Content creation is hard work, and I need to get back into the swing of it. I have several lengthy tutorials sitting in my drafts, and I need to finish them, and I think the only real way to get back into the swing of content creation is to practice. So I’ve decided to take up this blogging challenge so that I can do that, as well as find new content to read and absorb. There are a lot of things floating around my brain regarding business, the tech landscape, and the web development landscape specifically, and I’d like to start getting those things out of my brain and onto my website where I can flesh them out better. My plan is to not turn over all my thoughts to social media platforms and instead document them on my own site, linking to them in larger posts where appropriate, and of course changing them when appropriate. Plus this will be a really great way to share what I learn by sharing my notes on the books I’m reading, (there are several professional development as well as technical books on my anticipated reading list for 2019), as well as the articles written by others, especially experts in particular fields like accessibility. I’m looking forward to this, and I think it will be a lot of fun. If you want to sign up, I believe there’s still time left to join. No pressure or anything, but it’s a great way to start owning your own content if you haven’t started doing that already.
I spent some time today putting a system in place to track the unbillable time I spend on contributions to free software, and when I say contribution I’m being pretty liberal about what counts as contribution: Advocacy, not just code, for example. I believe in the mission of free software, but the fact is free software isn’t without cost, and sometimes that cost can get pretty high. I’m also working out how to document my contributions in my portfolio, including the free accessibility advocacy that I do. This is going to take a little more work and some more research, but I feel it needs to be done. I need to be able to keep track of this stuff so I can limit it when necessary. Right now I’m thinking of setting the limit at ten percent of free time outside of shabbat and festivals, because those are times when no work of any kind is done, as a general rule. I’m not going to get into the exceptions around festivals because it’s a lengthy topic, but to say no work of any kind can be done on festivals would be technically inaccurate. I think ten percent is a reasonable amount of time. It’s not a ton, but it places an upper limit on the time I have available to do this kind of work. I will also document the time spent, although I haven’t decided whether I will publish a weekly or monthly or yearly report. This is going to be an interesting project.
we should be working not just to pay the bills, but to make sure we don’t create software that we will one day regret.
In the web accessibility space, we talk a lot about how everyone has a role to play when it comes to accessibility. We’ve been talking about this for a very long time, and I’m glad to see the idea that when it comes to cross-disciplinary things like ethics, it’s not just one person’s responsibility. Accessibility, at its core, is an ethics issue, and I think that, just as accessibility as a part needs a good business case to support it, tech ethics as a whole will need that too. Right now we’re still in the beginning stages of considering tech ethics as a whole, so we’re not to the part yet where the business case for it, or even the general idea of a business case, is being considered. But I suspect we’ll get there soon enough.
If you’re a GitHub user, but you don’t pay, this is a good week. Historically, GitHub always offered free accounts but the caveat was that your code had to be public. To get private repositories, you had to pay. Starting tomorrow, that limitation is gone. Free GitHub users now get unlimited private repositories.
I think this is over all a good thing, although I’m hesitant to take this as some sort of goodwill sign from Microsoft. I find that it’s easier to deal with the disappointment that inevitably arises when platforms remove or limit features if one keeps in mind that these are business decisions and nothing more. Plus, honestly, I still don’t trust Microsoft when it comes to free/open source software. Their newfound love for open source hasn’t been around long enough to erase their very long history of having an anti-open-source stance. This article opines that most developers have come to terms with Microsoft’s Github acquisition. Well of course we have. Most of us use Github either for our own projects or for projects we contribute to, and it’s easier to just come to terms than it is to spin up decentralized operations and move everything over to those. Decentralized is the better approach, although I think managing the social aspects of software contribution is still a hurtle. I need to look into this more.
I’ve been using Brid.gy since I started using Webmentions on this site, to get mentions from silos (Twitter mostly) back to the contents. This is an awesome service.
I couldn’t agree more that Bridgy is an awesome service, and I like watching the stats climb. I’m about to add two more unique domains to start sending webmentions and collecting responses. I also need to start backing Indieweb every month, or at least one-time donations when I can afford to, since I get so much value out of it personally and professionally. I would love to see native webmention support and native collection of responses and reactions in WordPress core, instead of as plugins. It needs to be as easy as possible for anyone to adopt and become part of the indieweb so that people have a real choice when it comes to freeing themselves from platforms like Facebook and Twitter and the like.
How to automatically publish content from a static site on Twitter, using Eleventy and Netlify's lambda functions.
This tutorial on implementing syndication on static sites should be useful for those who don’t want to use something like WordPress or another database-driven content management system to power their site. As much as some of us would like silos like Twitter or Facebook to disappear, for most people they’re currently necessary, (the network effect), and so syndication is something that has to be part of the mix. And the more you can automate, the better.
How to pull interactions from social media platforms like Twitter back to your own site, using Webmentions, webmention.io and Bridgy.
Syndicating your content to social networks is all well and good, but the real fun happens when you can bring back the reactions from those social networks to your own site and display them all regardless of which site or network they come from. If your site is static, you’ll need to employ a couple of third-party services to accomplish this, whereas with WordPress or Drupal you’ll need to install some plugins. Even if you’re not a developer, the fact that you can pull in reactions to your content from all over the web is a beautiful thing to behold. And I’m looking forward to the time when most domains on the web support both syndication out and bringing reactions back in. Neither of these takes much effort, and they’re taking less and less. There’s not a lot of cost to implementing these things either anymore, and if we can get to a point where everyone who’s now using social media as their primary platform has their own domain and their own website and is able to syndicate out and bring reactions back in, then all the data currently being sucked up by the large social media platforms no longer is as plentiful, and therefore loses its value. This will, however, take work on the part of all of us, whether that’s building solutions for otheres to use or helping others use those solutions.
I should be able to charge extra for editing content on any site with Visual Composer involved. That plugin is the bane of my existence, and the sooner it completely disappears, the better. It is absolutely possible to edit VC content by hand. This is also absolutely not a skillset I should have to maintain. We have standards for a reason. It is very time-consuming and tedious, along with probably being traumatizing, for anyone to have to learn the non-standard idiosyncracies of this kind of generated markup. Friends don’t let friends use this plugin. Enemies probably shouldn’t let enemies use it either.
For many years, my definition of “Democratize Publishing” has been simply to help make the web a more open place. That foundation begins with the software itself, as outlined by the Four Freedoms: ... In 2018, the mission of “Democratize Publishing” to me means that people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities should be able to access Free-as-in-speech software that empowers them to express themselves on the open web and to own their content.
Matt Mullenweg has taken the time to introspect and revisit his working definition of democratizing publishing to specifically include people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities, and I think this is worthy of note. Not only that, I think it’s a significant step that earns him a not insignificant amount of credit. It’s a necessary step that helps lay the foundation for a more accessible WordPress, a more accessible editor for WordPress, and a more accessible web going forward. Granted, words are not action. But this, coupled with Matt’s pledge to fund the remainder of the WPCampus crowdfunding effort for a full accessibility audit of Gutenberg, by way of Automattic, (provided that pledge is fulfilled), gives me reason to be cautiously optimistic regarding Matt’s participation in the effort to make WordPress and its new editor accessible to everyone. So, thank you Matt for your demonstrated willingness to revisit the core idea behind WordPress and as a result of that thought process to make a necessary course correction. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
many of the biggest blindness organizations are sitting atop a mountain of cash while spending relatively little on programs for the people they state they are helping.
I would encourage every blind person in the strongest possible terms to read the most recent article by Chris Hofstader and download the data. I would especially encourage the blind people who has been contracted by any of these organizations to do things like build websites or write software to read through this data and then make decisions with regard to whether or not you’re going to work with these organizations and how you are going to price your services based on this data and not the sob stories or excuses provided by these organizations when they plead lack of budget coupled with great need for your services. It’s one thing to suspect they’re screwing you over with no proof. It’s a very different, and bigger, ball of wax to know that they are screwing you over, have proof of it, and then contrast that with the “have a large impact”, “make a difference”, “help the cause”, “we’ll send you referals” kind of language that is so often used when they pitch for things like websites or apps. I will not only be reading through this data myself, but also passing this on to any blind person who has been my student, formally or otherwise, when it comes to WordPress.
Definitely some very useful information for developers. This stuff is core knowledge that needs to be grasped by developers before getting to the point of using tools or trying to test with assistive technology. I think it’s also useful information for testers as well as assistive technology users, if for no other reason than we are often tasked with doing advocacy work, and it’s to our advantage to try to make sure that the information we’re passing on is accurate so that accessibility problems can be fixed, and not just temporarily. Well, that’s the hope, anyway.
It has come to my attention that many in the web standards gang are feeling grumpy about some Full Stack Developers’ lack of deep knowledge about HTML.
It’s easy to get cranky when semantic HTML is ignored by developers, and that’s usually my cue to quit for the day if possible. This is probably the funniest take I’ve read on the subject of HTML, and I kind of want to steal and modify slightly that footer text and use it on my personal site. This post is also written in a way that allows you to steal the points and add them to your notebook if you’re into that sort of thing.
Dear M-Enabling Summit: seriously, why do accessibility pros have to keep passive-aggressively adding alt text to your images for you? It’s not like this is new or anything. This is, after all, 2019 and not 1995. It’s not even new by Twitter standards, and there are a metric ton of guides out there, some of them even written by accessibility pros, to show you how to use the feature. How is this not in the instructions you provide to your social media manager, assuming you have one? If you don’t, not adding it is even worse. If you can’t manage to do something as simple as adding alt text to your images, why on earth should anyone trust you to create a conference that provides valuable, accurate accessibility information?
Underlines, the standard, built-in signifier of hyperlinks, the core feature of the web, are beautiful. This is objectively true. They are aesthetically one of the most delightful visual design elements ever created. They represent the ideal of a democratized information system. They are a frail monument to the worldwide reach…
This is probably the most poetic take on link underlines I’ve ever read.