dismantle the doors of the tangible, built world—is still to find yourself an ordinary citizen with a much harder set of questions to engage. How do we share this planet? How do we talk to each other, people unlike ourselves? How do we grapple with the legacies of history? How do we build not only the future we can construct, but the just and sustainable future we want to live in, one that includes all of us? To pry open and build these kinds of entrances, you will use your engineering, yes, but you’ll need so much more than that. You’ll need wisdom, and you’ll have to look for it and recognize it far outside of technology.

Be brave with these questions. Keep asking them. See that all kinds of openings and closings are everywhere.

And as you go out from here, know that the doors of this campus remain open to you."
sarahendren  olincollege  commencementaddresses  accessibility  engineering  2016  access  criticalthinking  problemsolving  doors  power  howthingswork  portals  thresholds  intervention  wisdom  technology  politics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Microsoft's Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking | Co.Design | business + design
"De los Reyes wasn’t proposing that Microsoft become a sidewalk company. He was proposing a metaphor. He was hoping to find the digital world’s equivalent of the curb cut, something elegant that let everyone live a little easier. At a meeting of Shum’s top deputies, de los Reyes mooted this idea of making Microsoft’s design accessible to all. On its face, this idea flattered Microsoft’s culture. Remember how Windows famously let you adjust the setting on almost anything you wanted, while Apple didn’t? That wasn’t an accident, but rather the perfect expression of Microsoft’s abiding belief, descended from the great garage-hacker Bill Gates, that users should be able to adjust everything they touched as they saw fit. So for Microsofties, it was only natural to think that users, including the disabled, should have as many settings as they wanted. But de los Reyes was after something more ambitious. Kat Holmes, there at the meeting with Shum, supplied another puzzle piece."



"One of Holmes’ first insights was that she didn’t have to figure out all these problems on her own. Other people already had. After all, real personal assistants think every day about getting their clients to trust them, providing the right information at the right time, being helpful before you’ve been asked. So Holmes sought them out. She found real personal assistants who’d served demanding clients ranging from celebrities to billionaires. By studying how they delicately cultivated trust, Holmes was able to recommend a series of behaviors for Cortana. The best personal assistants have logs about client preferences, but they’re also transparent about why they’re recommending certain things. Thus, Cortana, unlike Siri or Google Now, has a log of all the preference data that it has extrapolated about you, which users can edit. Cortana also behaves like a human would, though she doesn’t quite have a personality: Instead of simply giving you a flippant joke when befuddled by a question, like Siri does, Cortana admits to what she does and doesn’t know. She asks you to teach her, just like a trustworthy personal assistant would.

The point wasn’t simply to copy what those personal assistants did, it was to figure out why they were doing what they did. Instead of tackling a thorny problem head on, Holmes had found an analogue to give structure to what she was doing, to provide a framework for the endeavor.

And then Holmes saw the movie Her, a visionary sci-fi film in which a love-lorn everyman played by Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with a digital assistant voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Holmes wangled her way into a connection with the movie’s production designer, K.K. Barrett, and asked him how he’d come up with such a credible-looking vision of the future—one which, in fact, she’d been working on even as the movie was being shot. Barrett answered with a curveball: He said that to make the technology look futuristic, he’d taken everything out that was technology. His approach was to simply let the director Spike Jonze focus only on what was human. All at once, Holmes saw it: She figured that in trying to understand how computers should interact with humans, the best guide was how humans interacted with humans."



"De los Reyes and Holmes, with the help of design experts including Allen Sayegh at Harvard and Jutta Treviranus at the Ontario College of Art and Design, eventually hit upon a vein of design thinking descended from Pat Moore, and universal design. Dubbed inclusive design, it begins with studying overlooked communities, ranging from dyslexics to the deaf. By learning about how they adapt to their world, the hope is that you can actually build better new products for everyone else.

What’s more, by finding more analogues between tribes of people outside the mainstream and situations that we’ve all found ourselves in, you can come up with all kinds of new products. The big idea is that in order to build machines that adapt to humans better, there needs to be a more robust process for watching how humans adapt to each other, and to their world. "The point isn’t to solve for a problem," such as typing when you’re blind, said Holmes. "We're flipping it." They are finding the expertise and ingenuity that arises naturally, when people are forced to live a life differently from most."



"As promising as these smaller projects might be, Holmes and de los Reyes believe there is a bigger opportunity. Today, we are drowning in interactions with smartphones and devices, such as our cars and homes—all of which suddenly want to talk to our phones as well. We live in a world of countless transitions. Instead of one device, there is actually an infinite number of hands-off between devices. There needs to be a new kind of design process to manage those seams. "The assumptions about computing are that our devices are one-on-one with visual interactions," Holmes points out. "The design discipline is built around those assumptions. They assume that we’re one person all the time."

Holmes believes that inclusive design, by bringing a diverse set of users into a design process that typically strips away differences and abstracts them into what seems user-friendly to the maximum number of people, can actually help with the fact that our capabilities change throughout the day. We don’t simply have a persona, fixed in time and plastered on a storyboard, like most design processes would have it. We have a persona spectrum. When you’re a parent with a sprained wrist, or you’re reaching for your phone while holding your groceries, you share a world, albeit briefly, with someone who has only ever been able to use one hand. "There is no such thing as a normal human," Holmes says. "Our capabilities are always changing."

The hope is that in seeking out new people to include in the design process, we can smooth away the gaps that bedevil our digital lives. Which brings to mind Pellegrino Turri and his typewriter, Alexander Graham Bell with his telephone, and Vint Cerf and email—these were inventors who all started with the disabled in mind but eventually helped everyone else. The difference is that while each of those inventors stumbled upon an analogue that helped them invent something that everyone else could use, Microsoft is starting with the analogues. They're seeking out the disabled and the different, confident that they've already invented exactly the solutions that the rest of us need.

For de los Reyes, the promise of this new design process isn't in just a better Microsoft: "If we're successful, we're going to change the way products are designed across the industry. Period. That's my vision.""
disability  microsoft  design  conversationalui  accessibility  2016  augustdelosreyes  cortana  siri  googlenow  katholmes  ux  ui  interface  juttatreviranus  allensayegh  julielarson-green  albertshum  stayanadella  normal  inclusivedesign  incluive  inclusivity  disabilities 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Claire Volpe
"My name is Claire Kearney-Volpe. I'm an art therapist, researcher, designer and web developer.

I began my Master's of Interactive Telecommunications in the fall of 2013 and I am currently working on my thesis. I am interested in the research and development of helpful and engaging technologies. I am also a firm believer that technology serves people better when they participate in it's design.

Before coming to New York for school, I was a health policy research coordinator in a bustling hospital think-tank. I began making data visualizations, started tinkering with web development and immediately saw the vast potential for these technologies to communicate rich information and promote civic engagement."

[via: https://processingfoundation.org/fellowships

"Claire Kearney-Volpe is an Art Therapist, Researcher, and Designer interested in accessibility, assistive technology, and participatory design. Claire graduated from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and is an Adjunct Professor in the area of assistive tech at NYU and Manager of the the NYU Ability Lab. In addition to mentorship from the Processing Foundation, Claire’s Advisor will be Sara Hendren."]
clairevolpe  clairekearney-volpe  sarahendren  accessibility  via:caseygollan  assistivetechnology  participatory  design  participatorydesign  arttherapy 
march 2016 by robertogreco
When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful | crippledscholar
"The issue here isn’t that the environment isn’t important. It absolutely is but environmentalism has most definitely ignored disability and accessibility. Basically if something is billed as environmental. It is almost certainly inaccessible. Consider the love affair with ogling (though mostly not actually moving into) tiny houses. No micro home is ever going to be wheelchair accessible and many of them depend on loft space accessed by a ladder for sleeping so even ambulatory people with limited mobility can’t use them. They are a popular trend in cutting the carbon footprint though. Downsizing generally is considered the easiest way to become more environmentally friendly. It is however just not really an option for disabled people where additional space and adapted devices are required for daily living.

Far to often if a location heavily touts its low environmental impact, you can assume it’s going to be inaccessible because they are cutting electrical use by not having things like an elevator.

I keep thinking of my stay at the Backpackers Hostel in Toronto several years ago while in town briefly for my sister’s wedding (before I moved here for school). It is touted as being very environmentally friendly. While there the owner bragged about all the environmental upgrades. The thing is you can’t get anywhere in the building without having to go up or down at least one and usually more flights of stairs. Stair that are narrow and pretty steep. I showed up the with my luggage and wearing my AFO so stairs not the greatest. I managed but it was uncomfortable and time consuming. If I was any less mobile than I am, it wouldn’t have been an option and I’d have had to beg family members for money to pay for a hotel (as I had been unemployed for over a year at that point and had spent the last of my money on the plane ticket)

I would love to see containers with prepared food get more environmentally friendly but more importantly environmentalists need to start considering disability and accessibility whether it be in finding more sustainable way to create the products we rely on to accessible sustainable housing. What I don’t want to see is people throwing disabled people under the bus because they’d rather get rid of a product than figure out a way to deliver it sustainably.

Also if your main concern over the peeled oranges was a rage over widespread laziness. Basically anything that benefits lazy people is going to be accessible to some degree so embrace the convenience (or just don’t buy it) and don’t add a level of shame to buying a product that actually makes our lives easier and which in conjunction with other similar products can actually improve our independence and quality of life."
accessibility  environment  disability  access  health  2016  hygiene  disabilities 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Accessible Icon Project
"Why do you think of this project as activism?

It’s easy to look at our icon and assume that it’s a graphic design project. We get a lot of questions about the features of the icon itself and why ours is “better” than any other. But the graphic is actually a very small fraction of the work. As we’ve said from the beginning, the icon has been informally redesigned many times. We weren’t the first to change it. Our project began precisely by noticing the differences among icons already in existence.

Our project is an activist work because we started as a street art campaign, knowing that the mildly transgressive action of altering public property would engage potential media coverage about the legal status of graffiti. We used that media interest in graffiti’s legality to then shape our interviews to our own agenda: the politics of disability, access, and inclusion. Like the artist/activist collective WochenKlausur, we’ve noticed that the most deserving “social goods” stories don’t get nearly the same press coverage as cultural projects (especially where audiences can debate the “cultural” merits of a work!). Disability is subject to the same political invisibility and echo chambers as that of other minority groups, and too much direct activist work around disability is targeted toward people who already think disability rights are important. We wanted ideas about disability to reach a wider public, to be a matter of debate that’s harder to ignore. And in the most successful cases, we got journalists to talk to self-advocates with disabilities who rarely get a microphone for their wishes.

The design of the first graphic itself was also activist in nature—not a new “solution,” at least at the beginning. We debated long and hard about what the icon should look like for the first street sign campaign, and we eventually arrived at the clear-back version, which shows both the old and new icons at once. We knew that it wouldn’t be enough to make a change to a “better” icon. Instead, we wanted to have a graphic that was an enigma, or a question. Sustaining that question—in the form of collaborations, events, writing, exhibitions, and more—has been the activist heartbeat of the project.

Well—? Is it street art? Or is it design?

It’s both. We started as a street art campaign, and that phase of the work is what got us on the radar of likeminded advocates. But eventually people started asking us for a formal new icon, one that would replace old icons wholesale and be a public signal about an organization/school/company’s wish to be inclusive in its practices. That’s why Tim Ferguson-Sauder brought our icon in line with other formal infrastructural symbols you’ll see in public spaces everywhere. Our design is in the public domain, so now it’s used far and wide, in places we’ve never seen or heard about.

When we talk about this work, we’re transparent about the fact that a single project can span a continuum between a new artifact and a new set of conditions. Between ordinary graphic design and design activism. Letting the work live along that continuum allows it to be both an ongoing, long-term activist work and a free artifact that’s useful for simple graphics.

Not everyone is a wheelchair athlete. What about people who don’t push their chairs with their own arms?

Right. We’ve talked about this at length in all of our interviews, and it almost never gets included in the final cut. The arm pushing a chair is symbolic—as all icons are symbols, not literal representations. Our symbol speaks to the general primacy of personhood, and to the notion that the person first decides how and why s/he will navigate the world, in the broadest literal and metaphorical terms. To us, this evokes the disability rights mantra that demands “nothing about us without us.”

I identify as disabled, but I don’t use a chair. Why should that symbol speak for all kinds of accessibility?

It’s certainly an interesting question to consider how other symbols might stand in for or supplement the International Symbol of Access. We’ve spoken to designers about taking up that challenge as a thought project.

But consider the importance of a highly standardized and internationally recognizable symbol. It guarantees that its use will signal the availability of similar accommodations wherever it appears, and its reliable color combination and scale make it easy to spot on a crowded city street, or in an airport. Icons are standardized, 2D, and high contrast for a reason: to make them readily visible to anyone, anywhere. There’s power in that.

It’s just an image. Isn’t this just political correctness? Or: shouldn’t you be using your efforts on something more worthwhile, like real change?

We get this question a lot. And we’re certainly sensitive to one of the pitfalls of design work: an excessive emphasis on the way things look, without attention to other material conditions. From the project’s beginning, we’ve been interested in political and cultural change in the way disability is understood by multiple publics. And we’re aware that many people have been agitating for disability rights through direct activism for many decades.

We see this work as a counterpart to that history of direct action. And we think that symbolic activism—creative practices that are also political—do a work that can be hard to quantify but that also makes a difference. History shows that the shape and form of what we see and hear does work on our cognitive understanding of the world, and hence the meaning we make of it. For good and for ill, governments and institutions and protestors and dictators and individual citizens have long been using the language of symbols to persuade, to question, to force. We want to be on the bottom-up, rights-expanding, power-re-balancing tradition of that history.

So what’s the goal here? Universal sign change?

We’re happy when people write to us that their town or city wants to formally adopt the icon, and from news that politicians officially endorse its use. But success for us isn’t really located in the ubiquity of the icon itself. We want to see the icon stand for funding, rights provisions and guarantees, policies, and overall better conditions for people with disabilities. And we want this web site to track and document the progress of those harder goals.

Don’t you worry that this will be shallow activism, like “sign-washing”?

Sure. This is a big worry for us. Our icon is in the public domain, and that status is important to us. So we can’t really control when it gets used as a shallow glad-handing exercise that has no real political traction. But we’re trying, with this site and the way we speak elsewhere about the work, to emphasize the substantive efforts of people who don’t make the news as easily as a shiny new symbol.

Do you identify as disabled? Are you an ally? Does it matter?

We’ve always had people on our team who identify as disabled, and others of us who are immediate family members or direct co-workers of people who identify as disabled. It matters, of course, that we do this work and any work in disability as a “nothing about us without us” effort. Having said that: allyship also matters, and this project should be seen as one among many efforts to make new connections among new audiences who’ve seen disability as ignorable or irrelevant. We know from experience that we need much, much larger cultural conversations about disability to happen, including among people whose lives disability has not yet politicized.

Wow, you’re opinionated. Anything else you want to say?

A wise adviser told us, some years into this project, that any effort to create new and different forms of access will necessarily close off access of other kinds. We know that a wheelchair icon doesn’t stand for all kinds of ability. We know that our icon is being used in ways we don’t fully endorse. We know that this project’s birth in the US conditions our understanding in a way that’s culturally limited. And we know that we can’t control the journalistic treatment of this story. But the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten from those of you who’ve reached out to us in the last five years is evidence that you see something in this work that you recognize. We hope that’s true for another five and beyond."
accessibility  sarahendren  icons  pictographs  symbols  caseygollan  activism  design  designactivism 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Identity, Power and Education’s Algorithms — Identity, Education and Power — Medium
"Many Twitter users seemed to balk at letting the company control their social and information networks algorithmically. It’s time we bring the same scrutiny to the algorithms we’re compelling students and teachers to use in the classroom. We must ask: how will an algorithmic education also serve to amplify the voices of the powerful and silence the voices of the marginalized? What does it mean to build ed-tech profiles: who is profiled and how? What patterns do the algorithms see? What do they reinforce? What will become “unseen” as these algorithms are opaque? How do some identities and privileges get hard-coded into these new software systems? And who stands to benefit? How will these algorithmic practices actually work to extend educational inequality?"
twitter  audreywatters  2016  algorithms  education  edtech  socialmedia  socialnetworks  teaching  learning  accessibility  voice  power  marginalization  privilege  software  inequality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Laura Savino - Layers 2015 on Vimeo
"Laura helps show us the power of designing for accessibility."
accessibility  design  towatch  laurasavino  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
DIGITAL-MATERIALITY-OF-GIFS
HI, my name is Sha.

I love gifs.

Some of my best friends are gifs. One of my sideprojects is GifPop, a site where people upload gifs to print animated cards.

But that's a longer story.

What I do want to talk about is animated gifs as a design material.

But first off, a quick reminder: no one owns language.

People argue about gif or jif, but it doesn't matter. No one owns language, and even if anyone did no one is a jraphic designer or jraffiti artist.

What i love about gifs are their history and their materiality.

First specified in 1987, the creators later stated in their 1989 revision that "the graphics interchange format is not intended as a platform for animation, even though it can be done in a limited way."

And what a gloriously, gloriously limited way it is.

Animated gifs, whether you are hypnotized by them or nauseated by them, have become a visual language unto themselves, an emotive vocabulary made out of culture.

Gifs are now a medium, and their portability and accessibility to anyone allows for endless remixing and reinterpretation.

Gifs weren't always this way.

We all remember the various under construction or dancing baby gifs from the 90s, and all the bedazzled backgrounds on myspace pages.

The gif spec limits color palettes to 256 colors, and must store the pixels that have changed for every frame of animation.

This makes them very inefficient for rendering or storing entire movies, but has made them nicely equipped to capture the most delicate of moments.

Because gifs can specify an infinite loop, they both break time and increase legibility, creating the beauty we call a reaction gif.

But gifs aren't just about cutting up bits of media.

The inefficiency of the file format and the upload limits of the social networks themselves have created a whole ecosystem of experimentation and juggling around constraints.

In Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg's work, they realized that by isolating movement they could make gifs at a much higher quality than most, and still fit Tumblr's strict upload requirements, creating the style they call cinemagraphs.

Sports editors like @dshep25 have taken this technique even further, taking advantage of controlled camera angels to collapse and collage many similar shots into a single gif, like this one of Lebron James.

Artists of course are leading this exploration.

The work of dvdp and 89-a both explore extremely limited color palettes while using tight loops and large swaths of black to reduce file size.

The work of Nicolas Fong explores this dense looping to a ridiculous extreme, creating hyperintricate animations that evoke the phenakistoscopes of the 1800s.

And we even see the seams of the network in the content that's posted.

On Tumblr, where upload limits are small but multiple side-by-side gifs are permitted, people collage snippets of dialogue together.

On Imgur, the preferred uploader for redditors, upload limits are much higher, enough for entire scenes to be remixed.

Here on Newhive, artists like molly soda take advantage of the support for transparency and collaging to make pieces like this, displaying messages from her Okcupid inbox.

Content like this just explodes, and with attention comes money.

Newer networks like Vine have popped up, creating their own medium of looping video.

These days for every Vine THERE are a dozen competing looping apps trying to capitalize on this meme economy.

But while these advances are exciting, the mainstreaming of gifs is not without its losses.

Tumblr now has a minimum resolution size.

Imgur is now promoting its own videogif format.

Facebook and Twitter have started converting gifs to video by default.

While individually these decisions to decrease file sizes or stop gifs from autoplaying make sense, this desire to optimize as well as commercialize gifs ends up siloing these animations from each other, removing the portability and ease of remixing that makes gifs exciting at all.

Gifs are a dumb, limited file format, and in the end this is why they are important:

They do not belong to anyone.

Because of their constraints they become a design material, to be played with, challenged, and explored. to try and domesticate them would be missing the point.

This was written BY SHA HWANG For a Pecha Kucha talk in Brooklyn and made into a remixable newhive. The ideas are from the internet.

Thank you to animatedtext for creating the amazing title gif. more detailed sources are INLINE ON THE PAGE to the right >>>>>>>>>

[Also at this URL: http://newhive.com/shashashasha/digital-materiality-of-gifs ]
shahwang  gifs  animatedgifs  internet  web  facebook  vine  twitter  fileformats  constraints  art  webart  tumblr  memes  remixing  portability  video  animation  emotions  imgur  okcupid  redit  newhive  phenakistoscopes  dvdp  89-a  @dshep25  cinemagraphs  jamiebeck  kevinburg  history  media  legibility  resolution  reactiongifs  accessibility  1987  1989  gifpop  culture  remixculture  multiliteracies 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Internet Isn't Available in Most Languages - The Atlantic
"Tweet, tuít, or giolc? These were the three iterations of a Gaelic version of the word “tweet” that Twitter’s Irish translators debated in 2012. The agonizing choice between an Anglicized spelling, a Gaelic spelling, or the use of the Gaelic word for “tweeting like a bird” stalled the project for an entire year. Finally, a small group of translators made an executive decision to use the Anglicized spelling of “tweet” with Irish grammar. As of April 2015, Gaelic Twitter is online.

Indigenous and under-resourced cultures face a number of obstacles when establishing their languages on the Internet. English, along with a few other languages like Spanish and French, dominates the web. People who speak these languages often take for granted access to social-media sites with agreed-upon vocabularies, built-in translation services, and basic grammar and spell-checkers.

For Gaelic, a minority language spoken by only two to three percent of the Irish population, it can be difficult to access these digital services. And even languages with millions of speakers can lack the resources needed to make the Internet relevant to daily life.

In September of this year, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, an organization established five years ago to monitor the growth and use of the Internet around the world, released its 2015 report on the state of broadband. The report argues that representation of the world's languages online remains one of the major challenges in expanding the Internet to reach the four billion people who don’t yet have access.

At the moment, the Internet only has webpages in about five percent of the world's languages. Even national languages like Hindi and Swahili are used on only .01 percent of the 10 million most popular websites. The majority of the world’s languages lack an online presence that is actually useful.

Ethnologue, a directory of the world’s living languages, has determined that 1,519 out of the 7,100 languages spoken today are in danger of extinction. For these threatened languages, social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which rely primarily on user-generated content, as well as other digital platforms like Google and Wikipedia, have a chance to contribute to their preservation. While the best way to keep a language alive is to speak it, using one’s native language online could help.

The computational linguistics professor Kevin Scannell devotes his time to developing the technical infrastructure—often using open-source software—that can work for multiple languages. He’s worked with more than 40 languages around the world, his efforts part of a larger struggle to promote under-resourced languages. “[The languages] are not part of the world of the Internet or computing,” he says. “We’re trying to change that mindset by providing the tools for people to use.”

One such under-resourced language is Chichewa, a Bantu language spoken by 12 million people, many of whom are in the country of Malawi. According to Edmond Kachale, a programmer who began developing a basic word processor for the language in 2005 and has been working on translating Google search into Chichewa for the last five years, his language doesn’t have sufficient content online. This makes it difficult for its speakers to compete in a digital, globalized world. “Unless a language improves its visibility in the digital world,” he says, “it is heading for extinction.”

In Malawi, over 60 percent of the population lacks Internet access; but Kachale says that “even if there would be free Internet nation-wide, chances are that [Chichewa speakers] may not use it at all because of the language barrier.” The 2015 Broadband Report bears Kachale’s point out. Using the benchmark of 100,000 Wikipedia pages in any given language, it found that only 53 percent of the world’s population has access to sufficient content in their native language to make use of the Internet relevant.

People who can’t use the Internet risk falling behind economically because they can’t take advantage of e-commerce. In Malawi, Facebook has become a key platform for Internet businesses, even though the site has not yet been translated into Chichewa. Instead, users tack-on a work-around browser plug-in, a quick-fix for languages that don’t have official translations for big social-media sites.

“Unless a language improves its visibility in the digital world, it is heading for extinction.”
In 2014, Facebook added 20 new languages to its site and launched several more this year, bringing it to more than 80 languages. The site also opens up languages for community-based translation. This option is currently available for about 50 languages, including Aymara, an indigenous language spoken mainly in Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Though it has approximately 2 million speakers, UNESCO has designated Aymara as “vulnerable.” Beginning in May of 2014, a group of 20 volunteer translators have been chipping away at the 25,000 words used on the site—and the project is on course to be finished by Christmas.

The project is important because it will encourage young people to use their native language. “We are sure when Aymara is available on Facebook as an official language, it will be a source of motivation for Aymara people,” says Elias Quisepe Chura, who manages the translation effort (it happens primarily online, unsurprisingly via a Facebook page).

Ruben Hilari, another member of the translation team, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, “Aymara is alive. It does not need to be revitalized. It needs to be strengthened and that is exactly what we are doing. If we do not work for our language and culture today, it will be too late tomorrow to remember who we are, and we will always feel insecure about our identity.”

Despite its reputation as the so-called information superhighway, the Internet is only legible to speakers of a few languages; this limit to the web’s accessibility proves that it can be as just as insular and discriminative as the modern world at large."
internet  languages  language  linguistics  2015  translation  insularity  web  online  gaelic  hindi  swahili  kevinscannell  via:unthinkingly  katherineschwab  edmondkachele  accessibility  enlgish  aymara  rubenhilari  eliasquisepechura  bolivia  perú  chile  indigenous  indigeneity  chichewa  bantu  google  kevinsannell  twitter  facebook  instagram  software  computation  computing  inclusivity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Website Obesity Crisis
"Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

The Crisis

What do I mean by a website obesity crisis?

Here’s an article on GigaOm from 2012 titled "The Growing Epidemic of Page Bloat". It warns that the average web page is over a megabyte in size.

The article itself is 1.8 megabytes long."


Here's an almost identical article from the same website two years later, called “The Overweight Web". This article warns that average page size is approaching 2 megabytes.

That article is 3 megabytes long.

If present trends continue, there is the real chance that articles warning about page bloat could exceed 5 megabytes in size by 2020.

The problem with picking any particular size as a threshold is that it encourages us to define deviancy down. Today’s egregiously bloated site becomes tomorrow’s typical page, and next year’s elegantly slim design.

I would like to anchor the discussion in something more timeless.

To repeat a suggestion I made on Twitter, I contend that text-based websites should not exceed in size the major works of Russian literature.

This is a generous yardstick. I could have picked French literature, full of slim little books, but I intentionally went with Russian novels and their reputation for ponderousness.

In Goncharov's Oblomov, for example, the title character spends the first hundred pages just getting out of bed.

If you open that tweet in a browser, you'll see the page is 900 KB big.
That's almost 100 KB more than the full text of The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov’s funny and enigmatic novel about the Devil visiting Moscow with his retinue (complete with a giant cat!) during the Great Purge of 1937, intercut with an odd vision of the life of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ, and the devoted but unreliable apostle Matthew.

For a single tweet.

Or consider this 400-word-long Medium article on bloat, which includes the sentence:

"Teams that don’t understand who they’re building for, and why, are prone to make bloated products."

The Medium team has somehow made this nugget of thought require 1.2 megabytes.

That's longer than Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s psychological thriller about an impoverished student who fills his head with thoughts of Napoleon and talks himself into murdering an elderly money lender.
Racked by guilt, so rattled by his crime that he even forgets to grab the money, Raskolnikov finds himself pursued in a cat-and-mouse game by a clever prosecutor and finds redemption in the unlikely love of a saintly prostitute.

Dostoevski wrote this all by hand, by candlelight, with a goddamned feather."



"Everyone admits there’s a problem. These pages are bad enough on a laptop (my fan spun for the entire three weeks I was preparing this talk), but they are hell on mobile devices. So publishers are taking action.

In May 2015, Facebook introduced ‘Instant Articles’, a special format for news stories designed to appear within the Facebook site, and to load nearly instantly.

Facebook made the announcement on a 6.8 megabyte webpage dominated by a giant headshot of some dude. He doesn’t even work for Facebook, he’s just the National Geographic photo editor.

Further down the page, you'll find a 41 megabyte video, the only way to find out more about the project. In the video, this editor rhapsodizes about exciting misfeatures of the new instant format like tilt-to-pan images, which means if you don't hold your phone steady, the photos will drift around like a Ken Burns documentary.

Facebook has also launched internet.org, an effort to expand Internet access. The stirring homepage includes stories of people from across the developing world, and what getting Internet access has meant for them.
You know what’s coming next. When I left the internet.org homepage open in Chrome over lunch, I came back to find it had transferred over a quarter gigabyte of data.

Surely, you'll say, there's no way the globe in the background of a page about providing universal web access could be a giant video file?

But I am here to tell you, oh yes it is. They load a huge movie just so the globe can spin.

This is Facebook's message to the world: "The internet is slow. Sit and spin."

And it's not like bad connectivity is a problem unique to the Third World! I've traveled enough here in Australia to know that in rural places in Tasmania and Queensland, vendors treat WiFi like hundred-year-old brandy.

You're welcome to buy as much of it as you want, but it costs a fortune and comes in tiny portions. And after the third or fourth purchase, people start to look at you funny.

Even in well-connected places like Sydney, we've all had the experience of having a poor connection, and almost no battery, while waiting for some huge production of a site to load so we can extract a morsel of information like a restaurant address.

The designers of pointless wank like that Facebook page deserve the ultimate penalty.
They should be forced to use the Apple hockey puck mouse for the remainder of their professional lives. [shouts of horror from the audience]

Google has rolled out a competitor to Instant Articles, which it calls Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is a special subset of HTML designed to be fast on mobile devices.

Why not just serve regular HTML without stuffing it full of useless crap? The question is left unanswered.

The AMP project is ostentatiously open source, and all kinds of publishers have signed on. Out of an abundance of love for the mobile web, Google has volunteered to run the infrastructure, especially the user tracking parts of it.

Jeremy Keith pointed out to me that the page describing AMP is technically infinite in size. If you open it in Chrome, it will keep downloading the same 3.4 megabyte carousel video forever.
If you open it in Safari, where the carousel is broken, the page still manages to fill 4 megabytes.

These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies.

The world's greatest tech companies can't even make these tiny text sites, describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast on mobile.

I can't think of a more complete admission of defeat."



"The other vision is of the web as Call of Duty—an exquisitely produced, kind-of-but-not-really-participatory guided experience with breathtaking effects and lots of opportunities to make in-game purchases.

Creating this kind of Web requires a large team of specialists. No one person can understand the whole pipeline, nor is anyone expected to. Even if someone could master all the technologies in play, the production costs would be prohibitive.

The user experience in this kind of Web is that of being carried along, with the illusion of agency, within fairly strict limits. There's an obvious path you're supposed to follow, and disincentives to keep you straying from it. As a bonus, the game encodes a whole problematic political agenda. The only way to reject it is not to play.

Despite the lavish production values, there's a strange sameness to everything. You're always in the same brown war zone.

With great effort and skill, you might be able make minor modifications to this game world. But most people will end up playing exactly the way the publishers intend. It's passive entertainment with occasional button-mashing.

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web.

Pretending that one needs a team of professionals to put simple articles online will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overcomplicating the web means lifting up the ladder that used to make it possible for people to teach themselves and surprise everyone with unexpected new ideas

Here's the hortatory part of the talk:

Let’s preserve the web as the hypertext medium it is, the only thing of its kind in the world, and not turn it into another medium for consumption, like we have so many examples of already.

Let’s commit to the idea that as computers get faster, and as networks get faster, the web should also get faster.

Let’s not allow the panicked dinosaurs of online publishing to trample us as they stampede away from the meteor. Instead, let's hide in our holes and watch nature take its beautiful course.

Most importantly, let’s break the back of the online surveillance establishment that threatens not just our livelihood, but our liberty. Not only here in Australia, but in America, Europe, the UK—in every free country where the idea of permanent, total surveillance sounded like bad science fiction even ten years ago.

The way to keep giant companies from sterilizing the Internet is to make their sites irrelevant. If all the cool stuff happens elsewhere, people will follow. We did this with AOL and Prodigy, and we can do it again.

For this to happen, it's vital that the web stay participatory. That means not just making sites small enough so the whole world can visit them, but small enough so that people can learn to build their own, by example.

I don't care about bloat because it's inefficient. I care about it because it makes the web inaccessible.

Keeping the Web simple keeps it awesome."
pagebloat  webdesign  maciejceglowski  2015  webdev  participatory  openweb  internet  web  online  minecraft  accessibility  efficiency  aesthetics  cloud  cloudcomputing  amazonwebservices  backend  paypal  google  docker  websites  wired  theverge  medium  javascript  advertising  ads  acceleratedmobilepages  mobile  html  facebook  freebasics  jeremykeith  timkadlec  internet.org  facebookinstantarticles  maciejcegłowski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Contrasts in Number Theory - Scientific American Blog Network
"“Respected research math is dominated by men of a certain attitude.” So starts the prologue to The Equidistribution of Lattice Shapes of Rings of Integers of Cubic, Quartic, and Quintic Number Fields: an Artist’s Rendering (pdf), mathematician Piper Harron’s thesis.

The entire prologue is fantastic, so instead of trying to describe it, I might as well quote it.
“Even allowing for individual variation, there is still a tendency towards an oppressive atmosphere, which is carefully maintained and even championed by those who find it conducive to success. As any good grad student would do, I tried to fit in, mathematically. I absorbed the atmosphere and took attitudes to heart. I was miserable, and on the verge of failure. The problem was not individuals, but a system of self-preservation that, from the outside, feels like a long string of betrayals, some big, some small, perpetrated by your only support system. When I physically removed myself from the situation, I did not know where I was or what to do. First thought: FREEDOM!!!! Second thought: but what about the others like me, who don’t do math the “right way” but could still greatly contribute to the community? I combined those two thoughts and started from zero on my thesis. People who, for instance, try to read a math paper and think, “Oh my goodness what on earth does any of this mean why can’t they just say what they mean????” rather than, “Ah, what lovely results!” (I can’t even pretend to know how “normal” mathematicians feel when they read math, but I know it’s not how I feel.) My thesis is, in many ways, not very serious, sometimes sarcastic, brutally honest, and very me. It is my art. It is myself. It is also as mathematically complete as I could honestly make it.

“I’m unwilling to pretend that all manner of ways of thinking are equally encouraged, or that there aren’t very real issues of lack of diversity. It is not my place to make the system comfortable with itself. This may be challenging for happy mathematicians to read through; my only hope is that the challenge is accepted.”

What follows is a math paper, filled with real number theory but written in an informal style, with clearly labeled sections for laypeople, mathematicians who want a general overview of the ideas, and people who want to see some of the gory details. She explains concepts using unicycles and groups of well-behaved children. There are comics about going into labor while writing a thesis. The content of the paper is not easy, but the presentation is entertaining and refreshing.

Harron, whose website is called The Liberated Mathematician, writes, “My view of mathematics is that it is an absolute mess which actively pushes out the sort of people who might make it better. I have no patience for genius pretenders. I want to empower the people.”

Harron has a reluctant maybe blog on her website and has written a great post on mathbabe.org. In both places, she says things a lot of us are afraid to say about the attitudes we feel like we have to pick up in order to fit into the mathematical community. Based on the way her thesis and blog posts have gone through my Facebook and Twitter, I think I’m not alone in identifying with many of the feelings she describes. I certainly felt the same pressure to conform that she felt as a beginning graduate student. As she puts it: “Please tell me the rules I must abide by in order to make no waves!”"



"This is why Harron’s work is all the more necessary. As she writes in her thesis, she wishes to relay to students that “1) you are not expected to understand every word as you read it, 2) you can successfully use math before you’ve successfully understood it, and 3) it has to be okay to be honest about your understanding.” I wish more young mathematicians learned these lessons and weren't afraid to reveal their ignorance.

Another thing I thought was interesting about these two stories is who reported and shared them. My math friends shared the heck out of Harron’s thesis, and I saw more about the abc conjecture from nonmathematicians who follow popular science. This wasn’t a binary thing; mathematicians shared articles about the abc conjecture, and nonmathematicians wrote about Harron's thesis, but for the most part, it was the other way around, at least in what I saw.

I’m not quite sure what conclusions to draw from the way the stories were shared, but it feels important. I think it says something about how mathematicians present themselves allow others to present them. On some level, we want others to put us on a pedestal. We don’t really mind it when someone gets the message “oh, it's too complicated—you wouldn’t understand.”

On the other hand, the strong positive reaction to Harron’s work within mathematics shows that many in the mathematical community are hungry for something different. Even people for whom the status quo has worked (after all, they’re still there) recognize that mathematics loses when we build barriers for some groups of people or encourage people to adopt the “certain attitude” Harron writes about in her thesis.

Does the abc conjecture represent a dying old guard, and does Piper Harron represent the way of the future? I'd guess nothing that dramatic is going on. But mathematicians should think about how they want to explain mathematics and who they are inviting in or leaving out in the process."
math  mathematics  piperharron  2015  thesis  accessibility  gender  approachability 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How To Transform a Traditional Class Into an Engaged One #fight4edu #engagedScholar | HASTAC
"You cannot counter structural inequality with good will.  You must design a new structure with equality at its core.

The banner for our new Group, "The Engaged Scholar," symbolizes our method: learning together, not top down, not with a pre-designed outcome, engaging all of the participants in the responsibilities, design, and direction of the learning in order that we can all have something better--ideally, a more just society--at the end of the process. Engaged, activist, student-centered learning reverses the production model of the Industrial Age university where the professor is essentially in the role of middle-management and the student is the passive consumer. Instead, all participants are actively understanding environment, impediments, desires, outcomes, and designing the best way to achieve those goals together, within the limits that exist, with the resources that exist--and always with an intention to be liberatory beyond prescribed limits and imagined possibilities currently available to the participants.

All of these ideals are embodied by this banner. It's a podium. Its design was led by artist-engineering professor-visionary Sara Hendren (abler.com) who teaches at Olin College, a liberal arts college for engineers, and it was designed and fabricated by students Morgan Bassford, Adriana Garties, Kate Maschan, and Mary Morse. And none of it would have happened without the co-design and inspiration, the desires and demands and wishes and ideas of curator and scholar Amanda Cachia.

The "Alterpodium"--and the people who built it in a visionary new kind of institution of higher education--is a perfect symbol of The Engaged Scholar.

****

Here's the backstory: I met Sara Hendren for the first time on December 1, 2015, at a conference on "Digging Deep: Ecosystems, Institutions, and Processes for Critical Making" on the materiality of culture, the cultural of materials, designed to take us (theoretically and practically) beyond "digital humanities" to really re-imagine a new pedagogy and a new world where we all were, together, creating better theories and practices. Professor Patrick Svensson of Umea University, brought us together at the Graduate Center, CUNY, for this excellent event.

I had the honor of helping to plan and brainstorm Olin College in around 2000 as a new kind of engineering school that is not just about building things but asking, always, the deep questions of why and for whom and for what purpose? One of Olin's mottos: "It's not just what students know. It's what they do with that knowledge." By its charter, Olin College takes as many female as male engineers. It emphasizes collaboration and project-based learning at its finest.

Prof Hendren's role is to teach engineers to rethink disability along with differently-abled people, many of whom have extraordinary abilities that far exceed those possessed by the so-called "able bodied." Her beautiful and smart keynote address at EYEO 2015 makes an excellent introduction to the basic principles of engaged scholarship in any field. The image in our banner symbolizes engagement: behind this object is a theory of learning, a theory of making, a theory of interdisciplinary collaboration, and a theory of expertise and, just as important, a theory of the kind of informed, critical thinking non-experts need to develop to ensure that expertise is deployed wisely. Expertise is not sufficient. The image is one of the objects that Prof Hendren and her students have designed together with its user: it is a lightweight, portable, foldable podium--of the kind that professors stand behind all the time.

This one is unique. It was designed by Olin College students with and for curator and scholar Amanda Cachia who is constantly on the road giving talks and who is constantly confronted with podiums, microphones, and other stage set ups designed for people far taller than her 4' 3" body. The new "Alterpodium" is made of the same high tech carbon fiber used in racing motorcycles and spacecraft. Ms. Cachia unfolds her Alterpodium, slides it behind the dysfunctional (for her) existing podium, and ascends to the right place on the stage.

Alterpodium is an apt metaphor for what teaching and learning should be: it should not be one-size-fits-all. And certainly it should not be one-size-fits-nobody. It should be a way of rethinking the conditions and obstacles that prevent us from doing what we need to do and offering us the means and possibilities to accomplish something more, better, higher.

That is what student-centered, progressive, constructivist, connected learning is. It only happens when learning is not one-direction but multi-directional, a collaboration of teacher and students, with exploration and learning and assessment of what one needs to know paired with the tools, methods, and partners that can help one to know it.

Prof Sara Hendren does this every day with her engineering students at Olin College who are rethinking everything about disability and ability--prostheses, handicap devices, handicap ramps (and skateboard ramps and the Venn diagram of the two), and even handicap signage--an activist project to remind us that disability does not mean we are not mobile, active, and interactive.

She and her students are asking why we start by thinking of "ability" as a norm and standardized and typically make devices that are mechanical substitutes and imitations of those standards? Why is the goal of the prosthetic some million dollar contraption that mimics the look and the movements of a biological part that may be missing or non-functioning rather than asking what a person really wants or needs to function better in whatever way "better" means for that person?

These are the questions that every educator, at every level, should be asking in every classroom. As Judith Butler and disability activist Sunaura Taylor ask in "Examined Life," a very beautiful video about our different abilities: don't we all need assistance of some kind or other? Aren't we all learners? Isn't that the fundamental question about life and society? Do we or do we not live in a world where we assist each other?

If we decide we do want to live in a world where we assist each other, we must get over the idea that "expertise" is a thing or a condition or an outcome and the prof has it and the student's job is to gain it through a series of trials resulting in a diploma. We need to realize, instead, that learning is lifelong. And that in every space--including in the classroom--there are different things about which different people are experts.

Prof Hendren notes that, at some point, as she is prodding her engineering students to ask harder and harder questions and produce more and more useful and sophisticated and innovative devices, they far exceed her knowledge and expertise. At that point, they have to trust her questions and she has to trust their answers--and their ability as responsible co-learners to, among themselves, apply the highest standards of excellence to their collective project. That only happens if, as students, they have taken on new responsibilities and have fully absorbed the mission of living in a world where we assist one another.

Sara Hendren calls this becoming a Public Amateur. It's something every professor should aspire to.

And it is not easy. Giving up expertise and the status of the expert is one of the most difficult things for anyone to do--especially for the successful person. And yet, once you do, you realize whole worlds open.

If you want to find out some easy ways how--we'll be working on more complicated ones next semester--join us on next week, onsite or online. The information is below. We look forward to seeing you! "
cathydavidson  sarahendren  pedagogy  engagement  2015  hastac  equality  inclusion  inclusivity  accessibility  access  alterpodium  sunaurataylor  judithbutler  astrataylor  ability  ablerism  olincollege  constructivism  learning  howweteach  amandacachia  activism  liberation 
december 2015 by robertogreco
From Digital Divide to Language Divide: Language Inclusion for Asia’s Next Billion — Words About Words — Medium
"Thinking through language divides in online platforms and what we can do to reduce them"



"New Internet users who don’t speak majority languages will likely be unable to participate in global Internet culture and conversations as both readers and contributors; as Mark Graham and Matthew Zook have noted, minority languages speakers, especially those from the global south, will experience substantial information inequality online (Young, 2015). Indeed, people’s inability to speak English can significantly afect their very adoption and use of the Internet, even if they are aware of its existence (Pearce et al., 2014)."
anxiaomina  2015  language  languages  inclusion  internet  web  online  accessibility  kevinscannell  stevenbird  aikuma  translation  meedan  socialmedia  twitter  linguistics  katypearce  power  english  scotthale  technology  edbice  digitaldivide  asia 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How to make websites more accessible for people who are deaf - Home | Spark with Nora Young | CBC Radio
"This time on Spark we're looking at designing for connection, learning and accessibility. But what does accessibility online look like? Joe Dolson is a web developer who specializes in accessible web design.

Here's the audio and a transcript of Joe's conversation with Nora Young below."
deaf  deafness  accessibility  websites  webdev  norayoung  webdesign  internet  online  2015 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Zero Rating: A Modest Proposal | Many Possibilities
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/671018395161128960 ]

"Imagine a world where all phones were automatically connected to the Internet, at no charge. Is this an idle fantasy?

The current worldwide debate about Zero-Rating and Network Neutrality has brought the issue of affordable Internet access into sharp relief. I recently came back from the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil where there were no less than seven sessions on Zero Rating and Network Neutrality. Internet.org, now renamed as Free Basics, continues to be a subject of often emotional debate as to whether it brings greater benefits or harms to those who use it.

This has got me thinking about how we value the Internet and how fast the Internet needs to be in order to qualify as ‘enough’. In one of his sessions at the IGF, Vint Cerf pointed out that we use the word Internet as if it meant the same thing to everyone but this isn’t really true. A feature-phone user browsing the Internet via Opera over a 3G connection does not have the same experience as the San Francisco-based developer on gigabit fibre staring at his/her dual 26 inch monitors.

The “all bits are created equal” debate in Network Neutrality doesn’t really take into account our varied experiences of Internet. On a personal level, it is clear that some bits are more valuable to us than others. A one or a zero that indicates whether your loved one is alive is worth infinitely more than four gigabytes of the latest Hollywood movie.

This leads me to question the assumption, implicit in most national broadband strategies, that the value of Internet increases more or less proportionately with increase in speed. The reality is that even very tiny amounts of data can be enormously valuable and that the value of access goes up dramatically with even a little access and then tapers off.

From a value maximisation perspective then one might conclude that it is more strategic to make a priority of ensuring that everyone has at least some connectivity as opposed to some percentage of the people getting fast Internet.

This got me thinking about the spread of mobile telephony in sub-Saharan Africa. The Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) model implemented by mobile network operators (MNOs) meant that it didn’t cost any money to be part of the network. All phones with a SIM card automatically register on the network and are callable on the network. A credit on the network is not required. Why has this turned out to be a such a phenomenally successful model? Because MNOs recognised that each and every person connected to the network added value to the network whether they made a call or not because they increased the size of the callable network, thereby increasing value to paying users. This phenomenon is known as network effect and while it may have been a somewhat esoteric concept twenty years ago when the mobile industry started, it is now well understood by any Internet entrepreneur.

Registering and managing non-paying customers on the phone network is a significant operational and financial overhead for MNOs, especially now with mandatory SIM registration being more common. Connecting phones to the network for free has obviously proven to be worthwhile. The increase in size of the overall network also helps to transform those non-paying users into paying ones as they see more and more value from the increased number of people to connect to. It is a positive cycle.

This brings me back to an approach I suggested last year: low-bitrate, generic zero-rating. What if it were normal for all MNOs to offer low-bitrate, generic Internet access in the same manner that all MNOs connect phones to their network? Let’s imagine that Internet data were enabled by default for free at GSM (2G) speeds of only 9.6kbps to all users. Let’s also imagine that it is a best-effort service that might not always achieve that speed or may have terrible latency, a bit like real 2G service.

A million users consuming 2G at a modest 4.8kbps would consume about 4.8gbps per second of capacity. Looking at the adult population of South Africa of roughly 35M people, if everyone were consuming that data on their phones at one time, it would amount to 168 gbps of capacity across the entire country. Let’s put this in the context of South Africa’s undersea fibre optic cable capacity, which currently has an aggregate design capacity of 17 tbps, soon to reach 22 tbps when the ACE cable lands. Free 2G data for all would consume less than 0.01% of the design capacity of the international submarine cables landing in South Africa.

That is a very rough and inevitably flawed calculation. It doesn’t take into account whether the existing mobile networks could handle this capacity with their current spectrum allocations and technology. It also doesn’t take into account backhaul limitations where terrestrial fibre is not available. But we do know that MNOs are actively investing in upgrading their networks, which would make this amount of data an increasingly small percentage of their network traffic. But the value to individuals would not diminish. Generic low-speed zero-rating of mobile networks could have multiple impacts. It would:

• Spur adoption of data services. As Clay Shirky has so eloquently put it, “If things are expensive to try, people will hold back from trying them and they’ll spend all their time trying not to fail. If the cost of experimentation falls though, and I mean falls precipitously, then people will spend a lot of time experimenting, and instead of not failing, the goal becomes to fail informatively to learn something from the things you tried.”

• Legitimise data as a means of government/civic communication. If everyone can access basic data services just by having a feature/smartphone, then it is easier to justify government investment in e-services.

• Decrease the digital divide. Democratising access to data through free low-bitrate access would create a true on-ramp to the Internet and its vast diversity of services and interactions.

• Open up vast new markets to data service providers. The network-effects of millions of new data users would dramatically increase the value of data services in general.

• Spur innovation in low data consumption applications. If you know that you can reach *everyone* at a very low speed, it would spur both the public and private sector to develop applications that consume less bandwidth in order to reach more people. Indeed Facebook is already doing this with their application development.

I’ve asked you to imagine a world where mobile phones connect to the Internet in the same way that they simply connect to the mobile phone network, where there are no data charges for very low data speeds. On the surface at least it would seem that the benefits to both the public and private sector would dramatically outweigh the costs of doing this. If we accept that the value of access is not directly proportional to speed of access and that there is huge value in even small amounts of data access, then perhaps a national strategy ought to focus on getting everyone connected at a modest, free rate as opposed to say 80% of the people at say 2Mbps?

It will take more detailed cost modelling to really dig into this idea but I cannot help but think of more consumer benefits at every turn. Even for globe-trotting travellers. Imagine being able to pick up basic text messages and emails as soon as you get off the plane in a new country without having to search for a WiFi hotspot or wonder whether you dare turn on roaming. Always-on mobile data could open up new possibilities for mobile payment services.

Some operators like T-mobile in the US already offer 2G roaming but only for postpaid customers. What if it just made good social and economic sense to have basic rate Internet enabled for all mobile phones?"
zero-rating  freebasics  facebook  affordability  access  accessibility  internet  web  online  mobile  stevesong  2015  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
NANJIRA: Free Basics may promise free Internet, but what about - Blogs | Daily Nation
[via: "Watching "free internet" play out. This from @NiNanjira in Kenya: http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/blogs/free-internet-freedom-create/-/620/2975634/-/f6hgvx/-/index.html "

https://twitter.com/janchip/status/670868878541520896 ]

"In this era of the knowledge economy, powered by Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), the significance of the Internet -- economically, socially and politically -- is unmissable.

In Kenya, the Internet has served to enhance cohesion, in fits and starts. Kenyans from various parts of the country can exchange their experiences and perspectives via online platforms.

Through the Internet, we now have multiple sources of information, and stories that may not gain mainstream media attention can find audience on social media.

The Internet has enabled e-commerce, innovation, entrepreneurship, learning and so much more. As with any good, the internet often comes the bad and the ugly - all of which calls for balanced perspectives.

One of the great policy and governance questions of today and the future is how to provide Internet to all of humanity. Approximately 3.2 billion, or 40 per cent of the world’s population is connected, but many more are yet to be plugged into this global resource.

This has driven many, both in the public and private sector, to brainstorm and propose solutions to connect the “next billion” Internet users - most of whom are in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Since the unconnected also happen to be those bearing the heaviest burden of inequalities, the idea of making Internet access free for them has gained traction.

Facebook, the most popular social media platform in the world, is at the fore of efforts to bring the Internet to the developing world.

In 2013, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, launched Internet.org, which aims to “bring Internet access and the benefits of connectivity to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have them.”

At face value, this effort does sound commendable, but as is often said, the devil is in the details.

ZERO RATING

Last week, Facebook and Airtel announced they would be providing free Internet to Kenya’s rural areas. To many, this is good news. Inch closer, however, and you find one of the most contentious issues in internet governance today.

Facebook’s version of a “free Internet” is advanced via Free Basics, which offers a range of free services on the Facebook-created platform.

Initially, the initiative had pre-selected services such as news sites, sports, weather and health apps, but has since opened up the platform for anyone whose application meets the technical specifications, key among them being zero-rating.

Zero-rating is a practice that enables mobile customers to download and upload online content without incurring data usage charges or having their usage counted against data usage limits. It is intended to minimise cost of access to the Internet, and is practiced in various forms.

The zero-rating we see at play in Kenya, for instance, consists entities like Facebook and telecommunications companies making parts of the Internet available for citizens to choose from.

TWO KINDS OF ‘FREE’

We see this in the partnership Facebook has with Airtel Kenya, and with the Unliminet package offered by the latter. It can be argued, therefore, that many more Kenyans can now access social media, but the Internet is more than social media platforms.

While it may attract more Internet users in the short term, this kind of zero-rating has been argued to be untenable in the long term, especially for local content creators and even consumers.

With Free Basics, Facebook decides which publishers and developers to allow on the platform, while reserving the right to reject them. Not to mention, it is unclear what community standards are upheld on Free Basics; for instance, how people report inappropriate content (services are not rejected on the basis of Facebook’s Community standards).

This places Facebook as a ‘gatekeeper’, something that has generated backlash in places like India.

The idea of a free Internet is compelling, but warrants scrutiny. ‘Free’ can go two ways, the no-cost-to-the-consumer approach or the freedom approach, where freedom on the Internet is upheld; freedom to choose what to consume, freedom to create, freedom to compete.

The free Internet being dangled our way is the former, and it is problematic for a couple of reasons. For one, if something is free, you are likely the commodity or product.

WHO GETS TO DECIDE

The currency for many Internet companies is data. In the absence of sound data protection policies, your consumption data can be traded by these entities for lucrative amounts.

Also, this approach skews the perception of what constitutes the Internet. This idea of a ‘free Internet’ is also sparking debate in developed economies.

The “spirit of the Internet” is that it enables all users to connect, create, consume and correct content. It facilitates a many-to-many communication, which is considered a democratising factor, and a disruptor of traditional modes of information flow which were predominantly of a one-to-many form.

Even as we connect the next billion users, we must aspire to retain this spirit, in the infrastructure and policies adopted. While “some Internet is better than no Internet at all”, we have to be vigilant about what constitutes ‘some’, who gets to decide on the ‘some’ and why they get to decide on others’ behalf."
facebook  freebasics  2015  nanjirasambuli  accessibility  internet  web  online  data  access  zerorating  kenya 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Taking Free Basics in Kenya for a spin. — Hacks/Hackers Africa — Medium
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/669071409851707398 and https://twitter.com/whiteafrican/status/669017213572145152 ]

"I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. At my organisation, we believe in having user experience at the heart of consumer-facing technology. Also, I’ve heard many a Facebook exec counter the backlash with a valid question: how many advocates (for/against) have actually used Free Basics? So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I dug out my Airtel Kenya SIM card (Airtel is the current sole partner) and took the app for a spin. (For the record, I’m testing out Free Basics on a Smartphone — a Samsung Galaxy S3 to be precise, will also test out on a feature phone in coming days)."



"Facebook have been saying that at least 50% of Free Basics users have crossed over to the open and paid-for Internet within 30 days of coming online for the first time. Having pushed a bit further on the stat recently, one of their Heads of Policy said that they stay on the paid Internet, though this isn’t part of the popular narrative on the conversion rates. Who else, other than Facebook, has access to these statistics? Giving the benefit of the doubt, say the statistic is actually true. What norms about what the Internet is, does Free Basics (un)willingly postulate? Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t create a two-tiered Internet and refers to the above statistic. They also say that without such a program, more people are left offline, unable to realise the benefits of the Internet.

We all want as many people, if not all to be connected. But the idea of a ‘free’ Internet is a particularly nefarious one, leaving room for loopholes such as these, and actually creating various tiers to Internet access. This has been compared to tiered access to water and education. While some may say that some water or education is better than none, why is it that there are different forms to access? So some Internet is better than none at all (especially for the developing world). But, what constitutes ‘some Internet’? Who decides on what ‘some Internet’ is, and why are they the ones to decide?

There are many arguments packed into the zero-rating, net neutrality and Free Basics discussions, and it wouldn’t do justice to pack them into one article. I will try to tackle the various domains, from my perspective, in future posts.

Would love to conduct this exercise with first time Internet users. Currently thinking through the research design, to enable unearthing of insights on the Internet they aspire to access, versus versions such as Free Basics issued. For now, I welcome discussion and feedback on the above, and perhaps others to take Free Basics on a spin in their respective territories! After all, advocacy for a free(as in freedom), open and secure Internet will require evidence and not mere opinion."
freebasics  facebook  accessibility  internet  nanjirasambuli  2015  africa  access  online  web  kenya  smarthphones  mobile  connectivity  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin on the Sacredness of Public Libraries | Brain Pickings
"In a 1997 speech celebrating the renovation of Portland’s Multnomah County Library, Le Guin writes:
A library is a focal point, a sacred place to a community; and its sacredness is its accessibility, its publicness. It’s everybody’s place.

After an affectionate time-travel tour of the formative libraries in her life, Le Guin considers the universal gift of the free public library:

Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.

[…]

Plunging into the ocean of words, roaming in the broad fields of the mind, climbing the mountains of the imagination. Just like the kid in the Carnegie or the student in Widener, that was my freedom, that was my joy. And it still is.

That joy must not be sold. It must not be “privatised,” made into another privilege for the privileged. A public library is a public trust.

And that freedom must not be compromised. It must be available to all who need it, and that’s everyone, when they need it, and that’s always.
"
ursulaleguin  libraries  freedom  community  accessibility  publicness  knowledge 
november 2015 by robertogreco
ARIA - Accessibility | MDN
"Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) defines ways to make Web content and Web applications (especially those developed with Ajax and JavaScript) more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, ARIA enables accessible navigation landmarks, JavaScript widgets, form hints and error messages, live content updates, and more.

ARIA is a set of special accessibility attributes which can be added to any markup, but is especially suited to HTML. The role attribute defines what the general type of object is (such as an article, alert, or slider). Additional ARIA attributes provide other useful properties, such as a description for a form or the current value of a progressbar.

ARIA is implemented in most popular browsers and screen readers. However, implementations vary and older technologies don't support it well (if at all). Use either "safe" ARIA that degrades gracefully, or ask users to upgrade to newer technology."

[via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/656533517015359488 ]
accessibility  webdev  webdesign 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Hidden Burden of Exoskeletons for the Disabled - The Atlantic
"“We’re at a cultural moment where young people who are going into technology are looking around for research where they can feel purpose,” says Sara Hendren, an artist, designer, and researcher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who specializes in assistive-design projects. When they encounter assistive technologies like prosthetics and exoskeletons, she explains, they think they’ve found something that seems like pure good.

“But the problem is that patients are so marginalized from defining their own wishes, that you risk replicating that same top-down assumptions about what people want.” Hendren uses cochlear implants as an example: Inventors assume that a person must want to hear, because they can’t imagine another possibility—but in reality, the Deaf community is quite vibrant, and not everyone feels the need for an implant.

Hendren points out that that putting too much focus on these kinds of devices can also create the idea that there is a “successful” disabled person: that someone who can use an exoskeleton to walk, or a prosthetic limb to run, has succeeded more than someone who cannot. “I worry that an excessive focus on this technology risks romanticizing bootstrapping and overcomer stories,” she says. “I don’t want to diminish what they do, but I don’t want to live in a world where there’s a continued repulsion around dependence. I want to live in a world where it’s okay to ask for help.”

Exoskeletons aren’t the only project that illustrates this issue. Hendren remembers a person who suggested that those in wheelchairs could perhaps carry their own ramps around in case they want to go somewhere that isn’t wheelchair-accessible. Aside from the fact that different settings require different ramps, these sorts of solutions put the onus on the individual to make something usable, rather than on the community. Why should each wheelchair have to come with a toolbox in order to be able to get anywhere?"
sarahendren  disability  2015  design  accessibility  prosthetics  exoskeletons  deaf  deafness  difference  wheelchairs  ramps  technology  bootstrapping  overcomers  dependence  assistance  assistivetechnology  disabilities 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Notes on Design Activism | The Accessible Icon Project
"What is design activism?

Design activism uses the language of design to create political debate. Instead of solving problems in the manner of industrial design, or organizing forms as in graphic design, activist design creates a series of questions or proposals using artifacts or media for unresolved ends: to provoke, or question, or experiment in search of new political conditions. The point of these artifacts is contestation, not a tidy fix.

We’re inspired by design activism like ACTUP, Kissing Doesn’t Kill, or any number of historical street art political campaigns.

Why do you think of this project as activism?

It’s easy to look at our icon and assume that it’s a graphic design project. We get a lot of questions about the features of the icon itself and why ours is “better” than any other. But the graphic is actually a very small fraction of the work. As we’ve said from the beginning, the icon has been informally redesigned many times. We weren’t the first to change it. Our project began precisely by noticing the differences among icons already in existence.

Our project is an activist work because we started as a street art campaign, knowing that the mildly transgressive action of altering public property would engage potential media coverage about the legal status of graffiti. We used that media interest in graffiti’s legality to then shape our interviews to our own agenda: the politics of disability, access, and inclusion. Like the artist/activist collective WochenKlausur, we’ve noticed that the most deserving “social goods” stories don’t get nearly the same press coverage as cultural projects (especially where audiences can debate the “cultural” merits of a work!). Disability is subject to the same political invisibility and echo chambers as that of other minority groups, and too much direct activist work around disability is targeted toward people who already think disability rights are important. We wanted ideas about disability to reach a wider public, to be a matter of debate that’s harder to ignore. And in the most successful cases, we got journalists to talk to self-advocates with disabilities who rarely get a microphone for their wishes.

The design of the first graphic itself was also activist in nature—not a new “solution,” at least at the beginning. We debated long and hard about what the icon should look like for the first street sign campaign, and we eventually arrived at the clear-back version, which shows both the old and new icons at once. We knew that it wouldn’t be enough to make a change to a “better” icon. Instead, we wanted to have a graphic that was an enigma, or a question. Sustaining that question—in the form of collaborations, events, writing, exhibitions, and more—has been the activist heartbeat of the project.

Well—? Is it street art? Or is it design?

It’s both. We started as a street art campaign, and that phase of the work is what got us on the radar of likeminded advocates. But eventually people started asking us for a formal new icon, one that would replace old icons wholesale and be a public signal about an organization/school/company’s wish to be inclusive in its practices. That’s why Tim Ferguson-Sauder brought our icon in line with other formal infrastructural symbols you’ll see in public spaces everywhere. Our design is in the public domain, so now it’s used far and wide, in places we’ve never seen or heard about.

When we talk about this work, we’re transparent about the fact that a single project can span a continuum between a new artifact and a new set of conditions. Between ordinary graphic design and design activism. Letting the work live along that continuum allows it to be both an ongoing, long-term activist work and a free artifact that’s useful for simple graphics.

Not everyone is a wheelchair athlete. What about people who don’t push their chairs with their own arms?

Right. We’ve talked about this at length in all of our interviews, and it almost never gets included in the final cut. The arm pushing a chair is symbolic—as all icons are symbols, not literal representations. Our symbol speaks to the general primacy of personhood, and to the notion that the person first decides how and why s/he will navigate the world, in the broadest literal and metaphorical terms. To us, this evokes the disability rights mantra that demands “nothing about us without us.”

I identify as disabled, but I don’t use a chair. Why should that symbol speak for all kinds of accessibility?

It’s certainly an interesting question to consider how other symbols might stand in for or supplement the International Symbol of Access. We’ve spoken to designers about taking up that challenge as a thought project.

But consider the importance of a highly standardized and internationally recognizable symbol. It guarantees that its use will signal the availability of similar accommodations wherever it appears, and its reliable color combination and scale make it easy to spot on a crowded city street, or in an airport. Icons are standardized, 2D, and high contrast for a reason: to make them readily visible to anyone, anywhere. There’s power in that.

It’s just an image. Isn’t this just political correctness? Or: shouldn’t you be using your efforts on something more worthwhile, like real change?

We get this question a lot. And we’re certainly sensitive to one of the pitfalls of design work: an excessive emphasis on the way things look, without attention to other material conditions. From the project’s beginning, we’ve been interested in political and cultural change in the way disability is understood by multiple publics. And we’re aware that many people have been agitating for disability rights through direct activism for many decades.

We see this work as a counterpart to that history of direct action. And we think that symbolic activism—creative practices that are also political—do a work that can be hard to quantify but that also makes a difference. History shows that the shape and form of what we see and hear does work on our cognitive understanding of the world, and hence the meaning we make of it. For good and for ill, governments and institutions and protestors and dictators and individual citizens have long been using the language of symbols to persuade, to question, to force. We want to be on the bottom-up, rights-expanding, power-re-balancing tradition of that history.

So what’s the goal here? Universal sign change?

We’re happy when people write to us that their town or city wants to formally adopt the icon, and from news that politicians officially endorse its use. But success for us isn’t really located in the ubiquity of the icon itself. We want to see the icon stand for funding, rights provisions and guarantees, policies, and overall better conditions for people with disabilities. And we want this web site to track and document the progress of those harder goals.

Don’t you worry that this will be shallow activism, like “sign-washing”?

Sure. This is a big worry for us. Our icon is in the public domain, and that status is important to us. So we can’t really control when it gets used as a shallow glad-handing exercise that has no real political traction. But we’re trying, with this site and the way we speak elsewhere about the work, to emphasize the substantive efforts of people who don’t make the news as easily as a shiny new symbol.

Do you identify as disabled? Are you an ally? Does it matter?

We’ve always had people on our team that identify as disabled, and others of us who are immediate family members or direct co-workers of people who identify as disabled. It matters, of course, that we do this work and any work in disability as a “nothing about us without us” effort. Having said that: allyship also matters, and this project should be seen as one among many efforts to make new connections among new audiences who’ve seen disability as ignorable or irrelevant. We know from experience that we need much, much larger cultural conversations about disability to happen, including among people whose lives it’s not yet politicized.

Wow, you’re opinionated. Anything else you want to say?

A wise adviser told us, some years into this project, that any effort to create new and different forms of access will necessarily close off access of other kinds. We know that a wheelchair icon doesn’t stand for all kinds of ability; we know that wheelchair access isn’t perfect. We know that our icon is being used in ways we don’t fully endorse. We know that this project’s birth in the US conditions our understanding in a way that’s culturally limited. And we know that we can’t control the journalistic treatment of this story. But the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten from those of you who’ve reached out to us in the last five years is evidence that you see something in this work that you recognize. We hope that’s true for another five and beyond.

—Sara Hendren, 2015"
design  designactivism  activism  2015  sarahendren  disability  ablerism  actup  accessibility  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Still Water blog · Personal Touch: Joanne McNeil on Digital Intimacy
"The Thoma award is intended to “promote understanding of digital art,” and it’s easy to see why the jury chose McNeil for this mission. Neither fanboy nor pedant, she puts thoughts into words that are clear yet nuanced, unencumbered by the jargon that weighs down so much scholarship.

Many of her essays pivot on a concrete detail: a broken iPhone screen, a photo of the Eiffel tower, an unlikely 3d puzzle available on a Chinese ecommerce site. These grains of digital texture aren’t haphazard observations, floating by like Facebook posts about a delicious breakfast or pretty sunset. They are tiny gateways to understanding the unseen forces busily automating society, unseen because they are too vast to grasp except on a global scale, or because they are too intimate to experience except subliminally. Forces surveyed in McNeil’s essays include Twitter algorithms that encourage stalking and automated birthday notices that turn anniversaries into occasions for harassment.

Among my favorite essays is “iPhone Dreams,” precipitated by McNeil’s discovery of a website displaying imagined renderings of what was soon to become the Apple phone. The site compiles unofficial mockups that ordinary artists and designers concocted in October of 2006, shortly after news broke that Apple had struck a deal with a phone company. Unlike the elegant touchscreen slab that Apple would eventually unveil, these clunky, button-cluttered prototypes look more like iPods–or even Princess phones–revealing how our imaginations can be shackled to the past. (The first tractors were equipped with leather reins so farmers could get used to steering them.) Despite its ostensible critique of tech forecasters and Apple groupies, “iPhone Dreams” ends in a confession of infatuation by the author as well. When she eventually gets her hands on the real phone, she brings it to sleep with her, concluding, “I have to remember to put it down.”

McNeil’s confessional tone can be infectious–it gives us readers permission to consider whether we’ve felt parallel digital dreads or desires. But her confessions have a purpose beyond titillation or gossip. She reminds us that the feminist adage “the personal is political” also applies to personal computing, whether in an essay written with Astra Taylor on the industry’s historically inaccurate bias towards the mansplaining “Dads of Tech,” or in a remark on how search engines have changed the meaning of the word “search,” whose original connotation of longing has been demurely expunged to leave only the objective act of research.

The latter insight comes from her catalogue essay for the exhibition “Touch To Feel,” in which McNeil astutely notes how gestural interfaces like tablets and smartphones have similarly consigned touch, our most carnal sense, to the role of a pragmatic intermediary:

The word ‘touch’ is likewise recalibrated, with a focus on the motion of touching rather than sensing the texture of something. The uniformly smooth surface of a ‘touch interface’ has no friction. Touch is never the point of a digital experience, not the way that code is written for us to hear or see. We touch surfaces that do not tug back or prick our fingers. We touch to alter images, to turn the volume down. We touch to engage other senses.

It’s tempting to blame digital tools for stripping away the sensuous meanings of these formerly hot-blooded verbs. Is there a deliberate corporate agenda here, to refocus our erotic attention on nouns that can be bought and sold–like the facts returned by a Google search, or the iPhone we cozy up next to in bed? McNeil doesn’t sermonize on this point; she opens the door and lets us walk through on her own. She has, as we say, a light touch.

We need more writers who can draw our attention to the intimate dimensions of the gadgets that have cozened their way onto our wrists and into our pant pockets. Enough of my mansplaining–go read her yourself."
joannemcneil  writing  nuance  digital  astrataylor  technology  2015  newmedia  jonippolito  experience  jargon  scholarship  academia  accessibility 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Open Door Isn’t Always Open | Practical Theory
"“I have an open door policy.”

It sounds great, right? Who could argue with it? But you have to ask a very important question: who isn’t coming in?

As educators, we can convince ourselves that an open door policy is working because kids are coming in. I had a teacher say to me recently that her policy of working with kids who came for extra help was working because there were always kids coming to her for extra help. I asked her about a student who was struggling, and she told me that he never came for extra help. I asked her, “Do you ever ask him to come?”

“I tell all the kids about extra help every day,” was the answer.

Some students need to be invited to come for extra help. Some students need to be told that the teacher wants to see them. That individualized attention where a student feels the personal investment of a teacher is invaluable.

And more than the personal, there’s a sociopolitical aspect to this as well. Often times, children come to school with the ghosts of the experiences their parents had in school. So there are reasons beyond the obvious – sometimes – for why a child may not come for extra help. They may not trust the teacher. They may view that help as “punishment.” They may have been taught that they shouldn’t “need” help. They might just want to run around at recess. There are any number of reasons that might keep a child from walking through that blanket-policy open door.

So when we examine our policies – especially those that center around how we make sure that every student gets the support they need – we have to not be satisfied with inviting everyone in. We have to understand that caring for children means making the time to make the individual invitation as well – to make sure each and all children know that we are there for them."
accessibility  listening  availability  teaching  education  chrislehmann  2015  welcome  opendoorpolicy  helpfulness  presence  support  howweteach  patience  invitation 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Can You Hear What I’m SayingPeri Himsel | Interfictions Online
"Spotlight 1

In 1988, Gallaudet University elected another hearing president. The students of Gallaudet believed that the time had come for a deaf person to run the university for the deaf and hard of hearing—they created the Deaf President Now protest movement. The DPN movement eventually received national recognition and support, becoming the first time the struggles of the deaf community had been acknowledged on such a massive scale.

It changed the way the hearing looked at the deaf. In the years following, it urged an increase of new laws and bills that promoted rights for the deaf and disabled."



"Breaking Bad

Though he got comparatively little screen time on Breaking Bad, Walter (Flynn) White Junior was a complex character with cerebral palsy. He had thoughts, feelings and storylines that did not revolve around his disability. He suffered to be seen as cool by his peers and later from the emotional turmoil and anger over the reveal that his father was a psychotic meth king all along.

The actor, R.J. Mitte, also has cerebral palsy, though a milder case."



"Passing

I took off my hearing aids around the age of thirteen. Just before I stopped going to the audiologist, there was some talk of me being a good candidate for the cochlear implant. I considered but in the end, I didn’t want to them to slice my head open. I didn’t want to be shackled to a piece of metal and plastic I could never take off. I didn’t want to be always stuck in a weird limbo of just barely hearing things. I could never be fully hearing and I didn’t want to pretend.

Pity

Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1987 for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God. In the movie, her boyfriend, James Leeds (played by William Hurt), is listening to music then shuts it off. He tells Matlin’s character, who is deaf, that he feels bad listening to this music because she can’t. This is one of the few scenes in which Matlin’s character does not express rage and resentment towards this hearing man with all his assumptions of the deaf that he has carried throughout the entire film. Rather, she nods and smiles placidly.

This is the point in the movie where I stopped caring for her character."



"Accessibility

When I started watching Doctor Who, like anyone, I wanted to become the Doctor’s companion and travel around in the TARDIS. In retrospect, I’m not really sure how that would work out. The TARDIS is supposed to translate all known languages for the Doctor and his companions but there’s never been a deaf companion (or a deaf character for that matter). Would the TARDIS make it look like everyone around me was signing? Would she put captions that would float in the air above them? Would she translate their words and just implant them in my head? What about other sounds for that matter? At this point, does the TARDIS just become a glorified, advanced technology interpreter?


Labeling

I don’t really consider myself disabled. To me, I am deaf. But then I have to tell them I need an interpreter for this class, captions for this movie, a script for this radio show. That I need something that these other people don’t. Then I must say, yes, I am disabled."



"Lucky

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me “you’re lucky you’re deaf right now,” I would have paid off my college loans years ago.

Inspiration

August 30, 2012: S.E Smith, a woman with a disability, publishes an article concerning the Paralympics and perceptions of disabilities called “Disabled People Are Not Your Inspiration.” In this piece, she discusses how disabled people, especially Paralympics competitors, are used too often as “inspiration porn”: there’s an assumption that disabled people live horrible lives, which makes their basic everyday actions inspiring to others. It’s a harmful attitude because “people who insist that we’re so inspiring are turning us into objects, not people…you’re saying we need to be singled out as remarkable because of our disabilities, and it pushes us further to the margins.” 4

Naïve

There was this girl in my sociology class in my sophomore year in college. One day, towards the end of the semester, as I was leaving class, she stopped me and handed me a note. I read it as I walked down the hallway. She told me, in this note, that she found me inspiring because I woke up every day, came to class, and functioned with my disability. Attached to it, she had taped a candy bar, the way one would try to bribe a three year old. For the rest of the semester, I never looked at her again.


Experience

I made the mistake of reading the comments on S.E. Smith’s article. Most were angry, either annoyed at feeling they were “not being allowed to be inspired” because they had never been disabled themselves, or enraged, listing people they had known who had “faced and overcome adversity” as if this somehow made them a better person.

Maybe we didn’t read the same article."



"Censorship

After being sued by the National Association of the Deaf in 2011, Netflix releases a statement in 2012 that they will caption all of their content by 20145. However, they don’t take into account the accuracy of their captions. In an open letter to Netflix in 2013, Sam Wildman, hard-of-hearing, weighs in on the problem of censorship within captions:

“But if someone says “Kill that motherfucker!” then shouldn’t everyone be able to have the same shocked reaction to the word ‘motherfucker’ as anyone else? Why should people using subtitles be spared? Alternatively, why should they be deprived?” 6

Half Life

Half-Life 1, a science-fiction first person shooter video game, came out in 1998. I used to watch my brother play, controlling the main character Gordon Freeman as he attempts to survive the fallout of a bad science experiment in the Black Mesa facility. When I finally got a chance to play, I knew how to beat every level. Half-Life 1 didn’t have captions. I had a fragmented idea of the story for the most part, until I managed to find the script online. Towards the middle of the game, deep in the tunnels of Black Mesa, the Hazardous Combat Unit soldiers fighting Gordon scrawled a message on the wall.

It reads: Give Up, Freeman."
perihimsel  deafness  deaf  disability  2015  accessibility  labeling  closedcaptions  netflix  videogames  gaming  disabilities 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Designing for touch, reach and movement in post-war English primary and infant schools | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"
Clothes quickly pile up on the desks as children busily undress for the dance lesson. The first to change are soon by the door, ready to make their way to the hall, their bare feet wriggling impatiently in their shoes for the moment when they can kick them off and spring on to the hall floor. On the way along the corridor the bodies bustle and an animated walk threatens to break into running ... Once inside the hall, a line of shoes immediately appears under chairs lined up along the wall and swift bare feet dart and prance in lively stepping and jumping. Some rush across the space exhilarated by the feel of air against their faces, some pluck their feet off the floor in hops and leaps, and others swing wide their arms in unrestrained gesture which sweeps them high onto their toes, or pulls them into an off-balance suspension that dissolves into the slack of a downwards spiral. Soon the teacher calls for the classÕs attention and the lesson begins." (McKittrick, 1972: 11)."

Introduction

In his seminal work, About Looking, John Berger (1980) succeeded in opening up new avenues of critical discussion focused on visual texts and the impact of such on their makers and audiences. Ways of Seeing reminded us that seeing comes before words and that the infant looks and recognizes before it can speak (Berger, 2008 front cover). Seeing comes before speaking, but touching is a necessary part of understanding, while movement affords freedom and enables choice. As Raymond Tallis has eloquently established, the pointing finger is a fundamental sign of the human mind in the exercise of its powers of observation and discernment (Tallis, 2010). Together, the sense of touch, the facility of reach and the act of movement imply living fully. It has been long noted that the first sense experienced by infants in exploring the world is touch (Charlton Deas 1913-26 in Grosvenor & MacNab 2013). The sense of touch has been examined by scholars in relation to a range of perspectives involving teaching and learning including object lessons (Keene 2008) and tactile engagement in the context of visual impairment (Grosvenor & McNab 2013). Outside of schools, the sense of touch has been used as a lens to appreciate and explore the experience of learning in museums (Chatterjee 2008; Classen 2005; Pye 2008). The principal anatomical parts involved in touch - the fingers and the hand - have been subjected to critical and creative scrutiny within cross-disciplinary discussions about what it means to be human (Napier 1993; Tallis 2010). In a previously published article (Burke & Cunningham, 2011), I explored with Peter Cunningham the significance of hands as part of what might be called the choreography of the classroom. In that piece we noted how the relationship between the hand and cognitive function has been well established and recognized by teachers and others (Sennett 2008). We also noted how ‘critique of how children were encased in unsuitable or uncomfortable school furniture… (was) characteristic of progressive educational discourse during the first half of the 20th century’ (Burke and Cunningham, 2011: 538).

Few scholars have so far paid critical attention to the ways that designers of school buildings have incorporated into the design process notions of bodily movement. One exception is found in the work of Roy Kozlovsky who has examined how interpretations of movement in the primary school environment engaged post-war architects in England. Consideration of the significance of rhythmic movement shifted their metaphorical conceptualization of the eye of the pupil from a technical apparatus to an organic association as a living muscle ‘that requires its own cycle of concentration and relaxation’ (Kozlovsky, 2010: 707). In this paper, I will extend a focus on the sense of touch to embrace the attributes of reach and movement exposed by a close reading of Building Bulletins reporting on English primary school building design during the period 1949-72. The rationale for this is found in the discourses fueling the drivers of educational redesign in post-war education when ‘reach’ became associated with an idea of the child enabled to exercise powers of freedom and self-expression. I will demonstrate how the imagined exercise of touch, reach and movement evidences an understanding, shared among architects working for the Ministry of Education in the post-war government, of how the body of the school child mattered in the transformation of education towards the design of the modern school and the nurturing of the modern citizen (Stillman and Castle-Cleary, 1949). Through an analysis of the content of a series of Building Bulletins, published by the Ministry of Education (later Department of Education), I will show how, for architects, the imagined use, place and disposition of body parts in close (often touching) proximity to the material environment of school, informed their thinking and featured in their planning. Building Bulletins reported on the design of school buildings in general and on certain particular aspects, such as colour or furniture."



"Sensory contexts of touch, reach, and movement

So what, in conclusion, can we say about this scrutiny of the discourse around touch, reach and movement in the Building Bulletins published in the period 1949-72? First, the findings clearly demonstrate how close was the vocabulary of touch, motion and emotion shared by progressive educators and architects during these years. Feeling (touching) the material environment through an imaginary identification with a young child, was a strategy of design. The material — designed — environment of education was perceived as a key pedagogical force in an education which emphasized the role of the senses. This is well captured in the following statement by Alec Clegg, CEO for the West Riding of Yorkshire during these years (1945-74).
'Children learn mostly from that which is around them and from the use of the senses. These impressions so gained will depend a great deal on interests that will vary considerably. If children are interested they will listen more carefully, look more closely and touch more sensitively. With interest there is created the element of wonder, the most precious element of life' (Sir Alec Clegg, 1964).

Close observation of children's active engagement with the material environment they encountered through their skin, limbs and whole bodies was characteristic of educational and architectural discourses regarding the most appropriate contexts for teaching and learning at this time. Second, observable by its absence in the Building Bulletin's commentary on touch, reach and movement is the figure of the school-teacher, within a systematic approach to designing from the body of the child outwards. This sits easily with the progressive image of the school as discussed through visual evidence from iconic school environments in this period (Burke and Grosvenor, 2007). Finally, in examining the imagined settings for touch alongside notions of scale and reach in the context of the built environment, we are forced to address questions of comfort and discomfort, agency and non-agency. In this analysis, the sense of touch leaves its anchor of materiality and comes to appear essential to affording a sense of belonging, allied to a notion of rights to participate in an imagined democratic community."
catherineburke  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  schools  schooldesign  multisensory  education  children  learning  progressive  howwelearn  howwteach  teaching  pedagogy  environment  touch  reach  movement  motion  emotion  alecclegg  johnberger  furnitue  color  architecture  design  scale  bodies  body  furniture  christianschiller  materials  difference  accessibility 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Michael O'Hare for Democracy Journal: Museums Can Change—Will They?
[See also Suzanne Fischer’s response to my tweet quoting the article"
https://twitter.com/publichistorian/status/600095808797614080

and this interview:
http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/05/michael_ohare_o.html ]

"Our great art institutions are cheating us of our artistic patrimony every day, and if they wanted to, they could stop."



"I tell my students, and only somewhat flippantly, that arts policy is the most important policy arena. Seriously? Well, most people think health policy is right up there—but why live longer if life isn’t worth living? And if you don’t think government has a lot to do with whether and how you can engage with art, you just don’t understand the situation.

Think about a world in which our great paintings and sculpture are mostly on view instead of where they actually are, which is mostly locked up in the basements and warehouses of a handful of our largest museums. In which you didn’t have to go to one of a half-dozen big cities to see them, and didn’t rush through an enormous museum for a whole day because you paid so much to get in. In which you weren’t constantly afraid that you aren’t entitled to what you see, or competent to engage with it. That world is actually within reach, and the main reason we don’t have it is that the people to whom we have entrusted our visual arts patrimony have nailed each other’s feet to the floor so they can’t move toward it, and done so with the tacit approval and even collaboration of government.

Big museums have long refused to recognize their unexhibited collections of duplicates and minor works as a financial resource. As a consequence, they are wasting value by keeping these works hidden. If they were redistributed to smaller institutions, and even to private collectors and businesses, they would fund an explosion of the value for which we have museums in the first place: people looking at art and getting more out of it when they do.

The story will wind its way through accounting rules, professional ethics, and tax policy, but we can start right in a museum. This is such a conventional ritual that it requires conscious effort to realize how many things about it could be different, and maybe should be. Let’s do a field trip and look around!"



"Merely invoking technology or shoveling out more information can easily miss the mark; success is also a matter of attitude and empathy. When I worked in a museum, I had some troubling epiphanies, like the time the curator of a quarter-mile of decorative arts galleries, full of chairs with ropes across them and nowhere for a visitor to sit, interrupted my staff meeting presentation about seating to say, “Mike, I don’t know why we’re spending time on this; if I want to sit down, I can go to my office. I don’t need chairs in the galleries!”

I still remember being infuriated by the label on a pair of metal devices in a vitrine, etched in my memory as “Pair of objects for striking fire, with three lines of Qu’ranic script. They are beautifully made and invite our touch.” Okay, I’m an engineer and a shade-tree mechanic. You have my interest: How do you strike fire with them—hit them together? Rub? Did they hold flints? Do you use them together, or one at a time? What is “Qu’ranic script”—a calligraphic style, like Kufic? Is it a pedantic way to write what hoi polloi call “lines from the Quran”? And I understand why they’re under glass, but why, Mr. Curator, are you rubbing it in that you can touch them and I can’t? “Education” like this may be well-meaning, but it is inept.

I also had some eye-opening moments, such as when a curator would walk me through his galleries and just talk to me about the art. It’s really breathtaking how interesting these folks can make their stuff, and no, you don’t get it by reading their published work, or from the labels they write, or from the audio guide; it only happens when they aren’t looking over their shoulders at their peers and showing off how erudite they are. Everyone can’t have that kind of personal engagement, of course, but could we give every visitor something like it? I don’t want someone talking in my ear when I’m watching a play or listening to a string quartet, but this can happen right in front of a painting—what an opportunity!

As a visitor, I keep encountering missed opportunities and misfires, usually resulting from an insouciant unconcern for what would really enrich the experience for a typical visitor—that is, a visitor a museum should want to make repeated visits. The big David Hockney exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young Museum that I saw last year was full of the artist’s experiments with synchronized videos, iPad drawing, and the like, mostly well-documented and explained. But it also included Hockney’s 30 riffs on Claude Lorrain’s “Sermon on the Mount”—with no image of the Lorrain anywhere to be seen. Not educated enough to bring it up in memory, I had to find it on the Web on my phone. No, the original of 1656 is not copyrighted. The unspoken message is, if you don’t have the Lorrain original in your head, you’re not really qualified to be here. A few months later I ran into the original at the Frick, where it would have benefited greatly from association with a couple of Hockney’s covers (as reduced-size reproductions, of course). But while Hockney hasn’t slowed down for a minute at 77, the Frick has long been frozen in aspic. Here’s a wasted opportunity to put an important work into a context of artistic borrowing and exchange, and to make a centuries-old painting speak to a modern art lover.

Audio guides and smartphone apps, more and more common but still needing work, are the beginning of an exciting new way to engage with art. “Beginning,” because there’s plenty of headroom for improvement. A stellar Kandinsky exhibition at New York’s Neue Galerie had an audio guide, but I had to start up Spotify on my phone with earphones to associate his theater set designs for a “Pictures at an Exhibition” ballet with the respective parts of the music, which could perfectly well have been available on a headset on the wall next to each piece, or on the audio tour device. I know the music pretty well, but not well enough to be sure I wasn’t remembering “The Great Gate of Kiev” when I was looking at the old castle set. Much too often, the audio commentary itself is delivered in an off-putting academic style with a stuffy accent—a lecture from someone who would rather be somewhere else. Why can’t it be conversational, and share real enthusiasm and curiosity?

Getting with the tech revolution is not the only opportunity museums could seize by starting to use their enormous idle wealth responsibly. Real research about the visitor experience, which flowered briefly (mostly in science museums) between the 1930s and ’80s and then withered, could inform presentation so it actually works better, instead of just looking good to other curators and designers. At present, museums know very little about their audience and even less about the people who don’t attend. (Where, for example, did we get the bizarre idea that six seconds is the right amount of time to spend with a painting worth looking at—and isn’t it the responsibility of art museums to fix that?)

Building more space (and endowing its maintenance and operation) is an obvious path toward “more engagement,” at least for the people who attend now. What about those who don’t? Again, we need more research, but many of my students at a big public university simply don’t feel entitled, by background or competence, to art in a museum. When I take them on a field trip, I can sense a strong defensive and insecure reaction: “If I don’t see what’s so great about this, I must be not good enough for it.” Art-historical expertise and connoisseurship are not chopped liver. But they are not everything, not even everything about art. How is it that one can go in and out of every great museum and have no idea that there is a large body of research in cognitive psychology and the brain science of perception that (as the eminent art historian E.H. Gombrich was not too blinkered to see) makes art more important, more interesting, and more relevant? Ms. Curator, you may be way up there in the art world pecking order, but you are no Gombrich: Learn from him! There is simply no reason a visitor to the de Young Museum should need his kids to take him across town to the Exploratorium to learn about this.

Would it hurt society’s relationship to art if the institutions that display it had a less religious and awestruck affective orientation to the work? A less one-dimensional scale of value—which doesn’t sort objects out on a “masterpiece” index and induce visitors to scoot past wonders in search of the most famous few pieces—would help. Indeed, why don’t museums show us some fashionable bad art and explain why it is such, and authorize us to believe that if we think this or that piece is silly or a con, we might be right? Certified excellence isn’t the only way to be interesting and considerable. Why aren’t they more willing to entertain the idea that a lot of stuff selling for big money is faddish, schlocky, or silly (but may still be interesting), rather than torturing themselves into making excuses for an embalmed shark or one more metal balloon animal? Why can’t we see the experts disagree and argue with each other?

Management failures usually start with governance failures, and museum boards are way too heavy on wealthy collectors and too light on psychologists, artists, educators, and science-museum curators. Board selection is a hermetic, self-replicating process focused on wealth and social status to the exclusion of expertise, judgment, and wisdom; Met director Thomas Hoving memorably captured this willful blindness with his immortal, “Any trustee should be able to write a check for at least $3 million and not even feel it.” … [more]
art  museums  culture  collections  2015  michaelo'hare  democracy  governance  ethics  policy  technology  engagement  education  accessibility 
may 2015 by robertogreco
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