Category Archives: Web

Do You Make Web Sites? Use WCAG 2.0 and Make Your Web Sites Accessible

I’m so excited and pleased to announce after many years in the making that the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is now a full blown official Web Standard.

WCAG 2.0 guides developers in how to develop their Web sites so that they’re accessible to the most people possible (especially people with disabilities).

My friend and W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Education & Outreach Coordinator Shawn Henry recently put out a call to action:

Let’s work together as a community to make WCAG 2.0 a unifying force for web accessibility. There are so many websites and exciting new web applications being created today with accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some people with disabilities to use them. Let’s change that, with WCAG 2.0.

Matt May has a good post about WCAG 2.0 being done at the Web Standards Project.

My congrats to the W3C, all my friends at WAI, and in the WCAG Working Group.  I know how hard you’ve all been working to make WCAG 2.0 a success.  Now lets get it out there and have lots and lots of people start using it.

Washington Post Article on How DC Tech is Working To Push Through the Downturn

If you haven’t already seen it, Kim Hart has got a great article in today’s Washington Post where she highlights 8 members of the DC tech community and how they’re working and advising to help push through the economic downturn.

The article highlights folks like my friends Peter Corbett and Robert Neelbauer, who also got a HUGE photo in the print edition, as well as Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar and Clearspring board members/investors Ted Leonsis and Phil Bronner.

In the article, she’s really brought together a dream team of bright minds to talk about the times that we’re in.  The article is a must read.

Gary Vaynerchuk at Mashable’s Motivational Meetup

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Mashable’s Motivational Meetup in New York City with Gary Vaynerchuk.

The folks who ran the venue, The Volstead, were stupid and wouldn’t turn down the music so that Gary could give the motivational talk that Mashable had planned on so they took the talk outside.  From a soapbox, Gary talked for half an hour and rocked it.  BTW – I’m kind of glad they did it outside.  It made it that much more awesome.

Check out the video of the talk.  (I’d post it here but WordPress.com doesn’t allow me to embed Viddler videos. :-( )

Probably the highlight is when he talked about how you need to treat your customers/users/community as if they’re guests in your house, which I think is 100% right on and is something that I strive to do everyday as a community manager.

Here’s Mashable’s summary:

1. “Hustle” – improvise, be resourceful, do whatever it takes to care for your community. Tough times require creative solutions.

2. “Next 24 months are the biggest opportunity for social media” – social media is mature. “It’s a baby. But it’s mature. It’s a baby with a mustache.”

3. “Large companies will cut social media because they don’t understand it” – the longer the big players stay away from new web technologies, the greater the opportunity for new entrants.

4. “The new barrier to building a brand is your time, not your pocketbook” – nobody can stop you from starting a global media brand from your house; all you need is time.

5. “Telling main street about Twitter is a waste of time” – keep it quiet; knowledge of new web technologies is your competitive advantage.

6. “Take Your Money” – go to Google, type in the keywords in your space. Look at the ads next to the results: these are people who pay to market in your niche. Call them. Convince them to spend those dollars on you instead.

7. “Anything that gets eyeballs is monetizable” – 2500 unique visitors a day should be enough to live on.

Broadcasting My Sister’s Wedding Live on Ustream

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of broadcasting events live over the Web but never really had the opportunity.  When I jokingly suggested that my sister let me broadcast her wedding, I totally excpected her to say “no way in heck.”  She blew me away and said yes. :-)

My sister and her now husband Adam have some good friends in Bosnia, where they’d done some mission work together, that wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding.  Broadcasting the wedding on the Web would be perfect for them.

I chose Ustream.  I had used them before to watch other events.  I have a few friends that use them  A LOT and speak highly of them.  Plus I’d met and gotten to know some of the staff at Ustream at various industry events that I’d been to.

It was SUPER easy to setup.  I literally plugged an old iSight camera into m MacBook pro.  I went to Ustream.  I hit broadcast and record.  That was it.   You can now watch the video right on Ustream.

Friends from around the country and around the world were able to join us for this incredibly exciting event.  Ustream helped to bring my sisters “global neighborhood” together.

I’m truly blown away by how easy it was.

More and more in our lives, we’re creating personal communities for ourselves that transcencds the typical local geographic boundaries.  As was demonstrated this weekend, we can now share the experiences we have in our life with our entire community, not just the folks that can physically be there.

So… we can broadcast weddings live online.  What’s next? Someone’s already done a birth, which is kind of gross.  Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of using ustream to talk to his community during breaks he has during his day to day.

What else?

Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar on “Clearspring + AddThis = Universal Sharing”

So… as you all know, this morning, Clearspring announced its acquistion of AddThis.  Well our CEO Hooman Radfar has just recently published a blog post about it, which I think is worth reading.

Here’s an excerpt…

Our vision is to create an open sharing platform connecting publishers, advertisers, and developers. This platform will enable a true first on the web – enabling users to leverage any web-based service from within the context of any application, anywhere. As we move towards this vision, Clearspring will continue deliver the best widget distribution and monetization services possible and AddThis will continue it’s run towards the goal of becoming the most ubiquitous sharing tool for publishers. Shortly, however, you will start to see the beginnings of this vision come to life.

Fitting Into My Routine

I’m a classic early adopter.  I love to try new things.  Especially with my current job, I’m getting private beta codes to new Web apps all the time.

If I had one piece of advice to new startups who were building a product, I’d remind them that their goal is to try and fit into your user’s routine.

So often I try an new product for a week. I’ll often really intend to want to use it long term but it never becomes part of my routine.  After the week is over, I’ll have forgotten about it.  Sadly, this happens all to often.

The trick is… you need to find a way to piggy back on top of a users existing behavior.  Instead of asking the user to do some complete new thing for you, find a way to capture their existing activity for your own means.  This will increase the likelyhood of success.

Also… I already have about 20 tabs open in Safari at any given time.  Is your Web app going to expect me to have anothe open?  Does it have to?  Could it be a widget that I can stick on my iGoogle page?  I use iGoogle as a page where I can aggregate lots of that type of information so I don’t have to have as many tabs open in Firefox.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to build a successful product I think it’s important to spend time thinkin about how your product fits into the life of your user.

BarCampDC2 Tickets Runout in 2+ Days

Whoa… so we opened up registration for BarCampDC2 at 8pm on Monday.  It’s now sold out… two and a half days later.  There are no more tickets left.  I wish we had more space to hold more people but unfortunately we don’t.

We’re going to be opening up a waiting list tonight.  If you want to go and werern’t able to get a spot, just register for the waiting list and we’ll let you know if space opens up.

We’re still looking for sponsors.  E-mail me if you’re interested – justin@clearspring.com

BarCampDC2 Registration Opens Tonight around 8pm

Well, I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “When is the next BarCamp going to be in DC?” We had such a tremendous amount of positive response from this one that we just had to do another.

I’m very proud to say that BarCampDC2 will be October 18th all day at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University in Washington DC.

Registration will open up tonight around 8pm. So check back then.

We’re still looking for a few sponsors. If you’re interested, e-mail me – justin@clearspring.com

If you’re unfamiliar with BarCamp, it’s an unconference or adhoc gathering of developers, designers, geeks, technologists, executives, and managers, in the technology space that want to share knowledge and their passions with eachother. It’s all day. Rooms are set aside for people to lead discussions or presentations.

I’ve been to LOTS of BarCamps and each has proven to be fruitful.

Current TV to Mash Together Twitter with the Presidential Debates

Current TV and Twitter are doing something really cool for the Presidential debates. Current TV is going to overlay people’s Twitter comments on-top of the live feed.

Today Current TV announced their plan to Hack the Debate with an innovative new way to make television interactive. “As Twitter users tweet throughout the course of the live broadcasts, Current and Twitter will collect comments regarding the debate and layer the individual messages over the debate feed.” Why stop at the web and mobile when we can create a new features for democracy?

So… this year,  do something different. Don’t watch the presidential debates on the major networks.  Watch it on Current.

JamLegend – Rock out with this game that’s Guitar Hero meets Scrabulous

Music is definitely a major part of my life. Whether it’s bobbing my head with my headphones plugged into my iPhone or when I’m at a concert and dancing to the band jamming out, I’m wanting to feel it and understand it. There is something human… honest about the emotion that expressed in music. You want to feel that emotion and connect with the music

While I’ve never played the game Guitar Hero, I understand the idea and how it allows me to sit in the shoes of the guitarist and feel what they feel.

JamLegend is a game that was created by my friends Andrew, Arjun, and Ryan. It takes the notion of Guitar Hero, you playing with the song, and brings it to your computer in a free and very accessible/fun way. It allows me to connect to the music.

In the game, you’ll see the notes flying down the screen and then you have play along using the number keys and the guitar frets and the enter key as the strumming.  You can play it by yourself or you can play against your friends.

I’ll admit at first I was very skeptical but then they gave me an invite and I started playing. Friday night at the airport on my way back to DC the time flew by because I was rocking out playing JamLegend the entire time.  I was/am hooked.

The current music library is limited to about 20+ songs but I’m confident more will come soon.  Right now it’s just independent artists… I’m kind of hoping that they just stick with independent artists. If you check out their Web site, bands can actually work with them to get their music signed up.

Getting your music into this game seems like it’d be a boon for a band.  The game is going to be a HUGE success and right now you have the possibility of getting in on the ground floor and getting maximum exposure.  Plus when I was done playing the different songs I was thinking to myself, “I should buy this album.”

So… check out JamLegend. Request to get into the private beta or be really nice to me and ask me for one of my few invites.  I know you’ll love it and connect with music in an renewed way.