Monday, April 28, 2008

maybe it's because I'm a geek...

...but I love this keynote given at the Accessibility 2.0 conference held in London in April 2008 by Jeremy Keith.

It's got things in it like architectural shearing layers:
  • the site
  • the structure,
  • the skin (which is the exterior surface),
  • the services (like wiring and pipes),
  • the space plan and
  • the stuff (like chairs, tables, carpets and pictures).
What the great-grandson of Champollion is doing:
It was only thanks to the Rosetta Stone (also on display in this very city) and the valiant efforts of Champollion that we can read and understand hieroglyphics today.

By the way — and this is a complete tangent — do you know what the great-grandson of Chamopollion does for a living? I only know this because my wife is a translator: he writes software for translators. Well, I say software …he’s actually created a plugin for Word. So his legacy might not be quite as enduring as his ancestor’s.

The connection between Whitworth's standards for screws and Babbage's difference engine:
The true father of standards is a British man, a member of The Royal Society which was based, yes, right here in this city. His name was Joseph Whitworth and he was an engineer. A developer in other words. He standardized screw threads. Before Whitworth, screws were made on a case-by-case basis, each one different from the next. That didn’t scale well for the ambitious project that Whitworth was working on. He was the chief engineer on Charles Babbage’s difference engine which, although it can’t boast a direct lineage to this computer, bears an uncanny resemblance in its internal design. I love the idea that there’s a connection between the screws that were created for the difference engine and the standards that we use to build the Web.
It's also a really great article about the (near) future of web accessibility, and goes into some detail about future-proofing, another hobby-horse of mine that no-one else seems interested in; he also makes a connection between accessibility and future-proofing:
We can either spend our time and effort locking data up into closed formats with restrictive licensing. Or we can make a concerted effort to act in the spirit of the Web: standards, simplicity, sharing… these are the qualities of openness that will help us preserve our culture. If we want to be remembered for a culture of accessibility, we must make a commitment to open data.
He also likes science fiction - hurrah!

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