Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favourite Webslinger Posts of 2011

As the old year is almost over, I have a tradition of recalling my favourite blog posts from the preceding year.

Here are my favourite posts from the past year. The provide a snapshot of my evolving interests in online topics and my personal past-times.

Chicago Is My Kind of Town
To celebrate a milestone birthday of mine, my wife took me on a trip to Chicago. I was greatly impressed by the city's cool use of digital media.

Pondering Effects of Foursquare
After eagerly adopting (and blogging about) the geosocial location-based mobile service, Foursquare I cooled off to its use. I've resumed using it in late 2011 as it is has become the prime LBS and perhaps only one to hit critical mass. This post recounts how I uses it and my hopes for it to offer richer experiences.

IPTV - TV over the Internet with Bell Fibe
After years of using rabbit ears, I got my family cable TV for Christmas last year. I got Bell's new Fibe service, which is delivered over the Internet. The blog post details some of its pros and cons. But recently Bell Fibe launched some great new apps, including Facebook and Twitter - so I'm liking it even more now.

Types of Geotargetted Information
My doctoral research this year has been laying down ground work on on central concepts for location-based services. This posts looks into the nature of various forms of geotargetted information.

Elegy for Yahoo
When I first started using the Internet - first email, calendars and web searching, then photo sharing, blogging, and folksonomies it was all via Yahoo. But when Yahoo "updated" their services and didn't support syncing with my BlackBerry I sadly had to quit using them.  I believe my experience is indicative of Yahoo's overall fate.

TEDx LibrariansTO - An Idea Worth Spreading
I'm not a fan of the elitism of TED conferences, but I think their format for presentations is highly effective. This posts recaps what I found particularly effective about the TED format, as I experienced at a TEDx event.

A good month so I have two favourites:

McLuhan Centenary
2011 was the hundredth anniversary of Toronto's media visionary Marshall McLuhan. His program is now housed at the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto (where I'm studying).  There were lots of events to mark his centennary and this posts highlights some of McLuhan's bon mots on media.

Good Things Grow in Ontario
Foodland Ontario ran one of the most fun and effective social media campaigns that I've heard of (and I don't just say that as my kid entered).

August and September
- No posts; on vacation to Alaska and Whistler and then back to iSchool.

Locative Media Innovation Day
Location based services and locative media are the subject of my doctoral research, so I was really excited to attend a local conference on the subject on Toronto's new premier conference venue, TIFF.

Blogging is History
iSchool often has great speakers. This blog post captured a public lecture on archiving considerations for bloggers. I was surprised by how many important considerations I - and I'm sure many other bloggers - was missing.

The Top 15 Canadians in Digital Media
I particularly like this post on an article I wrote for Backbone Magazine for a few reasons. For one, I I think it is important to honour Canadians making significant contributions to the digital media sphere, and I think this article highlights 15 incredible Canadians. But also, this article began as a blog post I wrote for Canada Day in 2008. It's great to see something that started here evolve into something more prominent.

2011 also saw the loss of my mentor and digital pioneer, Liz Metcalfe. Canada's online scene is not the same without her and we greatly miss her.

I blogged more in 2011 than I have in years. But I missed a post for September 29th of 2011 which was the five year anniversary of Webslinger. What began as an experiment in blogging - and despite occasional neglect and even considerations of abandonment - has become a vital part of my academic and personal life.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Top 15 Canadians in Digital Media

A blog post that I started a couple years ago in honour of Canada Day to track notable Canadians working in digital media has continued to grow over the years. Backbone Magazine asked me to write an article on this, so I selected 15 Canadians whose contributions to digital media was particularly outstanding.

The article, The Top 15 Canadians in digital media, is the November/December cover story for the print edition of Backbone Magazine. But the article is also available online on Backbone's website (along with other of my blog posts).

The editor of the magazine also started a discussion on LinkedIn to hear from other people on who else should be added to the list. I'd love to keep this list going - encompassing more people and a broader spectrum of industries and roles.

So please offer any suggestions you can think of either on the LinkedIn group or here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Practitioner barriers to diffusion and implementation of web accessibility

My research on the adoption challenges of web accessibility that I conducted during my master's research has been published this month in an academic journal.  The article Practitioner barriers to diffusion and implementation of web accessibility is published in the journal "Technology and Disability" (Volume 23, Number 4).

The paper looked at how as people are increasingly integrating online activities into their daily lives, disabled people are often impeded from accessing websites due to code and design barriers. Despite guidelines on how to improve web accessibility that have been around since the early days of the Web, accessibility adoption remains low. The responsibility to implement web accessibility tends to fall on web practitioners, yet prior scholarship has failed to adequately consult this group on their barriers to adoption.

I conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with web practitioners from  various sectors, locations, and job duties. I found that current social and individual values, inadequate guidelines and support, and monetary demands are halting the diffusion of web accessibility. These factors perpetuate an artificial construct of online disability and impede developments towards an inclusive Web medium.

The paper offered a model and recommendations to remediate this environment and thus improve accessibility rates. I have previously posted my recommendations on this blog, but my model has been updated and I will include it here.

The various factors affecting web accessibility. Societal foundations include education and training, media and industry, law and policy, attitudes towards disability, market forces, and customer demand. Stakeholder 
Perceptions include those of the website owner and web practitioner. Issues arising during web development apply during the initial site design, maintenance and ongoing  enhancement, and during redesign. The tools and resources that are relevant include  guidelines, support material, authoring tools, testing support, and hired experts. End user factors include trans-coding abilities, user agents, and assistive

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this research either as participants or as reviewers!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Answer My Survey on Sense of Place & Location Based Services

Over the past few months, I’ve been exploring how location-based services and geotargetted information affect our relationship to the places we encounter. More people are using these mobile applications, including Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Places, SCVNGR, Layar, and a seeming endless array of apps to help us locate and learn more about everything from where we parked our car to the nearest restaurant.

Despite the growing popularity of location-based services, they still have not been well studied.  My PhD work is examining the interplay of people, mobile applications, and space. One of my first steps is to uncover how sense of place is formulated and how location-based surveys may affect this. 

As such, I’m conducting a survey on location-based services (LBS) and sense of place. I think it is important to hear from mobile device users to understand how their usage of LBS might influence sense of place. This research will be used for coursework for my PhD studies at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

I will be posting a summary of the findings here on the blog so that we can all better understand this growing technological trend.

Update December 20, 2011: The survey is now closed, but if you have thoughts on how location based services affect your sense of a place, please share them below.