Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities

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I was awake at 3.30am to take part in the Second Life talk that’s part of this forum: (why do I do these things…)

Using Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities

This two-part, interactive event will take place in two locations online:

First, the live discussion in the virtual world of Second Life at 9am PST
The follow-up discussion will take place for the rest of the day, 10AM PST- 6PM PST, in TechSoup’s Accessible Technology & Public Computing forum at: <http://www.techsoup.org/go/accessibletechnology>
Event Schedule:

9 AM PST in the Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater in Second Life.

Simon Stevens (aka Simon Walsh in Second Life) <http://www.simonstevens.com> will be speaking about his work in Second Life. Simon Walsh is chief executive of Enable Enterprises which manages the Wheelies nightclub for people with disabilities in Second Life and the Second Ability Second Life simulator. In real life, Simon has cerebral palsy and lives in Coventry, UK. He is a disability consultant and trainer working with many organizations large and small.

Simon will give a virtual talk via text chat in the Nonprofit Commons amphitheater, in the virtual world of Second Life

10AM PST- 6PM PST –the follow-on discussion will continue in an all-day, asynchronous (not-live) forum on TechSoup. This event will occur in a question and answer format in the TechSoup Accessible Technology & Public Computing forum <http://www.techsoup.org/go/accessibletechnology>

Online Event: Using Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities in this forum, Feb. 29th, all-day, asynchronous (not-live). No registration is needed; just show up here and post your questions!

Accessible Technology and Public Computing message board, TechSoup

Dave

Is Photodropper ripping of Flickr Manager – Antithesis of a connected culture?

Today I got in my delicious “for” bookmarks a link with a note that a site has appeared called Photodropper (purposely not linked to here) had appeared on the scene and is pushing a WordPress plugin that aside from a few changed variable names appears is the exact code ripped off from a plugin called Flickr Manager which my colleague and programmer at the place I work wrote and released back in November 2007.

The Flickr Manager was released prior under a GNU General Public License. The Photodropper plugi has been released as Copyrighted. Even to my basic level of understandig this appears to contravene the GPL.

Wikipedia states:

“The GPL is the most popular and well-known example of the type of strong copyleft license that requires derived works to be available under the same copyleft. Under this philosophy, the GPL is said to grant the recipients of a computer program the rights of the free software definition and uses copyleft to ensure the freedoms are preserved, even when the work is changed or added to.” (emphasis mine)

But as wrong as that might seem, this get’s me angry for reasons that transcend pure legality. Let me try to elaborate why.

My colleague Trent is a talented programmer, he’s also a fast learner and a mate. When I hired him last year to work for the place I work and be a part of the small IT team he was just finishing Uni. He’s now starting his Honours. He hadn’t heard of WordPress much less participated in any wide open source endeavors or dipped his foot into the Web 2.0, read/write online world. His first task was when we had to rework a project that had been put together hurriedly prior to his starting that documents the History of Disability in SA. I had conceived and built that site using as many Web 2.0 and collaborative techniques I had absorbed in the prior year and the time and our budget could afford and done so with the emerging nature of online interaction in mind. I rapidly threw everything I had learnt about the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and the culture of cooperation, sharing, collaboration and openness I’d been immersed in. And Trent picked it up quick, very quick, soaking it in like a sponge then mixing in his own thoughts and ideas. Right there he embraced the re-mix culture of ideas.

In no time we quickly were exploring all kinds of ideas and rapidly developing tools and techniques focused around building a kick-ass back-end infrastructure on WordPress that we could implement for our redevelopment of the History project and ensuring the things we built were suited to our longer term vision of redeveloping the centre’s information systems framework, which we had decided was, and is, to be based on wpmu.

One of the key tools Trent made was a plugin for WordPress that could better handle the images we used on the History project site. You see, the project uses images on Flickr that we put there. It was planned that way – use tools already existing that do the job we need and build a site using data that is actually distributed. So we used Flickr as the centre’s and projects photo manager. To better allow staff to easily control the integration between the images and the other associated text (stored locally) Trent developed what became Flickr Manager plugin for WordPress.

Encouraged by me he released it into the WordPress community under a GPL license. And started a blog. Our desire to be part of the culture that we exist in – the Web 2.0 space online – and to support the WordPress community was blossoming. The Flickr Manager plugin, released onto the WordPress Extend plugin site got fast take up and rapidly Trent developed more features and made heaps of bug fixes. A lot of time went into getting it just right, aided by a lot of messages from users of the plugin and helping them when they had problems with it. The community was working. It turns oput that his Flickr Manager was the first WordPress plugin to actually allow uploading to Flickr from the WordPress dashboard, not just retrieval of images from Flickr..

I managed to convince the Director that getting Trent and myself to WordCamp in Melbourne was a good investment in the future – no mean feat in the climate of funding cutbacks and total upheaval we were in, are still in, trying to regroup the way we operate and fight for survival.

All this effort and passion that goes on behind what the end user, the world sees, is where the real heart of Web 2.0 anmd the collaborative, participative, sharing and caring nature of open source culture exists. It’s openness of people at their most human, fundamental level. People connecting with other people.

So to have some un-appreciative, un-creative leach come and claim something they ‘badge engineered’ as theirs is like introducing a vacuum back into culture. And it makes me sick. And if you love anything thats good about humans, culture and this online place we share – it should make you sick too.

It’s anathema to everything we are trying to achieve as a connected people.

Dave

Foxtel sucks

Watching Foxtel this morning and anxiously wanting the adverts to finish to continue watching what I was watching, something occurred to me.

Why are we now paying to watch ads?

It used to be TV was paid for by the advertisers so we could watch free. The Media companies were paid by the advertisers to provide a service to the consumer. Now the Media companies are being paid by the consumer via subscription AND the advertiser.

It sucks.

Latest Extraordinary Everyday Lives Podcast up #41

EELS41 Thu 7 Feb 2008 – Ajay Ranipeta – Laurel driving

Get the show here – The Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show #041 – 1:15:18; 25.9Mb

Extraordinary Everyday Lives show #41 – Thursday 7th Feb 2008

In this first show for 2008 Laurel Papworth is handed the reigns to drive the show and brings a guest Ajay Ranipeta to have a chat. Ajay talks about Bio Informatics while as usual everyone else goes off on other interesting tangents. It’s all good info. and good fun though.

If any of you would like to do the same and bring a guest on the show and have a go at hosting, please send us an email – see contacts in the sidebar of the blog.

Dave

Dave for Rudd’s 1000 at Australia 2020 Summit

Laurel talks here about Kevin Rudd’s call for an Australia 2020 Summit [video] to gather ideas from 1000 Australians on 10 issues:

• Future directions for the economy, including education, skills, training, science and innovation
• Economic infrastructure, the digital economy and the future of Australia’s cities
• Population, sustainability, climate change, water
• Rural industries and communities
• National health strategy
• Families, communities and social inclusion
• Indigenous Australia
• The future of Australia’s arts, film and design
• Democracy, open government, the role of the media, the structure of federation, citizens’ rights and responsibilities
• Future security and prosperity Source: Prime Minister’s office

Over at bloggerati.com.au there’s a user generated poll going on for including who we, the people of the web, think should be in the 1000.

I’ve been nominated….so go vote if you think I have anything valuable to add. You just never know.

Vote here for Dave in Rudd’s 1000.

Second Life, the ABC and Virtual Social interactions

UPDATE: The Producer of the show sent me the audio and I’ve snipped out music and commercials. You can listen here.

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Just like Laurel, I was asked on the ABC Radio Tuesday night to talk about Second Life (SL).

Evidently the show was about online relationships, not just SL, but I didn’t know this beforehand, not that it worries me. Unlike Laurel, who got bombarded with the sex and Second Life questions that seem to titillate the main stream media, I tended to focused on what SL offers me in terms of adding to the fabric of my life, the creative expression and particularly how online social networks of any kind hold the potential to lessen the effects of social isolation for a variety of people.

Second Life, as a visually rich environment full of a diverse range of people can give an opportunity for equally rich social interaction. Just like the physical world….only a different geography.

Pixels are people too.

It was interesting to be in discussion with the twitter crowd, particular thanks to @mpesce, @nickhodge & @silkcharm, before, after and as the show was on air and get comments and encouragement from them – another group of social interactions.

The show was streamed live but I don’t think podcast. However I’ve been in touch with the Producer and have a disc with the whole show on its way to me. Will see if I can make it available.

Dave