« April 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

May 18, 2007

Subtitlers get arrested!

Boing Boing is carrying a post about subtitlers getting arrested:

In Krakow, Slask, Podlasie, and Szczecin, police arrived at the suspected subtitlers’ homes at 6 a.m. — and took them into custody. The story first appeared on the Polish Linux site, which states that “According to Polish copyright law any ‘processing’ of others’ content including translating is prohibited without permission.” Newspaper accounts report that the detained subtitlers face two years in jail if they’re convicted of illegally publishing copyrighted material — presumably including translated movie dialogue.


It goes onto suggest this stems from the USA:

Bush administration recently put Poland on a copyright "priority watch list," threatening economic sanctions if law enforcement in Poland did not take more forceful action against infringement.


A threat of economic sanctions against e.g. Poland: if you don't sort out the iissue, then we will stop trading with you. US government throwing its weight around, and resorting to bullying smaller countries here? I am not going to dissect that here.

However, I would like to ask the question, are firms or initiatives getting penalised, because people (who hold the original copyright) be bothered to make their content accessible in the first place? Will this affect how Project ReadOn and dotSUB plus any other subtitling output operates? What about genuine subtitling initiatives, because the mainstream cannot be bothered to be inclusive at the start?

Are these initiatives automatically described as "rogue"? In the meantime we are supposed to be denied access, until the companies get their act together, or some law is passed?

Skype for gamers?

Joe altered me to Ars Technica carrying a blog post about Skype busts into casual gaming market:

"People are increasingly using Skype to interact with one another, with many choosing to play simple games like checkers or backgammon," Amery said at the keynote. "However, the tremendous size of Skype's user base makes it an ideal environment for multi-player and community-based games in which people can play against or collaborate with one another."

Whilst these games would only be playable via Skype, and there's issues whether gaming developers will bite the bullet. However, you can see the trend as far as VoIP goes. Imagine trying to use Second Life of WoW, and insisting that people use text to plan e.g. raids in WoW.

Increasingly we are seeing the net mirror society, as far as inaccessibility goes. For the past 10-15 years, Deaf people have enjoyed a relatively easy oasis: the net suddenly presented a world without barriers, information and interaction was accessible. I fear that is about to end, and we are about to take a full loop. Instead of advancing, in many respects the net is about to go backwards. Solutions need to start being developed at the same pace as mainstream advances, with accessibility being a central theme, and not an afterthought.

See also:
A gamer asks for subtitles
Odeo on eBay?

May 15, 2007

Joost (again)

joost.jpgI banged on about Joost last January, where's the subtitles? The only thing I can access is Aardman Productions, and Morph. A side note for international readers, Morph came about because of the need for BSL on television, and first took the form of Vision On. Morph takes me straight back to childhood!

How many Deaf people are involved with beta testing and do they actually get a say in respect of access? There's a thread on the Joost forum in respect of subtitles, interestingly this was not initially presented as a DEAF need, but for speakers of other languages other than English.

Joost has just raised another $45 million in respect of financing, this is presumably on top of the $2.6 billion previously raised. Since they are going to be showing content, e.g. from CNN, does the contract(s) say anything about an obligation to subtitle its output? What laws do you have in respect of captioning, and can it be extended to cover internet television?

I feel a bit powerless here, since Joost is based in the States I know nothing about subtitling / captioning law in that jurisdiction and furthermore how to enforce this. The breaking down of jurisdictional boundaries is redefining the need to understand law around access in other countries, something we as campaigners have had little need to do before. This raises all sorts of issues around the need to create more international partnerships in future.

What I really would like to see on Joost is a sign language channel. Lets have this mainstream, as part of another service. Don't marginalise. And let Deaf people be involved at the core of this, and more importantly lead. One has to be careful here, and ensure a distinction is made between decentralised content (something I've been vocal about recently) in the form of vlogs, with pure television.

If you want a Joost invite, just drop a comment in the box below (include a valid e mail address in the e mail field) or e mail me direct, and I'll wing one your way.

May 11, 2007

Firefox extension to work with third party subtitling sites?

This is an e mail I've just sent to Access Firefox, and copying this into relevant parties, in respect of the need for a plugin plus an open source standard in respect of subtitling by third party sites, and the need to communicate with its end users over subtitling provision. I am hoping that this will generate some action:

Hi Ken

I got your e mail address from Deaf UK Technology, as an e mail of yours was sent there a couple of months ago. You introduced yourself from Access Firefox and were interested in what Firefox extensions Deaf people wanted.

At the time I said on the group plus blogged about this here, that I was interested in a notification to let me know if sound was
being played, and to have the choice of turning this off, or receiving a notification (if I wanted it) that sound was being played.

Since then, there has been some developments in respect of subtitling online, by third party sites. Instead of repeating myself here, I blogged about this. Would you mind taking some time to read this?

This issue is not going to go away, and I see it as becoming more of an issue.

Since one firm cannot subtitle everything on the web (unless your name is something like Google), I can see this becoming a multi company market. e.g. Legislation in the UK for example may push up demand anyway, and with it could be some outsourcing. (I am not suggesting that subtitles away from the main site is the best idea, however, I can see it being one example of a solution).

So how do Deaf people keep up? Expect us to visit each and every site to check if something has been subtitled or not?

To this end, I believe that a Firefox plugin can assist here, not only from the Deaf person's perspective, but the company's too in that it continually reminds users they are there (bit like RSS in this respect). Hopefully, if such a plugin is developed, to include a bundle, where Project ReadOn, dotSUB, any other players are included as a default. Other providers to be added if they enter the market.

I appreciate this would mean some open source standard / API by subtitling sites, in order for these sites to talk to a subtitling version of BlogRovr. I wonder if some partnership could be worked on?

Please forgive me for being forward here, but I would really love to see this addressed. I've copied this into dotSUB and Project ReadOn plus the Open and Closed Project, for their information. I've also copied this into a couple of Deaf people too, as they may be able to offer a perspective.

Unfortunately, I don't have an e mail address for BlogRovr, however there is a contact page on their website if this is a way to go. Just to let you know, I'm also going to blog this, as its something I would like to actively encourage discussion.

Many thanks, Alison

If you have an interest in this field, or something to offer please use the comment box or blog about this and link back. We really need some discussion around this, and for Deaf people to lead the way in what they want.

See also:
Evelyn Glennie at TED, and solving subtitling notification online

Deaf people & Firefox Extensions
Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

May 8, 2007

Evelyn Glennie at TED, and solving subtitling notification online

Last week I came across this TED video of Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body.

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie leads the audience through an exploration of music not as notes on a page, but as an expression of the human experience. Playing with sensitivity and nuance informed by a soul-deep understanding of and connection to music, she talks about a music that is more than sound waves perceived by the human ear. She illustrates a richer picture that begins with listening to yourself, and includes emotion and intent as well as the complex role of physical spaces -- instrument, concert hall and even the bones and body cavities of musician and listener alike.

Except on the website, there's no subtitles.

My first reaction: p*ssed off, etc. Secondly, the website has enough sponsors on there, to easily get funding for subtitling. TED can afford it.

Moving on. All this caused me to wonder, has this been subtitled already? Perhaps at Project ReadOn or dotSUB. Since I can't find it, I assume not, but I can't be sure. Have I searched properly?

How do I know if this video hasn't been subtitled elsewhere? Am I expected to go to each individual site and check? Do an extensive online search? Even if I had video notification via RSS from these sites, who said I could remember everything that appears? I'm not going to. Hopefully, such services are likely to grow in future and a solution needs to be thought of now.

I would like a Firefox extension developed, that works pretty much like BlogRovr but for subtitling. When I go to a site with video, I would like a pop up box to appear to let me know where a video has been subtitled. Just as when you install BlogRovr, it suggests sites that provide subtitling services (to be monitored). In addition, if and when new companies come onto the market, you can add these / configure your extenstion. Call it SubRovr or something? This of course would require some kind of open standard API or blog on the part of existing service providers so they can communicate with the Firefox extension.

Could Access Firefox, Open & Closed Project, subtitling providers and Deaf geeks and anyone else who's interested actually work together to make this happen?

See also:
Deaf people & Firefox Extensions
Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

Crunchgear: Deafies are a good cause

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 to help Deafies, and actually step back here. I for one would like an objective review of VeeSee, from the mainstream. If this was a mainstream site, what would you say? See past the sign language, and what's your take as an iPTV site?

Note to Crunchgear: yes I get the whole long tail thing, and the point of your post re niche markets. Specifically relating to Deaf people, there is a need to utilise developments online particilarly around sign language. There is much needed to be done also, particularly in respect of inclusiveness. To this end, I would call on people like Joost and venture capitalists, to work in partnership with Deaf companies such as Remark! (and its counterparts in other countries) to produce sign language iPTV. Allow the mainstream to educate and work in partnership with minority communties, to share knowledge. Such initiatives have to be done in partnership with and led by Deaf people.

Deaf people reading this post, I would encourage you to participate here, to get our ideas across to the mainstream.

See also:
Vee See makes BBCi News Technology: Paternalism 2.0? (Noesis)
Vee See makes BBCi News Technology: Paternalism 2.0? (Grumpy Old Deafies)
Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me

May 7, 2007

Speeding up YouTube download time


Speedbit has had a million downloads in 49 days. A million people via word of mouth can't be wrong! It speeds up videos via YouTube. Good for watching signed videos, and no need to press pause to wait for the thing to load.


Shame this doesn't work with other video output online, could really make use of it on other applications.

Via Scoblezier.

Vee See makes BBCi News Technology: Paternalism 2.0?


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. The issue with DEAF stuff, is that media outlets can infrequently see past the charity case that and their interpretation of people with broken ears might be, which leads to somewhat odd media reporting.

It is Deaf Awareness week in the UK, thus people come out in droves to show how they are helping us.

Don't get me wrong, I want signed content on the web, and do not want to knock effort down. However, this is locked in centralised content, which the rest of the web is moving away from. UK Deafies existing in their own bubble?

I get the drive for a tv channel online, and something flagged for years by various people. I would also question if this is actually tv, but instead locked in vlog style videos that could easily be hosted on respective sites.

We really do not need paternalism 2.0 in the UK? Why are Deaf people of the mindset over here that they cannot host their own sites, blogs and vlogs, and need someone to hold their hand? Makes you all come across as charity cases.

See also:
Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me

May 2, 2007

Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity

ustreamtv.jpgA few weeks back, Chris Pirillo was communicating to an audience via ustream.tv. Chris was talking via a box, and anyone who had stumbled on the page could participate in a text chat underneath.

Except I couldn't understand what Chris was saying, yet got the one sided conversation via the text chat. Apart from the fact I could see the implications for interactive television specifically sign languages, and bilingual communication here, I became frustrated. All I could see was online space that made my world more accessible 10 years ago, was about to go full circle. The inaccess gap was becoming wider again. Incidentally, I experienced the same thing watching Scoble casting from his car the following day, except it was a bit more visual so slightly easier to put up with.

Back to Chris' chat. I entered calling myself DEAF, just so geeks would immediately get it. I said that I couldn't understand a word, great idea but where's the subtitles? Robert Scoble answered saying something along the lines of it was too expensive.

readon.gifSince Mateo Gutierrez had recently contacted me to let me know about Project Read On (which I meant to review, but life got in the way - its since been reviewed elsewhere, will possibly come back to this). I gave Scoble this link, just to let him there was possibilities or solutions out there. Robert replied that he was happy for his videos to be hosted anywhere, so they could be subtitled.

Bottom line: I've always wanted to access the ScobleShow. Incidentally, I'd flagged this up with Robert before via his blog, and he had responded regarding the need to budget for this.

dotsub.pngSince mentioning Project Read On, I've become aware of dotSUB acts like a Wikipedia when it comes to subtitling something. Anyone can volunteer to subtitle stuff, and text can be modified, added to etc.

I would really recommend you watch this video, produced by Rocketboom:

Rocketbottom and DotSub via CommonCraft

This is a great move forward, but I've got some random thoughts:

- I want the Scoble Show on there, and Robert please tell the world about it, there is a need for volunteers and access matters;
- Same goes for ZeFrank, I want to be able to access him too;
- The tech world needs to take this seriously, Anil Dash published The Old Boys Club is for Losers a few months back, its a compelling post (check out the links too), be more inclusive and come up with solutions;
- Going back to subtitles / captions. There should be a link under vlogs to say they are subtitled at a certain place, a bit like an 888 logo in the UK or CC symbol in the States. Don't rely on chance encounters of people finding the accessible version;
- There needs to be some decent discussion around access, with the view of access online in the future. It would be cool if self regulation could come out of this, but has experience taught us that relying on goodwill is not enough? I get the self governance of cyberspace, just media content will increase through these streams in future. How are we going to interact?

So many thoughts ...

See also:
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

May 1, 2007

Video: how to use RSS

Here goes, beating the same drum again. If you aren't using RSS already, you really need to.

I've used RSS for 3 years and its totally changed the way I've interacted online. Here's an entry I did back in 2004 (my thoughts / understanding of has changed since then). I still find it difficult to comprehend that people who aren't using RSS in 2007. However, there's many people out there who still don't know, and I've frequently encountered the frustration of having to explain.

If you still don't have a clue what RSS is, I would suggest you watch this video (yes, its subtitled):

When you've watched it, do something about it. There's only one way to really get RSS, and that is to actually try it out and give it say a month's trial.

As for people who have websites (banging on the same drum again), if your website doesn't support a RSS feed I really am not interested in what you have to say and I'm not going back. This is the same for many people, and to this end I would suggest that anyone who has a website addresses this.

Which brings me onto the next point, not enough website designers in Deaf circles within the UK know about RSS and incorporate them into web design. I've made this point before, and I just get, 'the designer doesn't know how', or 'the designer says not enough people use RSS'. Absolute rubbish! Try something like FeedFire.

Video link via Grant W Laird Jr