Much of this site’s unexpected popularity comes from being fairly rare. Although it’s covered an extremely wide array of topics in its time (and will do in the future) much of the content has focused on disability from a technical point of view. We have posts by people who build things, alter things, fix things, and hope for things that help people with disabilities.
With the noted exception of atmac.org, which tends to concentrate on ‘made’ rather than ‘making’, and also on physical disabilities rather than cognitive ones, that makes the site extremely unusual in terms of the most heavily trafficked disability blogs.
Although my editorial policy can best described as ‘chaotic’ or possibly even ‘promiscuous’, one of my goals in the building of the site was to bring out some of the people doing interesting things in (particularly intellectual) disability technology and link them together. This is why I try and seek out people like Kate, the other Kate, Christine, groups like special effect and companies like Talkit and campaigns like AV. If you, or someone you know is doing something cool and open source around disability, then I’m probably keen to talk them.
The reasons these links are so important is because there are so few of them. People like Kate and Christine and the others are surprisingly rare in the intellectual disability space, and that’s a significant problem.
Why the problem?
From, as ever, wikipedia:
The open-source model, or collaborative competition development from multiple independent sources, generates an increasingly diverse scope of design perspective than one company development alone can sustain long term. And a report by the Standish Group (from 2008) states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year to consumers.
I’m a big fan of the open source model. I think it’s revolutionised operating systems, applications, all the way from fundamental aspects of our life, down to saving each other just a few hours every so often. I release almost all my code on github and I’ve talked about how I made that transition.
The problem is that people producing open source code tend towards a particular model. They tend to be young, male, with a technical education and a certain amount of free time. By contrast, people working in the care sector tend to be giving, loving, generous people. They are tireless. They can be smart and passionate, and they have vision. But, they tend not to be technical. Worse… they tend not to know that many people who are.
Oh there are examples were the worlds meet – in addition to all the people above there are people like Will Wade who is filling github with useful scripts, and projects like OATS that at last acknowledge the problem, but these are tiny projects that for the most part have one contributor for open source projects to grow and work there needs to be a network and one of the big things we are trying to do here is draw together a network. And it’s that network that has lead to thinks like AzuleJoe and CommuniKate and will hopefully lead to many more cool projects.
So if you know of someone whose got something cool, technical and disability friendly, then let them get in touch and we’ll see about making a stronger network.