I’ve mentioned this before to people but never wrote it down: How should we even begin to handle graphs and diagrams? What is the “alt text” for a graph, a schematic, floor plan, infographic, or UML diagram? Just consider this diagram: How should we even describe this as an “alt text”? (Let’s ignore text browser users for the moment.) Describing the picture certainly wouldn’t work; what matters are not the visual elements themselves, but their relationships to each other. Even worse: Imagine this being exported into PDF (or SVG, or EPS), then embedded into InDesign. Suppose the InDesign file is going to ultimately end up as an accessible PDF. But the text in the diagram is going to be a jumbled mess. So what accessibility are we talking about? Are we deluding ourselves? This has serious implications: Imagine, for example, a piece of online instructional material full of such diagrams. Under the AODA organizations are supposed to be able to supply this in an “accessible format.” What does it even mean for this to be accessible?
So I have been standing here, outside 240, filming the installation for the past half hour, and I just want to say that ths experience is entirely different from the experience I had inside, let alone the virtual experience on our web site. The tweaked installation runs incredibly slow, almost imperceptibly slow. On the site that would be unbearable, but outside, on the actual official viewing spot, it is calming. Well, the site is not even working. My old Mac must have overheated… Sigh…
I have long claimed that Wikipedia is strongly biased against knowledge that comes either from non-English-language sources and from cultures (and subcultures) where most of their practices are undocumented. This is cultural imperialism. And I have also long claimed that its now-standard requirement for references (that are not dictionaries and encyclopaedias) are also hindrances into knowledge dissemination. However, during today’s synchronous seminar a different picture of how exclusive Wikipedia has become emerged. It turns out that last year they also did a class project on Wikipedia. And it turned out that most of the stuff they wrote about were deleted. Not edited. Just deleted. On what amounts to bogus grounds. We are talking about a field that, even though can still be emerging already, already has tons of English-language literature published in English-speaking countries. This is a bias that is not even against non-white, non-English-speaking cultures. It is outright unfathomable. What of attitude, really, is this? This of course is rooted not only in the current focus of references, but also on the “principle” of “notability,” which I have always found to be incomprehensible. You can’t imagine when anything will become important. If there were no “notability” requirement, then the second the thing becomes “notable” (whatever notable means), Wikipedia will be the only encyclopaedia in the world to talk about that thing. That would be an unmatched advantage. Whoever is in control of Wikipedia certainly has no such vision. They only focus on short term measurable success, on duplicating the accomplishments of traditional encyclopaedias. They used to talk about knowledge contribution as their fundamental principle; but that is probably one of the biggest lies that ever came out of an entity that purports to belong to the free culture.