Why I love Captioning for Conferences

I had been to conferences with live transcription before, but SRCCON 2014 was my first time seeing them at a mainstream conference. The transcription services even inspired a battle between a debate champion and the captioner. Three years later, and I’ve gone back the transcripts a few times a phrase or remind myself of the conversation.

I am generally a person without any hearing related disability. I’m sure years of playing music, working concerts, and listening to headphones has left me with some hearing loss, but in general, I can hear at conferences. Except sometimes the room is loud. Or a person near me is talking. Or the mic isn’t held close enough to the speaker. In those cases, I’m reminded of one of the top reasons I love live captioning for tech conferences.

Anyone in the room can become a non-hearing person

Anyone has been to a conference has sat near someone that needed to comment on the presentation while it is going on.  I’m sorry if that person was me for you. Having the ability to see what was said, helps me when I miss something that was spoken.

Real-time captioning also allows the audience to be less focused on taking notes since the talk is already available in text. Some people are less auditory of learners and thus the written record allows them
learn using a method that works better for them.

Transcripts allow the speaker to see what we said

Like many speakers, I have verbal ticks that I fall back on. Transcripts allow me to see how many times I say “you know” or begin a sentence with “so”. The live transcript can also be utilized to help create a blog post from your talk.

People need it to attend

As much as captions help me, they can make the difference between someone being able to learn at an event and someone not being able to learn. 360 million people have disabling hearing loss. Captioning of conferences can help make it possible for that otherwise could not participate to participate.

The other day, a video made the rounds of a man being gifted Enchroma glasses and experiencing color for the first time.  Helen Hou-Sandí asked the question “What if we thought about web accessibility work as bringing these moments to people?”  What if we also thought about event accessibility as bringing these moments to people?

The right to learn is the right to earn. Education, both formal and informal, is the foundation for advancement. Captioning can break down a barrier that prevents people from learning. By enabling all people to learn, we enable all people to earn.

Random Thoughts on…WordPress?

I wasn't sure how to title this one. I went to the WordPress NYC "Help Desk" meet-up on Wednesday and learned a lot about things users of WordPress are struggling with.   So I guess in some ways it is random thoughts on me learning more.

  • The biggest thing people struggle with is themes they bought off Theme Forest. Most of them are hard to configure and include so many damn options that it's easy to screw up a site and get lost trying to fix it.
  • One of the worst parts of these themes is that when there is an issue, I can't just open up the source from everywhere in the world and trouble shoot.  If they used themes from WordPress.org, I could help them.
  • The first question someone asked me about related to Gutenberg. People are paying attention to it. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing. 
  • I was referred to as a WordPress Celebrity and it was a bit off putting. The people that make and contribute to WordPress are just people. Some of us have the privilege of contributing to WordPress. Others have the privilege of maintaining WordPress. But both come from points of privilege as they require time, energy, and money (for a computer, internet access, etc.),  but ultimately we shouldn't be considered celebrities. That's not to say it isn't nice to be thanked every once in a while, but I don't know anyone who contributes to WordPress for fame. 
  • It's important that we don't assume people know the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Especially with the lines getting more and more blurred due to "WordPress.com Business".
  • Finding the right theme is still #HardAsFuck for most users. I think that no matter how great WordPress the application
    is, until people find the right theme for them, we are likely to lose them.

Random Thoughts on my email norms

Over the years, I’ve sent a few thousand emails.  Less than some, more than others and I’ve developed a handful of normative behaviors in the process that others may find useful.

  • My default on a group conversation is to always reply all.  Communication is oxygen and I figure it is best to error on the side of overcommunicating.  People can always choose to self-filter.  I love that gmail includes an option to make reply-all the default. Everyone should set it that way.
  • If I don’t reply all, in the first line I will use a minus symbol so the rest of the chain knows who (if anyone) has been removed.
  • Concurrently, if I add people, I use a plus symbol so the rest of the chain knows as well.
  • The only time I use BCC is to remove someone who made an introduction, and I will state that they are being BCCed
  • I try to make the subject line clear and simple. The subject line should be evergreen (it should encompass the entirety of the conversation that needs to take place)
  • If it can all be said in the subject line, I’ll end it with EOM so people know they don’t need to open it.
    • This is less of an issue with chat programs like Slack being available.
  • I hate email signatures that are more than a line or two.
  • If my response can be said completely in emoji, you bet your ass I’m going to do it.
    • I do only use emoji for positive responses though.  No one wants to see 👎🏻 as the response to a request.
  • I try to avoid sarcasm.  It is much harder to be sarcastic in writing than it is in a higher fidelity form of communication.

What are your email norms? What email etiquette do you follow? Share it in the comments.

Random thoughts on one month of daily publishing

On December 9th I published Random Thoughts on Selecting Speakers for conferences. I didn’t realize it then, but I was on my way to a streak of daily publishing. Here are some random thoughts and stats about the experience:

  • Always Press Publish, which I thought was going to be a throwaway New Years Eve post ended up being my most read post. It started as some tweet advice, and I thought more about it as I went throughout the day before sitting down to write it out.
  • Some days I really struggled to find something to say, but once my streak got going, I felt I needed to keep it going.
  • I don’t think I said the word fuck enough over the last month, so I’m going to say fuck twice in this sentence.
  • I wonder about impact with my writing (shout out to Greg Linch). Seeing comments, retweets, snapchats, and most importantly pingbacks/trackbacks makes it worthwhile. Seeing Jeremy Felt press publish The Powers of Money and Community makes me feel like my writing had some impact on someone I respect a great deal.
  • I want to keep my streak going.  I also want for it to continue to feel natural.
  • Some of the posts are drafts that I’ve sat on for a while that always felt half finished. I still have 116 drafts and that number only got bigger over the last month.
  • Twitter brings in more traffic than anything else. I was impressed to see Facebook bringing in traffic even though I deleted my account before this streak started. I wish it wasn’t so much of a walled garden and I could see how it was being shared and what people had to say.
  • The post status API would likely need to not suck for that to really be possible.
  • After I did my collection of best of random thoughts 2016, I felt like I couldn’t do any more.  There were a few times that I think this format would have worked well and missed it since I boxed myself into the artificial corner.

So the big question is if I should keep the streak going.  I see no reason to end it now, but only time will tell.

Tim Raines deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

“This is probably the first year that I really, really feel like I have a chance,” said Raines, who played for the Chicago White Sox from 1991-95. “I was 23 votes away last year. Up until that point I thought about it, when people asked me about it, and the only thing I wanted to see was how many votes I got. But this year, realizing I was only 23 votes away, I think about it a lot more than I ever have in the past.”

Source: Is Raines’ long wait for Hall of Fame finally over?

A long time ago, I read that the two ways baseball players entered the Hall of Fame was to either have a magic number ( 500 HR, 3000 Hits, 300 Wins) or to have spent a long time being better than everyone else in the leage at what they do. Tim Raines falls into that category. For the majority of his 23 years in the major leagues, Tim Raines was a top leadoff hitter in baseball and an above average fielder.

Looking at his stats, you can see that he is fifth all time for stolen bases, spent seven seasons with a top-five Offensive WAR, ten seasons as a top-ten Range Factor/Game as LF, and was a seven-time allstar.

The biggest problem Raines has is that Ricky Henderson played at the same time.  Henderson is the best leadoff hitter baseball has ever seen. Compared to Henderson, Raines looks pedestrian.  Compared to everyone else, he looks amazing.  In this, his final season of eligibility, I hope to see Tim Raines elected to the hall of fame.

The Rise Of Community Lead Media – And Demise Of Social Networks

Social media is broken for most of us. The myth of it being a democratic or meritocratic system isn’t holding up to scrutiny. We’re learning that it’s not the place to start thoughtful discussions, vet new ideas, or find complex solutions to niche problems. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wondrous place for serendipitous snark between celebrities, world leaders, and the public, but the majority of us are spectators.

Source: The Rise Of Community Lead Media – And Demise Of Social Networks

My buddy Cyrus, makes some really great points about Social Media and the fact that it really is a publishing platform, but one where he points out “…we can all publish, we aren’t promised that anyone is going to read or respond.”

I think his platform Kapuno aims to solve this problem where it’s less about who you are and more about what you have to say. I worry though that we are a world that values celebrity too much though and often times it is the who that matters.

Review: Birth Junkies

I recently read Birth Junkies: Labor Support and Resistance in American Birth which is available free in pdf form. Going in, I knew very little about doulas or birthing support outside of the recent american tradition of hospital based OB/GYN doctors. That changed right away as I worked through this ~100 page anthropological investigation.

Much of what I discovered related to how the current title of doula is a recent invention and is one that describes a role that traditionally was filled by the elder woman in a community a birthing mother was a part of and that hospital and medical based births are a relatively recent concept. I also learned about challenges that doulas face in the current climate of medicated births and how they work to help birthing mothers.

After finishing this, I’m convinced that a doula is someone that every birthing mother should have.

Avoiding easy | Andrew Spittle

if a feature or product were legitimately easy the user would not be writing in to support about how stuck they are.

The best support is a conversation. The best support happens when a user learns how to do something new and you learn about how your product can be better.

via Avoiding easy by Andrew Spittle.

If you ever provide custom support, this article is a must read.