This is just a quick pointer to Independents Day. It appears there is going to be a relaunch of independents day.
WE HAVE NO GRIPE with for-profit sites, and many of us contribute to such businesses. But we also believe that the web is a remarkable medium for new forms of art, personal storytelling, and all manner of information and services whose rewards are not necessarily financial.
The independent content scene is alive and well, but is largely unknown by the general web-using public.
We seek to support each other as a community, and to increase, if possible, the general public’s awareness not only of existing independent sites, but of the fact that they can create their own.
I joined Independents Day “back in the day”. Independent content has become far more well known among the web community due to the adoption of blogging and similar activities. I am interested to see how independents day proposes to support independent content creation and promote participation among the general public.
AOL has unceremoniously dumped Netscape and its accompanying open source browser suite, Mozilla. Netscape (the commercial version of the Mozilla suite) is dead, Mozilla still has a future; an independent non-profit organisation called the Mozilla Foundation has been setup with support from Sun, IBM and AOL (so AOL haven’t completely cut off Mozilla then).
The announcement concerning the formation of the Mozilla Foundation lists some of the contributions that have been made to help keep Mozilla running, AOL for instance has pledged $2 million to the Mozilla Foundation, spaced over the next two years, as well as equipment and domain names to help launch the new venture.
Death of Netscape, Rebirth of Mozilla?
Mozilla is now under the auspices of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organisation. What does this mean? Interested companies can donate money essentially for free; the sums donated can be offset against their taxes. In this way the cost of supporting Mozilla will not be a significant burden to the corporate supporters listed previously. Mozilla is no longer tied to doing things the “Netscape” way, the monolithic applications that have blighted Netscape and Mozilla can now be done away with as Firebird and Thunderbird begin to take hold.
My first impressions are that this could be a good move for Mozilla in the long term. The crucial element is that the transition goes smoothly. There are encouraging signs already such as the very nicely redesigned front page of mozilla.org which gives much more emphasis to the products, is cleaner looking and really showcases the mozilla software products well. I hope that the momentum people put into the project during this transitional period will continue and take the browser from strength to strength in the future.
Well I graduated from UMIST yesterday! Here’s a picture for the benefit of friends and family:
MEng in Software Engineering (with Honours)
The RNIB has begun the first UK action on site accessibility. Action along these lines has been predicted by others. This is an important step by the RNIB in the promotion of accessible web design. By raising the possibility of legal action against web site, web designers now have a stick to match the carrot of creating an accessible web site.
The accessible web will not become the default for web sites without a few changes:
- Education of web professionals
- Financial motivation for site owners
From an educational perspective there are many sites out there that help to teach the “how” of accessible web design. Here are a couple to get started:
Learning new techniques is something that all web designers should be familiar with, after all how many “quality” professional web developers started out in web design? Education is something that should be undertaken by anyone who wants to make a professional career for themselves in any field, so I’m not going to talk further on that matter here.
The Big Issue (as seen from the financial trenches)
What’s the financial motivation? We’ve had the carrot of web accessibility for sometime now. If you can get a larger number of people to use your web site (such as people with visual impairments) then you can make a larger number of sales.
What’s the cost? The benefits haven’t moved a substantial number of web sites from being inaccessible to accessible! Let’s bring on the stick, the term in potentia. In other words inaccessible web sites may be seen as a future expense. An accessible web site may now be seen as a business benefit because it removes the threat of future lawsuits which cause these potential future expenses. Tesco.com has understood this point and when approached a few years ago by the RNIB created an accessible interface to their online store. Some companies will not have the foresight and will get stuck with the legal costs and the cost of redoing their web site.
By beginning to bring action against inaccessible web sites the RNIB has indicated that the risk factor inherent in having an inaccessible web site is real and growing. With this risk factor now clearly demonstrated the business case for creating a standards based and accessible web site is easier to make.