Christian Heilmann

You are currently browsing the archives for the event category.

Archive for the ‘event’ Category

Scripting Enabled Venue and Tickets are now available!

Monday, July 21st, 2008

I’ve met with the lovely people from Gamelab and the Metropolitan University on Friday and we finalized the details of Scripting Enabled.

Scripting Enabled is a two day event in London on the 19th and 20th of September 2008. The goals of the event are:

  • to build accessible interfaces to currently inaccessible services,
  • get hackers and non-technical people who know about accessibility problems to talk and
  • release documentation and tools based on real issues to make the web a more inclusive place.

This event is separated into two different parts and you need to book separate tickets!

The first day is dedicated to getting real information about accessibility barriers of online systems and techniques to work around them. This day is for:

  • Developers that will come on the second day to find out what needs building
  • Anybody who wants to learn about accessibility barriers from those who get blocked by them and not from theory
  • Anybody who wants to share their experiences in being blocked out from online services because of their ability

The second day is a development event where we will try to build solutions and alternative interfaces into existing systems that work around the issues we learned about on the first day.

This day is for:

  • Developers that want to build truly accessible interfaces and legal hacks around currently inaccessible systems
  • People that can give real information based on research and user testing to hep developers build the right things
  • Testers that can give us a real user experience rather than having to simulate it.

Go and book your tickets now

Is it time to take mashups and use them to solve real issues?

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

This is my presentation given at the BarCamp4 at Gcap in London, talking about my recent move to start doing more mashups again and what lead to it.

My mashup and accessibility fatigue

In a nutshell I have to say that I was getting tired of ethical hacking and mashups. Far too many people just create mashups for the sake of putting some information together or prove a technical concept but I just couldn’t see the use of what was produced. We create a lot of ideas, prototypes, proofs of concept, celebrate them as being cool and then never re-visit or turn them into projects.

I was also bored with the accessibility movement on the web. Instead of concentrating on solutions for people we ran in circles demanding technical solutions or implementation of standards that don’t make much sense in the real world. It was much more important to be compliant with something than to really deliver for the people who needed us to remove barriers for them. It is all about demanding things to be done rather than doing them. And I felt that I wasted my time trying to get something done in this surrounding.

Boost : The social innovation camp

That changed drastically when I was a judge at the Social Innovation Camp. The concept of the camp was brilliant: allow people who have real world problems to draft up an idea how modern technology like web sites and social networks could help solving or at least making these problems smaller. The entries were massive and ranged from simple things like sharing sites (rent a drill instead of buying one and let it collect dust) to personal growth/learning monitoring systems.

Boost : Enabled by design

The project that stood out the most for me was Enabled by design which is a showcase site for people with disabilities showing the world what problems they have fulfilling certain day to day tasks (say cutting food) and what tools are available to overcome these problems.

The second idea of enabled by design is that it should become a place where product designers and production companies could get information about what products are needed and then can start designing and producing those in more appealing ways. Most assistive technology and products are ugly, and they don’t have to be – actually that makes the person who just had to start to use them to fulfill tasks previously easy for them feel even worse. People get as excited about product design as we get about APIs and mashing things up – both of these great amounts of energies could be targeted to solve real-life needs of real people.

Boost – Ability 2.0 conference and accessihacking YouTube

With my mindset of giving the accessibility world a swift kick up the backside I gave my talk Fencing-in the habitat at the Accessibility2.0 conference pointing out the useless energy we waste on technical solutions built to satisfy ourselves rather than making a difference for the end user.

One of the other talks that day was Antonia Hyde talking about the issues users with learning disabilities are facing on the web, especially in regards to online video. Well, I thought to myself, as YouTube has an API, and I’ve been playing around with it already, why not have a go at an accessible YouTube player. I’ve created a prototype and sent that out to Antonia and some other accessibility contacts and the feedback was awesome.

What confused me most was that I got feedback from schools and blind people thanking me for the player and finally being able to use YouTube. I liked that a lot – realizing that I helped far more people than I thought by tackling something I hadn’t tried before – thinking in detail about the needs of people with learning disabilities!

The player is going strong and I am now writing documentation for the 2.0 version which will feature a search, playlists created by bookmarking in and more features like zoom.

Question: What about the future?

Am I weird (don’t answer that out of context) or is there something in there? Are there more developers out there who are stuck in a rut mashing up data without ever really making a difference with it, or do I care to go there just because I have so much exposure to this world?

I am imagining (and already started) planning an event for exactly that – social and accessible hacking of currently used internet services. We could have a hackday weekend with spokespeople from different agencies explaining the issues that people with disabilities have to use for example flickr, youtube, last FM and so on and a bunch of hackers to have a go at building alternative interfaces based on the APIs of these companies. I would also like to get people from these companies there to learn about the hacks and maybe take on some of the learnings and put them in the live systems.

The question is: would that be something you want?

Open Source Jam at Google UK

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Me posing with my mobile at Open Source Jam

Last Thursday I went to the Google offices in London Victoria to attend a bi-monthly unconference called Open Source Jam. I was running a bit on autopilot as I was in Leeds the day before talking about the YUI at the Geekup meeting and originally wanted to skip the session as I was pretty knackered. It was great though that I didn’t follow my instinct, but instead have a nice unconference with Pizza, Beer and lots of 5 minute+5 minute Q&A sessions revolving around creating interfaces for humans.

In comparison to other barcamps the Open Source Jam was a lot more technical and speakers were more coders than web developers. I’ve learnt about a chess program for the iPhone, how to write APIs to make them more accessible to humans, UXON - a User Interface Object Notation (more on this coming soon), Behaviour Driven Development, holes in the Flickr API and a lot of other things.

My initial idea of staying for an hour and then leaving for a speaker’s dinner of a company-internal conference was foiled and I took the last tube back from Victoria.

My own talk was a preview of a session I will give at the Abilitynet Accessibility conference in April, talking about how accessibility is not an extra task but – if taken into consideration from the beginning – an opportunity to build better products for everybody.

I want to thank the organizers and will very likely be there for the next jam.

Photo by Adewale Oshineye

Social Innovation Camp – turn your technical innovation skills into human benefits

Friday, February 15th, 2008

The last few years we’ve become increasingly better in building applications that make our life easier. May that be collaboration, day-to-day tasks like writing, converting or just managing our tasklists – a web app to make it smoother for us as end-users was always available with a minimum search effort.

Meanwhile, in the real world, social problems became worse and worse. This becomes even more problematic as there is a distinct lack of forward thinkers providing easy to use and apply solutions to existing problems. This is where the Social Innovation Camp wants to bridge the gap.

In London between 4th-6th April 2008, Social Innovation Camp will bring together some of the best of the UK and Europe’s web developers and designers with people at the sharp end of social problems.
Our aim is find ways that easy-to-build web 2.0 tools can be used to develop solutions to social challenges.

Until then, the organizers are calling out to you for ideas:

For the next month, we’ll be accepting applications to come to the event via the website – The plan is that people will fill in our ideas submission form with details of an idea they have for socially-beneficial web tools. This process will close on 7th March 2008 and we’ll choose the best to come and join us in April.

I’ll be one of the technical advisors on the panel and I am very much looking forward to seeing what web geeks can do to change the world around us rather than just the virtual ones.

Early Bird tickets available for Going Solo until the end of the weekend

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Going Solo, a conference for Freelancers and Small Business owners in Lausanne, Switzerland is going down on the 16th of May. It is organized by Stephanie Booth, a co-speaker at Paris Web this year and is aimed at providing freelancers and small business owners with viable information for their business:

skills a freelancer needs, fixing prices, closing deals, negotiating contracts, what kind of work freelancers in the 2.0 world do, marketing and taking care of one’s social capitall, tools of the trade, coworking and staying in touch with “colleagues”, challenges in making a passion into a job, dealing with the blurring of the life/work distinction, international clients, travel, different laws and tax rules, accounting and adapting to different kinds of clients (in particular, how do you deal with big corporations that you approach or who have approached you)

In addition to Stephanie and her endless enthusiasm you’ll get gems of information from Suw Charman, Stowe Boyd, and Martin Roell.

Early Bird is 300 CHF, which’ll go up to 400 this coming Monday.