Music posters on a wall
Business 2.0, Social media & networking, Software & web applications

Where should we (virtually) meet?

Recently I had occasion to kick of an interesting and inspiring dialogue with some colleagues and friends around the idea of digital making (a subject that, for those of you that know me from my time with the IDX Initiative, is close to my heart).

One of the things we were discussing/thinking about is how the recent changes to the school curriculum to include coding (one of the more positive developments, among plenty of not so good bits) will have a big impact on teachers. I suspect many will be thrust into a position where they need to pick these ideas and concepts up quickly, and conversely that the resources currently available are not yet at a standard to meet their needs.1

Having had the privilege of meeting a bunch of digital makers2, and had some great conversations with teachers wanting to engage in these sorts of activities, I felt it would be useful to connect these two groups, and using “off the shelf” social networking tools seemed to make the most sense.

What seemed like a “no brainer” raised some interesting questions for me around social network tools and how we engage with them. Continue reading

Business 2.0, Design, Software & web applications, Standards

Ubi — how ubiquitous computing might advance web accessibility

Ross Dawson posted about an interesting Kickstarter project, Ubi which provides a device that plugs into an electrical outlet and provides voice-activated access to a variety of services, including the internet.

While there is reference to a key target group for the device being people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments, the example photos and use scenarios outlined in the video and on the Kickstarter page point to a much broader audience and set of uses.

Thinking about the ability for browsing the internet using such a device, I’m reminded of the importance for developers of sites to ensure they’re using web standards and best practices to ensure the accessibility of their sites, and to provide open APIs to key data to enable custom applications that would run on devices like the Ubi to access relevant data. The reason I suggest this is, essentially, the device is a screen reader applied in quite a different context/use case to what such technology would traditionally be considered in.

I’m intrigued by the possibilities that a device like the Ubi presents. It will be interesting to see how these types of devices evolve and proliferate in the coming years, and how that further impacts the development of online applications and websites for the delivery of services and social innovations.

Business 2.0, Software & web applications, Sustainability

Sustainability Challenge

On Thursday I attended the launch of the Sustainability Challenge programme, being promoted by Models of Success & Sustainability (MOSS). (There’s currently no web presence for the programme, though some information is contained in the MOSS PDF brochure. More info on the Sustainability Challenge website.)

It is quite an interesting programme modeled around a group board game supporting organisations in providing educational material about sustainability, promoting key points for discussion and incorporating anonymous polling (or auditing) tools.

During Thursday’s session we participated in some demonstration rounds of the game within groups. Even though we weren’t able to get the effect of a full workshop (due to time constraints), I was impressed with the promise of the tool.

It is designed to be run in a workshop mode, and it was a well designed tool that incorporated competitive spirit in a constructive way to enhance learning. And while the focus of the session on Thursday was environmental sustainability, the programme itself covers a much broader set of areas, including diversity and other social factors.

The customisation options alluded to by MOSS and Sustainability Challenge International (co-designers of the game, along with input from Swinburne University and Baker & McKenzie) seem quite strong too. There also seems to be a vision of “crowdsourcing” questions and answers for the game as well.

The programme seems ideally suited to larger organisations and CSR departments, though if the costs are reasonable (I’m not yet sure what the programme’s price point is) would also be appropriate for smaller group settings.