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VeeSee

veesee.jpgVeeSee is a website that has been launched in the UK by an interpreter, Susie Grant. The site is operating under the Deafeatures Ltd.

Before I go any further, I really want to be positive about online development, but I'm really struggling here. More about that later. The site has a very strange mix of web 1.0 content and design, mixed with a web 2.0 approach through a social network. On the face of it, the site offers:

A Marketplace, like eBay aka Sell and Buy:
Just like eBay, you can list items for sale. The cost is anything between 20p and £1.50 depending on price band. Before you think about selling your stack of old hearing aids, it is banned.

My immediate question here: why would I want to list an item here, when I get a bigger buying audience over at eBay, Amazon Associates etc, which would push the price up? Why are Deaf people any different in this respect, and what are the advantages of using this site to a mainstream one? The only thing I can think of, is selling specialist products or reaching out to a niche market. Auctions for general stuff, I can't see how it benefits me?

Courses, aka Sell and Learn:
You can get paid to upload course materials online. Exactly how much is unclear, and my guess payment will link into the quality of materials and demand. However, should you wish to follow a course online, you need to pay. This is not immediately obvious and I get this information from the terms and conditions which talks about refund for courses should one be cancelled.

My immediate response to this is around online learning. In a society where online content is not freely accessible, and hearing people are able to either (a) access free sites, or (b) access LSC supported sites where discounts are available should one be on benefits, it kind of capitalises on inequality. However, how much different is this to private companies offering courses? Deaf people need to ask themselves this question, and sufficient discussion needs to take place.

Social Network site, aka VeeSee Community:
Deaf people in the UK hang out on Bebo these days. To build a social network, it takes a lot of effort and where is the attraction to register? There appears to be no open source API in use, thus your own data locked in and not able to be transferred to another social network site. There needs the ability to insert widgets or content from say Flickr, YouTube.

"Hosted vlogs" aka VeeSee TV:
Signed TV with subtitles, or so it states on the website somewhere. This appears to be subscription based after one month. Actually I'm very confused about this, as there is this (when I looked appeared to be a lot of talking and no access) and a pop up box (that doesn't execute in Firefox) that is accessed from the top navigation bar, which provides some signed content. So where exactly am I supposed to go?

Why can't this material be placed on free sites? Where is the encouragement of vlogs? Is video online really TV? If its bandwidth that's justifying the fee, why not host videos at third party sites?

Information aka VeeSee EyeBytes:
From its title, it suggests easily digestible information. Only its not. Where's the formatting of the paragraphs, my eyes just glazed over. Secondly, where is the BSL content? Where there is a 'National Calendar'? Its just blank this end, and there's no RSS. How would this be different from other sites that already provide the same?

Chat and Discuss:
This feature hasn't been launched yet, only its "Coming Soon", therefore I cannot comment. Its not in the interests of any site to launch with pages missing. If the content is not there people are not going to go back.

Some other comments:

Who's advising you? This site is already in danger of falling flat on its face.

Patronising: The first newsletter (PDF file) says "... and never have to feel alone or isolated again". That by itself makes me never want to visit again, and boycott it. What doesn't already exist on the net already that doesn't allow me to interact with other people? There are other examples on the site that makes me ask this.

Paternalistic: In an age where blogging and vlogs are gaining steady ground, why is an interpreter setting up this site and people send in their videos, and moreover payment has to be made to access this? Why can't people just upload videos to YouTube? Where is the empowerment to allow Deaf people to create and own their own content? Own pages on another site really doesn't do it. Whist there might be every good intention here, it fails to really get its aim. Content has to be decentralised. My other question around centralised content, and locked in data is around how money is made in that manner. The same questions could be asked of mainstream hosted sites though.

Lack of accessibility to the Deaf Community: For a website that wants to exist around the Deaf community, there is very little or nothing by way of BSL navigation or dissemination of information. The terms and conditions contain words such as: circumvent, perpetual, irrevocable, proprietary, "Verified Rights Owner program" (USA spelling).

Long sentences such as this one, "Without limiting other remedies, we may limit, suspend, or terminate our service and user accounts, prohibit access to our website, remove hosted content, and take technical and legal steps to keep users off the Websites if we think that they are creating problems, possible legal liabilities, or acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of our policies. We also reserve the right to cancel unconfirmed accounts."

In all the waffle around terms and conditions, "We do charge fees for using other services, such as listing items. When you list an item or use a service that has a fee you have an opportunity to review and accept the fees that you will be charged based on our Fee Listings, which we may change from time to time." People should not be expected to read a load of inaccessible English to find that out.

I should not need to say this to an interpreter.

Layout is messed up in Firefox: I do not want to be forced to open IE to view VeeSee. However, you are forcing me to do this, as in Firefox I get half a screen, where the video plays at all.

One month is not long enough for a trial, plus to bribe me into paying: I'm not going to get hooked, I will watch free vlogs elsewhere instead. Who is seriously going to pay? As for payment, how many people have access to a credit card? I don't use them.

Lack of transparency and bad navigation: The navigation is nothing short of hell. See my comments under VeeSee above. There isn't consistency in presentation of information. From this page, its subscription based after one month. However, it took me a while to find it. The site is obviously out to make money and be run as a business, however, it needs to be clearer.

Tries to do too much: Tries to be too much, and my head is all over the place. Things such as advice leaflets are in danger of being dated extremely quickly. Do you have the resources to do this? Would people want an advice environment, when you are trying to get them to hang out too? What part of the site that is UNIQUE?

Lack of RSS capabilities: if a website does not have RSS or a blog these days, I really don't want to know. Bottom line, I'm not coming back. Web designers in the UK really need to understand this.

Stupid terms and conditions: Who wrote all this? This bit made me laugh, "You agree that you will not use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Websites for any purpose without our express written permission." So they don't want Google, Live, Yahoo Search etc to find them? What's the point in having such a website if noone can actually find it? Search engine bots have to write to them first? As a friend said, I would like to see this being enforced in court.

Whilst this site has possibly been established with the best of intentions, it gets it wrong. In an era when Deaf people should be owning and hosting their own content, where decentralisation of information is a mainstay, here we have the complete opposite. I'm saying all this, not because I want to knock down effort. I want a better quality space, especially in the UK, and right now its not happening. All I'm capable of feeling is embarrassed and ashamed, the UK can do better than this.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference VeeSee:

» VeeSee from Grumpy Old Deafies
Thoughts on VeeSee over here.... [Read More]

» VeeSee from North of the Stupid Line
If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Oh dear, what a palaver. Susie Grant has created VeeSee so that: [D]eaf people can realize their dreams too, to support the deaf community in an original way that would... [Read More]

» Miss Deaf UK: a micro example of how things really are from Grumpy Old Deafies
I had meant to type some thoughts on Miss Deaf UK last weekend, but personal circumstances has not allowed me to do this. Now playing catch up. A brief recap of the programme: we had a hearing person organising the... [Read More]

» Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me from Grumpy Old Deafies
Warning, this post is long but it raises some serious questions around the nature of interpreting, specifically in the UK. I don't even want to be typing this, I've got other things I want to do, and I'm completely irritated... [Read More]

» Vee See makes BBCi News Technology: Paternalism 2.0? from Grumpy Old Deafies
VeeSee is currently the top story at BBCi Technology News page. Where's the impartial reporting by the BBC, and go beyond the reporting its done to question the set up? Or can't the BBC see past the charity case... [Read More]

» Vee See makes BBCi News Technology: Paternalism 2.0? from Noesis
VeeSee is currently the top story at BBCi Technology News page. Where's the impartial reporting by the BBC, and go beyond the reporting its done to question the set up? This is one sided reporting. Or can't the BBC... [Read More]

» Crunchgear: Deafies are a good cause from Grumpy Old Deafies
Crunchgear thinks deaf people are a good cause: Someone using technology for a good cause and not just to pump out more megapixels or whowhatsits per second. Wish sites would see past feeling sorry for us or rather people trying... [Read More]

Comments

PROTEST! I am submitting a petition to Number 10 Downing Street to protest about the site! One of the Banned Items for selling here - http://www.veesee.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=49 list "Human Parts and Remains". I'm upset I will not be allowed to sell my 10 years of toenail clippings.

On a serious note...on a site that's meant to be for deafies...one of the very first thing I looked at was VeeSeeTV...as I'm always interested in online videos...

And what do I see? A collection of video tracks such as assorted Star Trek clips, Goats in a Tree etc, all dubbed and no subtitles/BSL etc...

Since it falls flat on its face with that alone, I didn't bother looking at anything else (apart from checking to see if I could sell my toenail clippings that is...)

so what gretay? deafblogs is no different, whereas deafread does it so much better.

And whats mo...*%&%£...[SYSTEM ERROR - OUT OF TROLL MEMORY]

Excellent critique of the site. You hit upon all the important points. I admire your sharp eyes and thought patterns!

Perhaps, you can offer the same kind of input about DeafRead.com We are always looking at different ways to improve it.

While it's impossible that a website can be perfect or make everyone happy, I would be still be interested in hearing about any shortcomings that you may identify.

How to improve deafread?

1. Make it more inclusive of the world.... as in other countries, other cultures, other deaf... not other varieties of American experiences. ACKNOWLEDGE THERE IS A WORLD OUTSIDE THE US.

2. Drop MM's blog - we know how crap his stuff is, and DeafRead hasn't cottoned onto his crap blog, posts, whatever you call it. This is an unreasonable request given American penchant for Freedom of Speech. That's OK a little crap must fall into our lives sometimes. [I know MM reads Alison's blogs, so we are in for some fun should he STUMBLE across my comments].

It actually pisses me off that his blog is included in DeafRead, whereas mine which has better quality writing, and better points of view all around, and not so much crap, doesn't make the cut.

3. Stop being so prescriptive about what posts you will highlight in DeafRead, and let people blog. Instead highlight quality writing/ vlogging - as Deafies will incorporate their deaf views/ perspective anyway, and sometimes they don't.

4. Deaf Blogs is infinitely better cos we are the world.

5. Now that I've got that off my chest.... any future advice you want, you will be charged for..... [the meter starts ticking NOW...!

Jarad,

DeafRead.com is 100% American! Keep it that way! Keep out those nasty Brits and the rest of the world, their views matters not.

Hi Ladies and Gents, I'd like to test how much free speech is allowed on this arena and to see whether you actually want answers to the questions Alison raises. I find it interesting only approved people are allowed a voice and that Alison spends much time critiquing and no time at all contacting VeeSee to clarify anything. Should I not be allowed a response to this on this site, I will put it into the front page of my website as a feature, and yes it will be translated by a Deaf person! Anyone who truly wishes to know the aims of the website and benefit from them, rather than trying to inhibit the deaf community from showing their talents and earn money from those talents with VeeSee's support, write to my susiegrant@dsl.pipex.com. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF CHARITY FOR DEAF PEOPLE AND DEAF PEOPLE WHO JUST LIKE TO WINGE INSTEAD OF SUPPORT. I WANT TO SEE THEM ACHIEVE ALL BY THEMSELVES AND ALISON I WILL SUCCEED IN DOING THIS. Best wishes, Susie

PS to my previous comments, anyone who would like to support me in correcting some of the things Alison raises, I would be more than happy to hear from you. You time, as all my contributors are, would be paid for. Best wishes, Susie G

Susie - approved people?

"only approved people are allowed a voice".

Explain please, as I'm not clear what you are getting at. Since you've never commented on my blog before, I am interested. For information, I don't have a personal "approved people" list. What is one anyway?!

From comments there is a failure to get what blogging is. This is just my space, where I share my thoughts and enter a conversation with wider blogosphere. I would encourage anyone to set up a blog.

Furthermore, coming across with threats! 'If you don't do this, then I will do'. Hello? I do not want to engage in this manner. If you want to put something about this on your site, just go ahead and do it. In fact I would encourage you. This is not a war, as a person I hold nothing against you. Am just evaluating a site how I see it. Listen to your audience. Its about an open conversation, for better quality. Embrace it.

It seems I'm voicing what more than a few people are thinking out there. I say this, because I've been randomly told without prompt. This post for whatever reason has had a bit of feedback (direct). To me, it was just a post about another site. I only wish some of these people would comment on here, and actually engage in conversation so everyone can learn.

My advice to you: listen. Listening is hard, especially when its about something you have expended a lot of resources on and it comes across as critical.

I pulled together an analysis of VeeSee as an end user. I do not even pretend to know the ins and outs of what is behind the project. I don't. I did not even intend to write, anything apart from end user. I'm just telling you what I am seeing, as someone not involved. Websites are about presentation and communication. Right now, VeeSee is doing it badly. If you are totally about something else, then you need to communicate this to your audience.

As a user one should not have to contact the site owner to ask for clarification. When people go to a site, they expect to use it on face value, and they rarely contact an administrator about something. I offered an analysis of what I am seeing or perceiving end user wise. A lot of companies would jump at this chance, as it assists them to build a better product.

Alison, I think you make very good points.

Am rather unclear what the purpose of veesee is? Susan it would be very useful if you could post a one-line aim in the comment box here? I have surfed all over veesee but cannot see what it's for? Why isn't it Deaf-led? Sorry if I have missed the obvious ;o)

Jen

I have now posted a reply to your inaccuracies on to the VeeSee website. DO NOT USE MY LOGO AGAIN you do not have permission to use it. It is very sad you choose not to support the deaf community who you purport to represent when you have openly said on another blog that you are not a sign language user! I have made a copy of this posting! As a newscaster I am very interested to see if you have the courage to be open about it. If you are not I will expose you!

Please let me know which blog I have said I am not a sign language user, so can iron this out. Just see it as weird to bring up, since you've interpreted for me a few times in the past (professional situations: interviews, meetings).

Chill out. Check out sites such as Techcrunch etc, where products get reviews all the time (logos included). Am sending some traffic your way, plus given an analysis. That's what blogging is about, and there is a need to understand it.

Your comments re this site, I can't find them. Comes down to inaccessible navigation again. :(

Only thing I was told (by someone) that is new, "For those using Blogs and Vlogs about VeeSee - please do not use our logo without our permission. You can ask for permission by contacting contact@veesee.co.uk. VeeSee is currently awaiting Trademark approval."

This comes across as trying to control Deaf people. Immediately I ask, only allowed to say good things about our site, then we will give you permission? Where is the community ownership? If you want to create a COMMUNITY site, then it needs to have a community sense of ownership. Doing the I OWN THIS SITE, makes me want to stick two fingers up at it, and no way want to contribute. Other sites have made this mistake in the past, learn from them.

That is what you 'post a comment says'... how can you not know that?? When you claim a new website owner should know everything???

Hi Jen....you are the first deaf person I have seen on this blog to have a positive and open mind! It is for YOU!! and for what YOU have to say. You send me your views, either in writing or in a video and I will show it on VeeSee. My heart and soul it to show what deaf people want to say, so let me have your views and then judge the website.. Not on what you have NOT SAID!! Come on give me your views I would love to have them....and PS I would love to have Alison's views too and she know that!!!!! Susiexx

I'd like to say "well said" to Alison. Her comments about VeeSee are spot on. And yes, I know I'm actually on there myself, but I do have my reasons (which I will discuss on my blog).

Reading Susie's responses to Alison's post, I'm very disappointed to see that Susie has taken them personally, when it was not Ali's intention to attack her. In fact, she does applaud her efforts. She merely offers constructive criticism, which should be taken on board in a positive way as a way of improving the website. After all, without criticism, the project will merely stagnate.

I do not see anything in Ali's post that suggests she is trying to prevent Deaf people from achieving. Her comments are more to do with the way the project is being delivered.

Will post more on my blog soon.

As a person I will accept any feedback and critism you care to mention, when it comes to deaf people trying to hold back or pull other deaf members down just because it doesn't fit into their little box of reasoning, I have no time for that. That time is OVER. The deaf community will show itself to be GREAT and FAB and Wonderful and if you can't cope with that, it is your problem, not the Deaf Community's problem.

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Alison you need to read what is in front of your posting responses!

For those of you who truly want to be part of a global deaf community website that can assist you in selling yourself by extremly talented and well-known deaf people just let me know. Because VeeSee has many big D deaf people who think the site has massive potential for the Deaf Community and they will do their utmost to support you in realising your potential. Do not allow anyone from preventing you realise that potential! I have a vision for the deaf community JOIN ME!!!

If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting

Okay now I know what you are referring to, I am able to respond. That's a standard Movable Type platform message (seen across many blogs). i.e. comment spam protection. You'll find it on other blogs that uses the same platform. It is not written by me.

E mail addresses *automatically* get graded, in relation to how much they are a "trusted commenter" or not. This is not *my* trust, but *spam protection* trust.

i.e. you are not a spammer, or some computer bot. More you post / verified as okay, (not a spammer), your grade goes up.

Otherwise this blog just gets filled with ads for viagra, and the likes. I use a few spam protection shields, standard ones that come with Movable Type, Typekey authentication, Askimet, and a couple of other plugins I forget. Have to, otherwise get flooded.

If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)
Still no anser Alison as to why you are putting such a message before replies??

PS In terms of interpreting I pride myself on improving because of the deaf community's responses and critique about me. To which they willl testify!! Just give VeeSee a go and I am only one person endeavouring to show your wonderful versality and talent and knowlege....if you wish to knock that down....hearing people are not gonna want to know you.....So please wise up!! And allow yourselves to blossom! There is a time to be political and outraged and a time just to SUPPORT!!! Other very eminent deaf people have done that ...SO JUST WISE UP!!! Allow YOU TO BE YOU!!! AND JUST LET IT HAPPEN....AND SEND IN YOUR VIDEOS INSTEAD OF TALKING!!!!

ps Alison I am not going to humiliate you in front of your audience!!!!

PS Alison ...you should not be revealing when an interpreter has worked for you ...it goes against the ethic of interpreting and leaves you exposed to say WHY they were interpreting for you - in order to defend themselves!!! Be careful about what you say online!!

Alison you are so sad!! Get real babe the Deaf Community is gonna override you!! Internet big time!! Hey and do tell me where your VLOG is!!!??? Susie who wishes you were in the Deaf Community's boat???

I repeat anybody who wants to be in 2007 - and enjoy a new media JOIN VEESEE AND LET US KNOW YOUR VIEWS ON HOW TO IMPROVE IT!!! WORK FROM THE INSIDE - DON'T BE A MOANER ON THE OUTSIDE - BE AN INSIDE REPORTER AND CRITIQUE WHAT WE DO!!! Susie XX

A Person is well within their rights to talk about who interpreted for them in a given situation, as it is THEIR SITUATION, not the interpreter's. An interpreter does not have that right though.

Besides how do u think us Deafies recommend interpreters without revealing who interpreted for us?

You are playing with fire Alison .....interpreters know a lot about who they interpret for and your are exposing the deaf community by what you do and what you wish to provoke by your own shortcomings. You are a very very silly young woman in thinking you can do that. I WOULD LIKE TO SAY OUTRIGHT THAT ALISON DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPOSE DEAF COMMUNTIY MEMBERS IN THE WAY SHE ADVOCATES IS OK!! You Alison, show no regard for the safeguard of the deaf community and you are very very unsafe as a deaf spokesperson. I would like to advocate that deaf people BOYCOTT YOUR RAMBLINGS as truly making intepreting for the deaf community VULNERABLE!! DO NOT ALLOW HER TO DO THIS. ....she is putting he own EGO against the safety of the deaf community's wellbeing!!

Haven't bothered to comment here, as cannot be arsed to respond to Susie's hyperemotionalism and unwarranted personal attacks against Alison.

If you are keen, you can be arsed, you can read my response here, http://alltheyoungdudes.radio666fm.com/?p=138

And Susie, don't bother trying to comment on my blog the same way you are commenting here, you will be banned.

From reading this thread, Susie's vitriolic comments are quite like Veesee website - colourful, all over the place and lacking in structure.

If the website consumer-orientated, you gotta take the negatives with the positives. As a former web programmer (many moons ago when ASP was cutting edge), the stickiness of your website wasn't there. Alison's comments were spot on. When I entered the site and after several failed attempts to load several video clips I immediately lost interest.

Alison used considerable amount of effort and time to explain why it is not that good objectively. I wonder if the critique came from a different person, would you receive it more favourably? Anyway, you would have to pay a princely sum to get a deep critical analysis report like that, usually from business consultants. If you want to make the website a success, you gotta bite your tongue in face of criticisms and get on with it. It is a shame you cannot take her away useful criticisms and use it.

Don't get mad, improve and improvise. It is not too late and go easy on the threats. Chill.

I'm sick of this! Remember what Clive Mason said in his speech when he won the media thingy award a year ago, that we should not pull down other people!

Susie is developing an opportunity for deaf community to develop and grow our talents. You want feedback to Susie, just say so and don't dig yourself into a hole!

It is known that deaffies complain a lot. Change that and be positive. Don't waste energy being nasty!

Let show the world, deaffies are good bunch and co-operate with the world. Remember, if the mountain won't go to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain. Go to people and talk/sign to them about deaf issues. Don't nag at Susie!

Tony, are you serious that you don't provide "critical analysis", then you're obviously not supporting better access for deaf.

This is my last message, as I don't usually read this site (just referred to it by a friend, who was dismayed by the awful comments!)

Good luck to deaffies showing your talents, whether on VeeSee or otherwise.

Some notes:

1) Clive Mason is not God. Nor is Susie, for that matter!

2) Since when was "Deaf" spelled with two Fs?

3) Tony's comment was very clear and 'on the ball'. Have you ever heard of web 2.0?

Hmm... my websites are a mixture of web 1 and 2. To me, I don't distinguish between one and another, they both compliment each other.

I've had a cursory glance at the site, and can't say I'm engrossed in it, but new websites are hard to start with and win users.

Do take design critiques seriously, these people care enough to give an opinion and obviously think the site is worth improving on.

I'm more shocked at the response from Susie, and isn't going to do herself any favours if she needs material for her website.

One question Susie, if deaf people contribute, what say do they have once the material is on the website?

I hope you reconsider and think again about how you could use these comments to your advantage - as Alison said, they are your viewers/users and they aren't going to come and flock to your site if you won't adapt to encourage them to use your site!

No-link Reg,

If you ever do come back - no, I don't do "critical analysis". You've completely missed my point. In this instance, I am comparing Alison's comments for improvements as "critical analysis". Geddit?!....Yes, I do support access for Deaf but I fail to see how you think that I don't. I have no idea where that came from.

I didn't see Clive Mason's speech but what happened here is not pulling VeeSee down. Yeah we are being critical but it is not out of spite or being negative. There are differences between positive and negative criticisms.