deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Here is what I am currently doing for my job: an accessibility review of one of my favorite reference books, so my employers can know what needs to happen to make it more accessible.

I am making one of the best reference books more accessible. And in order to do that, I am having to spend a lot of time going to lots of pages on the reference book's website.

I don't know what I did to deserve this, but I want to find out so I can do it again and again.

#Yes, I have favorite reference works. That's how we librarians roll.
#Once a librarian, always a librarian.
#I've been spending enough time reading tumblr that completing a post with a series of rambling postscripts just seems normal now.
#But I actually use my tags for classification and discovery.
#Cf. above re: "librarian"
#So apparently I am fake hashtagging because I am a hipster.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
ATMac has been collecting iOS 8 accessibility wishes. Here are mine, focused on mobility limitations:

  • A single tap for a page down / move down one full screen, and page up / move up one full screen, which works in all apps that follow a base iOS standard
  • Hey, how about a base iOS standard widget / gesture set, which apps are encouraged to follow for consistent usability, just like on a desktop machine!
  • Tap to go to the bottom of the screen, like we currently have tap to go to the top
  • Improvements to Assistive Touch favorites, starting with better documentation; ability to reorganize favorites; more favorites; more consistent favorite functionality; and easier movement between Assistive Touch favorites and the rest of the UI. I would love a favorites bar dock I could place on the screen.
  • A more functional way to use Assistive Touch with VoiceOver, maybe with a bank of predefined taps for the base VoiceOver gestures
  • Integration with alternative keyboards -- if I could only use Flesky as my default keyboard!
  • More comprehensive Siri or VR integration, especially more command-and-control
  • At least some minimal VR in the absence of network, just a little command-and-control

Also, I keep hearing about the great accessibility features that would be available to me if I were to jailbreak my phone. I'm not going to, but why should I need to jailbreak the phone to be able to run f.lux to dim the screen with the time of day, or the ability to move mutiple icons at a time, or tie gestures to app activation, or half the stuff I mentioned above regarding a richer family of gestures. If jailbreakers can do it, Apple can do it, and I hardly see how having a "jump to bottom of screen" would be a security or stability hole.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
This trend I'm seeing for massive fonts -- 22 pixels on Medium, 20 pixels (computed from 3.0625 em!) on, when my default size is 13 pixels -- is driving my up the wall. I have my screen set to a certain resolution and my fonts at a certain size which I find readable. When the main body text is that much larger than my comfortable reading range, I have to shrink the heck out of my fonts to be over to cope, and then increase them again when I'm done.

I have my browser set to a comfortable reading size. Why are all these sites assuming I don't?
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day! I'm very excited about the presentation I'll be giving tonight (that's grown from this one) at Fresh Tilled Soil's Boston GAAD event. I'm looking forward to the other speakers, as well; I've been reading Kel Smith's book, actually.

I want to give a very brief overview of how I use technology, since enough people have asked. I'm including the various technologies (hardware and software) I use, as well as some of their perks and frustrations. Part one is my non-mobile experience: Windows, Linux, Mac.

For context, I used to be about 99% hands-free, and now I am more like 80% for actual coding/writing and maybe 50% for just dicking around online. Hooray, vast improvement! But I still have 100% hands-free days, and I need to be able to control the computer completely. I'm a programmer in my day job, and in my free time I sysadmin, code open source, write book reviews, and spend a lot of time on social media. In other words, I'm on a device the vast majority of my waking hours.

Operating Systems, Software, Hardware: Cut for length )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
(There's some non-screenreader friendly text in here, because the nature of the documentation I'm pasting in includes very long alphanumeric hashes. When you get to them just skip over them.)

Sometimes, because you are not looking at two different branches or a pull request or something such as that, you don't have access to the "compare" options from the github UI. However, you can build the URL manually. The documentation gives it as[START...]END

Where USER and REPO are obvious, and START and END are branch names, tag names, or commit SHA1s specifying the range of history to compare. If is omitted, the repository's default branch is assumed.


Can get me to a diff view of everything from the commit with SHA1 08d335399862f0557311caa4ccd530b17c1a18b3 as its label (this is the long string in the URL of any commit) to the HEAD revision, which is to say, the current revision.

Fun times!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Free Government Infomation's Best. Titles. Ever. is back! It's now a tumblr, it's hilarious as ever, and it's managed by the amazing Aimee. Come for the lulz, stay for the muskrat meat. Thanks, GPO and Pueblo, Colarado.

This mab of the London Tube is rendered entirely in CSS! It's hasn't taken advantage of that for accessibility, but it'd be easy: a positioned off-screen header before each line, some text to announce junctions of two lines.

In response to "Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people":

Christopher Myers: "The Apartheid of Children’s Literature" in the NYT.

The mission statements of major publishers are littered with intentions, with their commitments to diversity, to imagination, to multiculturalism, ostensibly to create opportunities for children to learn about and understand their importance in their respective worlds. During my years of making children’s books, I’ve heard editors and publishers bemoan the dismal statistics, and promote this or that program that demonstrates their company’s “commitment to diversity.” With so much reassurance, it is hard to point fingers, but there are numbers and truths that stand in stark contrast to the reassurances.

And père. Walter Dean Myers: Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?

Simple racism, I thought. On reflection, though, I understood that I was wrong. It was racism, but not simple racism. My white co-worker had simply never encountered a black chemist before. Or a black engineer. Or a black doctor. I realized that we hired people not so much on their résumés, but rather on our preconceived notions of what the successful candidate should be like. And where was my boss going to get the notion that a chemist should be black?

deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've left Tufts DCA after the longest tenure I've had at a job to become a support engineer at Safari Books Online. Among other things, this means that after nearly a decade, I've left academia for private industry.

Well, for publishing. Which is like private industry, but for people laugh at profit.[note]

I want to talk briefly about my career trajectory. )
[Note] I snark; Safari does just fine, online tech books being a popular item even before you get to all the reference book contracts. Though after a decade in academia, my scales for what is considered financial success are all off. Academic institutions measures success not by quarterly profit, which can be low, but by the size of the endowments they sit jealously and often uselessly upon like learned Smaugs.[back]
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm supposed to be at Linux Conf Australia now, ready to give a presentation on "User-Created Content: Maintaining accessibility and usability when we don't control the content". Due to the vagaries of snowstorms and the helpful Can Don't attitude of Emirates, I'm not there, but luckily Her Fabulousness the amazing [staff profile] fu is going to give the presentation in my stead, which makes up at least a little for missing the conference myself.

I've uploaded my slides to slideshare, though if you're at LCA I suggest going to see [staff profile] fu speak instead (her presentation will differ from mine, of course, in style if not in content).

The topic:
Social Media sites, Content Management Systems, and Learning Management Systems rely on end-users, not web developers, to create the content at the heart of the site. How can we design our interfaces to encourage users to create usable, accessible content? Can we train our users without annoying them or driving them away? What tools can we give them to make it easier for them to create the best content? We want it to be easy for our users to create content every bit as accessible and usable as we would create ourselves.

The meat of this presentation is in the notes; I'm not big on text-heavy slides, which is great during a presentation but harder to follow when downloading a presentation. On Slideshare you can view the slide notes on a slide by slide basis or in a PDF I've created of the entire presentation. Sadly PPT-to-PDF notes view has no alt for the slides, and slideshare has no way of modifying a transcript to include off-slide text. In other words, my authoring tools got in the way of the accessibility of my content. >:( The most accessible format might be downloading the PPT directly from slideshare! (All non-decorative images in the Powerpoint have alt.) I will upload audio at some point.

Oh, and if you're at LCA, [staff profile] mark's giving an introduction to Go tomorrow, so you should go to that, too!
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Kirkus Reviews reviewers are anonymous, and I like it that way. For one thing, it means that we speak with an editorial voice; when the incomparable Vicky Smith changes my reviews (always for the better), it means she's doing so with the voice of the publication.

Famously, our reviews are anonymous because they give the reviewers (in the very small world where so many publishers, authors, editors, agents, reviewers, and librarians know each other, smaller now in the days of the Internet) the freedom to be frank. Some, whose opinions I do not share, think that we are infamously cruel. The Kirkus folks I know certainly don't think of ourselves this way. Rather, we know that our reviews are being read by people with limited budgets and limited time, not just readers but librarians and teachers with small selection budgets, and we are determined to give those Kirkus Reviews readers all the tools they need to make the right purchasing choices. And yes, sometimes this means we write reviews authors don't like. The children's book review world has a partially true reputation of operating under the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" rubric. This is most apparent with journals such as The Horn Book Magazine, which dedicates almost every one of its limited pages to books it thinks excels. While this serves one purpose for potential customers of reviews, Kirkus Reviews serves a different one, and I'm glad they both exist.

Anyway, when I first started reviewing for Kirkus Reviews, I would occasionally go seek out the social media presence of authors about whose books I had been ... not as kind as the authors probably would have wanted me to be. I'm not quite sure what experience I was seeking out. It wasn't schadenfreude or gloating, because I had nothing against these authors and certainly no desire to cause them pain or financial harm. I suppose it was a desire to see my mark in the world in some small way. I've long since stopped doing that; the point of our reviews is not a relationship with the author, but a qualitative description of the book in hopes that we might help find the right reader for the right book. In general I have thoroughly mixed feelings about the now-thoroughly shattered wall between readers and authors, and especially between authors and book bloggers. I apologize for thinking aloud in reader response terms, but I feel like the transaction between reader and story is fundamentally changed when the reader is constantly aware of the author.

But I do confess I still have one small social media bit of spying that I sometimes do. Occasionally, long after I have reviewed a book -- and not when I have something else by the same author in my pool -- I will go look at the blog of an author whose work I starred or otherwise kvelled about. If the author doesn't mention Kirkus Reviews, I am perfectly happy. And if they mention the review in a way that shows they are thinking about the effect on sales, that doesn't really affect me one way or the other. But sometimes I go to an author's blog and their response to a review I wrote is some variant of "They liked my baby! Those famously picky people liked my baby!" or "Wow, this one sentence in the review shows that what they loved about my book is what I love about my book!" And then I think, you know, Author, my goal was not to make you happy. In fact my goal was to take the ways in which you had given me joy (by writing the book), and convince as many people as possible to share the experience. But the fact, Author, that I gave you such joy -- it rebounds back onto me. ♥ Floating hearts and kittens for everyone. ♥
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
  1. In your CSS, make sure you can see where the cursor is as you tab through the page. Avoid using CSS display:none; or display:0; These attributes are often set incorrectly in widely shared CSS you may have downloaded, so you'll have to turn this back on with a:focus { }.

  2. Make all page elements keyboard accessible.
    1. In the Javascript: Trigger events "onFocus" as well as "onHover", to keypress events as well as mouseclick events, and to focus exiting and entering as well as hover entering and exiting.

    2. In the HTML: If you must artificially create HTML elements using CSS and JavaScript, use roles and tabindex in order to specify appropriate page elements. This requires only adding two attributes in the HTML: role and tabindex.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Tressie McMillan Cottom isn't a techie; she's an academic specialising in "education, inequality, and organizations". I've been fascinated by her blogging on her research topic: for-profit education. Tressie has worked in both for-profit and non-profit, so she has a bigger grasp of the distinctions than many of us who are advocates for one side or the other.

Anyway, today -- presumably not for Ada Lovelace Day; Tressie's not, as I said, in tech -- she coincidentally posted: "One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Speaking While Black."

On the trip from the ballroom to the lounge I was stopped by three black hotel staff workers. I’m used to this. They are often older, but not always. Either way, they’ve worked in places like the Hilton for many years and they have rarely, if ever, seen someone who looks like me — like them — on the stage. They want me to know they’re proud of me. I’m a good southern girl so I mind my manners and my elders. I say yes ma’am, I’m in school. Yes, sir, my momma sure is proud of me. Thank you for praying for me.

Even my colleagues make a point of telling me that they are proud, of acknowledging my existence. A loquacious, entertaining, generous senior professor from Illinois bee-lined towards me as I found an empty seat. He didn’t even bother with introductions, as family is liable to do. He just started in with, “i sure did like seeing you up there.” I know what he means but he wants me to be clear. He goes on to tell me how long he has come to events like this and how rarely he has seen a brown face at the front of the “big room”

He asked what, by the end of the day, I was asked about half a dozen times: “how did that happen?!”

We're making excellent (if slow) inroads into getting more female representation of speakers at tech conferences. I hope we're ready to make similar inroads with the vast racial disparity (at least at every tech conference I've ever attended, in the US and in Europe).

Tressie's post is illuminating. She's a model for me, even though our fields of interested don't overlap at all.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everybody.

And, hey, just to make this an official Ada Lovelace Day post, here's to Kimberly Bryant, founder of the amazing Black Girls Code. I don't know that much about her that I haven't read in press for BGC, but that's impressive enough:

Kimberly’s daughter, who is currently in middle school, has been interested in technology and an avid gamer since the age of 8. Several years ago, after realizing her daughter would frequently get bored with videogames, Kimberly wanted to show her how to make one and enrolled her in a summer game development program at Stanford. “It was a great experience for her,” explains Kimberly. “But there were only about 3 girls out of approximately 25 students and she was the only person of color enrolled.”

As a result of these experiences, Kimberly decided to launch Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that encourages young minority women to pursue a career in technology by providing them with workshops and after-school programs focused on a wide range of tech-related topics. “Our goal,” Kimberly explains, “is to address the gender and diversity gap in technology and to feed girls into the STEM pipeline as early in their development years as possible.”

--"Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code"
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
So it's hard to say I am currently admiring a woman who left computer science, and it's certainly not Ada Lovelace Day material, but let me flail for a minute.

So to start with, quoting [personal profile] allen:

Went to see [ profile] viennateng(with [ profile] highceilings opening) show tonight. I went with [personal profile] deborah and [personal profile] cnoocy. [personal profile] cthulhia showed up a few minutes after we did and sat behind us. [personal profile] ursamajor we met up with at the merch table between sets. [personal profile] momijizukamori found us after the show and walked back to the T with us.

The concert was excellent, too, in addition to the impromptu meet-up.

If it's not clear, all of those meetups were unplanned and coincidental. I also ran into M, a friend from high school.

Anyway, Vienna Teng. She got a BS in Computer Science at Stanford in 2000, and worked as a programmer for two years. Then career shift, boom, music, and that was her career for the next 8 years - and then she turned around and went back to grad school (dual Masters, MBA and Environmental Studies). And now she's making music again.

It's just, man. I'm currently working on my third completely unrelated Masters. (Library Science can be related to both Computer Science and Children's Literature, but I'm not interested in the overlaps, except inasmuch as I'm a programmer as a librarian and archivist.) And looking at how Vienna Teng has happily decided she can be a musician along with her other skills and studies, reminds me that this can be a successful way to be, rather than just undecided flailing.

And her music is freaking gorgeous.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
"What Can Old Menus From Hawaii Tell Us About Changing Ocean Health?"

The basic premise is this–if a species of fish can be readily found in large enough numbers, then it’s likely to make it on restaurant menus. Van Houtan and colleagues tracked down 376 such menus from 154 different restaurants in Hawaii, most of which were supplied by private menu collectors.

The team compared the menus, printed between 1928 and 1974, to market surveys of fishermen’s catches in the early 20th century, and also to governmental data collected from around 1950 onward. This allowed the researchers to compare how well the menus reflected the kinds of fishes actually being pulled from the sea.

The menus, their comparative analyses revealed, did indeed closely reflect the varieties and amounts of fish that fishermen were catching during the years that data were available, indicating that the restaurants’ offerings could provide a rough idea of what Hawaii’s fisheries looked like between 1905 and 1950–a period that experienced no official data collection.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
So I have long understood the critiques of relying on Peggy McIntosh and Tim Wise for introducing white students to race theory and the concepts of privilege. And (while they are not the same person and should not be painted with the same brush), Tim Wise's current panstlessness on Twitter has reminded me of a question I've been meaning to ask for a while.

While I know that there are plenty of excellent writings by people of color on the concept of privilege, I've never found anything, personally, as good as The Invisible Knapsack for really doing that first, preliminary, kindergarten step of introducing the concepts to white students who are initially resistant to the ideas. Given that pretty much anyone with any privilege on any axis is going to get their back up the first time they learn about the concepts, and white students especially given how overwhelming the racial problems are in this country and how much the dominant narrative wants us to believe in a post-racial society, I really like starting with something gentle, something they find it harder to kneejerk argue with. It's certainly not where I finish, but I have found it to be a useful starting point.

I'm sure there must be other introductory essays which are similarly clear and gentle but also written by POC, but my librarian skills are failing me. Anyone have any good recommendations?

(I know there's Scalzi's difficulty level essay, but that suffers from the exact same problem, and also doesn't actually particularly address my usual audience.)
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Last fall, when I taught with [personal profile] astern, it wasn't until after we had started the semester that we realized what the ideal opening assignment ought to be. Now that we are taking a teaching hiatus, we have to give the assignment to you. This assignment will not be graded on a curve, so do your best work! We expect you to abide by the Honor Code*, which in this case means you may work together.

Your assignment:

Pick a book. In the spirit of the class we are not currently teaching, I suggest a speculative fiction work for children or young adults, but pick any book you are interested in talking about.

Now pick three types of writing off the following list. You must pick option 9, but the other two can be any you choose.

  1. A personal blog post reacting to your reading experience.
  2. A professional blog post about the text.
  3. The political response: a reading of the text on purely ideological grounds.
  4. A Goodreads or Amazon style review of the book.
  5. A professional (e.g. Kirkus, Publishers Weekly) style review. If you pick this option, read several examples, and pay attention to such things as house style, word count, ratio of summary/analysis/judgment, etc.
  6. Librarian book talk write up.
  7. Editorial analysis, from the point of view of a publisher or agent working with the manuscript.
  8. Critical scholarly discussion of the sort you would post in an educational forum discussing the text for a class.
  9. Formal critical scholarly analysis of any element of the text, as with a formal paper.

Write at least 500 words in each of your three styles (unless you are choosing to write a professional review, in which case use the word count appropriate for the house style you are choosing). Pay attention to what is different. Besides obvious changes (such as casual versus professional language), what differs? What different choices did you have to make? Did more or fewer words make things easier?

One of our goals with this hypothetical assignment was to show how, while each of these styles of writing is valuable and important -- we certainly don't think, say, personal blog posts of squee aren't valuable -- they are all wildly different. In fact, we hope some of you will choose to write both personal and professional blog posts, or both Goodreads and professional reviews, just to focus on the more subtle (but vital) differences between these types of writing.

Current students are so incredibly proficient at writing about reading, because what with blogs etc., they do so much of it. And yet at the same time, they are proficient in some very specific kinds of writing about reading (primarily personal blogs and Goodreads-style reviews, with some amount of professional blogs), and the process of showing people the requirements of the different kinds of writing is different than it used to be. Without devaluing existing proficiencies, we hope to show that high quality reactive blog post, for example, is not the same thing as scholarly forum discussion.

Over the next couple of days, we will be producing examples of each of these kinds of writing for a single book, and we will post our own examples as well as our own analysis of the differences in the writing style. Let us know here if you have tried this exercise yourself and would like us to link here to your results (whether that happens now or sometime in the future).

* Why yes, we are both bi-co, why do you ask? [Back]
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
This is the week for which I have taken a week of vacation time, and set aside for doing nothing but spending eight hours a day to get better at programming by voice. Among other things, this involves learning Emacs.

I are not braining today. /o\

(anyone who has favorite tips on Emacs for vim users, I would welcome sharing.)
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
  • "So You Want to Read YA?", a guest post by Amy Stern at Stacked. Everything she says there is completely worth reading, except for how I think Rob Thomas' later statements about his work have poisoned everything he wrote earlier in his career, to the extent that I find it impossible to talk about his earlier work in any non-negative fashion.[1]
  • "Specimens: Figurines, fishers, bugs and bats – how things in the world become sacred objects in a museum": I want to understand how things come to take their place — especially in museums and collections — as embodiments of knowledge, artefacts out of time and nature, provoking curiosity and wonder. How they become objectified.
  • "Fist-clenchingly poor science": But every time such fist-clenchingly poor science as the current paper is published, the prejudice is reinforced and the cause of open access publishing undermined. Thus, while I’m sure everyone involved is dedicated and scrupulous, it is paramount that PLOS works harder to increase its editorial standards to reduce the chances of such embarrassingly weak science being published.
  • "Colleges Leaving Low-Income Students Behind": Schools have gone from helping to make college more affordable for those with the greatest financial need to strategically awarding merit aid to students who can increase their standings in rankings like U.S. News & World Report and bring in more revenue.

1. But then, I'm still capable of saying positive things about Ender's Gamer and Speaker for the Dead, and I'm sure plenty of other smart people feel the way about Orson Scott Card that I feel about Rob Thomas. Apparently I draw the line somewhere after "gay marriage is destroying my family" and before "women who make rape accusations are lying liars who lie." Or possibly I think Ender and Speaker are good enough books to get me past my anger at their creator; certainly I can no longer read lesser Card with any pleasure. And the highest quality Rob Thomas surpasses the quality of the worst OSC, but doesn't even come close to the best. [back]
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
After five awesome years, I'll be taking a hiatus from teaching my F & SF for children's and young adults class. I'm also going back to school for a third master's: computer science, this time. So that happened.

These are actually unrelated events, except inasmuch as I wouldn't be doing an MS program if I were still teaching. Once I realized I was taking a break from teaching, it occurred to me I'd have the time at last to take advantage of the free tuition benefit offered by my employer. That I went in about a week from "Maybe I should take some classes" to "You know what would be awesome? A degree program!" is par for the course of [personal profile] deborah. I would crack myself up if I didn't have to live with the aftermath of being me.

As I prepare for the mental shift from teaching master's students to being one, I think I might take some serious time to brush up my programming-by-voice skills. I haven't really spent any spoons on rewiring my brain for better dictation in years -- I don't use Natlink/Vocola or Utter Command or Dragonfly or even VoiceCode. When I was younger I was spending everything I had learning to function again, and then I knew all kinds of cruddy workarounds and just wrote terrible DNS scripting commands for Perl. And besides these days I can type a little.

I don't think my rotten VB workarounds and a little bit of typing will cut it for work + dreamwidth + grad school, though, so taking the time to buckle down and get better at dictating, while long overdue, is finally vital.
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