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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?

March 11, 2007

Twitter

TwitterHow many of you are using Twitter out there?

I've got a bit of an early adapter streak in me, when it comes to software, particularly social software. I just love to explore how the net can be used for productivity even collaboration, I will try software for trying its out sake. I'm curious to find out where this is all going, and immediately my head will go into overdrive around possibilities. Tony on the other hand, just accuses me of having ADD.

Twitter was one of these sites, and I signed up 4-5 months ago, just to satisfy my curiousity, thinking the novelty would die. Now its March, and I'm still there, as half the geeks on this planet. Its not something to be mocked at, and one to watch. It has been developed by Obviously / Evan Williams (the person who developed Blogger before it was sold to Google).

Twitter describes itself as:

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!

One would have to ask the question around privacy (people can manage what information they reveal here, or turn their account onto so only approved friends can see their posts). The other one is, do people really want to know the small details of your life? Perhaps not, and there's certainly no proclaiming that you are important enough. However, in some part there is something compelling about mundane details of people's lives and a way of keeping in contact with friends.

However, Twitter more than than this. Whilst you can do all the above on a one to one basis, with any of your friends, this is a many to many application. I just wish that my friends would sign up like right now, and use.

On a personal level, its a curious thing for me, as I'm not a sms fan, and friends know I won't turn on my phone for days, even weeks. Sms is reserved for really have to communication. The keyboard drives me insane, and if I really have to send a sms, I will resort to using Skype. Whilst I rarely Twitter via mobile, I have done and wish more people would join in.

If you want to read more on this try Mamamusings and Ross Mayfield (both blogs I've read since 2004). Even the Guardian has picked up on it. Also see my previous post about Twapper.

So who uses it? If you are considering signing up, you really need to add some friends: real or imaginary, otherwise its no fun.

Twapper!

Forget Twitter, there's now Twapper!

When are we going to see the video version then? What would it be called? Imagine sign language updates, and a group sign language conversation. Cool.

Update: WAP and grouping coming to Twitter. Grouping is really needed, and something I asked about a few days ago via Twitter.