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 [personal 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 [personal 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: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
If you haven't seen The Five Stages of Grading, I heartily recommend it.

As I grade my students' first lengthy assignment, I am relieved, not for the first time, at how difficult it would be to plagiarize an assignment in my class. Close to impossible for this assignment, and difficult though possible for the final paper.

It's not that I suspect any of my students would plagiarize -- far from it! -- but I am relieved not to have to struggle with that fear.

On one mailing list which I'm subscribed, there is currently an active discussion going on about how the desire to prevent plagiarizing in computer science classes leads to faculty making rules that make it difficult to have any kind of collaborative learning. And I empathize with both faculty and students in that dilemma. It's become so much easier to cheat in the age of the Internet, and in computer science I can't imagine how either faculty or students cope with negotiating cheating in the new era. As an adult programmer, it's accepted and encouraged practice to solve specific problems by copying someone else's code and modifying it to meet your needs. Hell, that's the principle of FLOSS, right there. But with students, you do need to teach them how to write algorithms and solve problems themselves. I'm not saying it's impossible to negotiate that terrain, but it's difficult.

So I'm grateful once again that the risk of plagiarism is not one I need to worry about. When I look at a student paper that's better than I expected that student's work to be, I can be unreservedly pleased. And these papers are better than I had expected, for first papers. And so I am, unreservedly, pleased.

Nice to remember that there are joys from grading.

Although one of them is the cat on my lap.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
You know it's a good conference when you've sent your coworkers countless caffeine-fueled e-mail messages that read I AM SO BRILLIANT LOOK AT MY BRILLIANT IDEA or WE ARE SO STUPID WHY DIDN'T WE THINK OF THIS BRILLIANT THING THAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING. Or when you've made a blog post illustrating academic repositories as toddlers playing with a toy truck. I strongly suspect my coworkers wish I would lay off the café con Leche already.

I have this crazy WordPad document open full of notes and links, and I can't figure out which of them are e-mails to specific departments, which of them are notes for myself for further investigation, in which of them are totally awesome blogable exciting links to share with YOU, my loyal readers.

trying not to ramble too much outside of cut: scientific workflows, datasets, faculty information systems )

I see two overarching themes of the conference: the first is Interoperability Is the One True Religion. No silo-like repository can solve everybody's problems. We are interdisciplinary and inter-institution, and we won't solve any problems and less our resources and data can be used by other tools, other resources, other datasets, etc. The second theme I see is Duraspace Helps Those Who Help Themselves. This is open-source software, and we all need to pitch in, and everything is going to be perfect in a modular happy world where everyone writes the tools they want and shares them in an open source community.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
This weekend, I attended Boston's first Accessibility Unconference. I expected to be going only for the networking opportunity, but I found the whole experience fabulous. Certainly there were some frustrations -- the location, for example, could have been more accessible by public transit. But overall, it was a great day.

I spoke about Dreamwidth, not surprisingly. Just as others have talked about the rich developer community that's built when you provide a development environment which is welcoming to women and encouraging to newbies, I talked about the accessibility gains that you get from creating a nurturing environment in your open-source community for people with disabilities. I talked about how being encouraging not just developers with disabilities but also newbies with disabilities made it more likely for your project to have a rich and motivated pool of testers using adaptive technology -- which prompted one participant to say something along the lines of, "you should rent those people out; everybody wants actual disabled testers!"

Other people's talks were also compelling. Jeanette Beal talked about low tech solutions for improving independent living, and gave us all a good reminder that adaptive technology isn't all about Web 2.0. I was sad the session on HTML 5 video was pretty brief, although that was all of our faults, because it shared a session with Flash video and we all asked too many questions of the people discussing Flash.

And the networking was nothing to sneeze at, either. I was thrilled to finally meet the blogger behind Dis/positional. I had long, enlightening talks with Judy Brewer (who was puzzled by my starry eyes) and Mike Gorse ([ profile] lightvortex), a developer who works on Gnome accessibility. I learned that Patrick Timony, adaptive technology librarian at the DC public Library, is going to be presenting at SAA, and I promised to send those of my coworkers who will be attending the conference to talk to him. I didn't have enough time to talk to him about his interesting ideas about accessibility and archives, but I made the connection!

Above all, I was overwhelmed with being surrounded by more professionals with disabilities than I had ever in my life met offline. More programmers with disabilities. More female programmers with disabilities. At one point I was hard pressed not to start crying. Dreamwidth has been great for introducing me to other professionals, other techies, other female professionals and female techies disabilities. But I underestimated the emotional impact of being surrounded by that many of us in one room.

(ETA: One glorious moment happened when an attendee of the conference was chatting with me (note that my disability is mostly invisible) and she said "I see a lot of visually impaired people here. Are they here to learn about what kind of adaptive technologies are available?" And I responded, "No, they are mostly programmers and accessibility professionals," and she looked thoroughly taken aback. I think my little heart grew three sizes.)
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