a long ramble

Last night I went to C’s nonprofit capstone (think senior project) class to talk weblogs, accessibility, and whatever. It turned out to be a fascinating experience, talking all over the map; lots of talk about syndication, which is still not being well expressed outside tech circles.

One woman uses My Yahoo and had seen the RSS thing, but had no idea what the hell it meant. Also, she had already heard of blogs through her college-age son. (Apparently, it’s what all the college kids are doing these days.)

Why blog? was the big question, and I found myself coming back again & again to: let the tech/tools get out of the way so (a) non-tech people can be involved and (b) they can focus on content instead of technology.

Another woman is working on a local hospital for her project, and I mentioned Keith’s work with Seattle Children’s and Mike Kelley’s work with wherever it was he used to work. (Should probably link that stuff.)

Talked about advantages of blogs over Blackboard: pretty much all the students complained about not being to access (BB) resources from previous classes, and that they’d want to be able to get at them as professionals after they graduate. C brought in the idea of integrating BB & a blog.

He had a lot of good stuff to say, and it was kinda cool for me to see him jump in with things that I think he’s acquired by osmosis from me. 🙂 And then synthesized with his own intense thought process, experiences, etc. to form really quite powerful ideas. Someday I’ll get him blogging, I swear.

Accessibility ended up being sort of a sidebar…covered the basics of what 508 and WCAG *are*, but with much less tech than if they were, say, a web design class. 🙂 Talked about some of the specifics of technologies used, wished I had the demos that the keynote speaker at HEWD had had. Made most of the points that I wrote down yesterday re: reasons for accessibility. This was an audience for which “it’s the right thing” really resonated, which is nice. The Joe Clark quote got a chuckle, but also nodding of heads in re: professionalism and cache of having that additional thing.

A little bit about the role of weblogs in developing communities of practice: C tried to bring it up early in re: nonprofit orgs, but got garbled in his own thoughts (his comment, not mine), and I brought it up again at the end in re: web designers, mentioned meeting Keith at WebVisions. (which was darn cool.)

Demonstrated how to blog with WordPress: the ease of adding a link got oohs and ahs. 🙂 Same deal with categories. Some confusion about how does it know where to publish, talked about setup, user accounts, the group blog.

Didn’t get a chance to mention The Kitchen as I wanted to. 🙁

All in all, it was a bit of a ramble, moving back and forth over various subtopics: not a bad thing, but I wish I’d had a tighter presentation ready beforehand. I think I can be more flexible if I’m more prepared up front, oddly enough. (I don’t have C’s gift for extemporizing.) But I’m very happy with the experience. It’s energizing to be able to talk about the things I love with people who are engaged.