Friday, April 28, 2006

Blogging against disablism day

Ooh just 3 days to go til the big day!

What will I write about? The glass ceiling? The drip drip drip of little comments that serve to wear away at you and display a lack of appreciation/respect? Badly designed gizmos that visually impaired people can't use? I'll see.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out  Blogging Against Disablism Day and get ready to write about it on May 1. Spread the word and all hail the Goldfish.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

First 200 ...

Flicking round the local blogosphere I have been inspired by Turtle's brave act of posting the first 200 words of her assignment.

So, being as I've spoken about it loads, I'm going to post the first couple of hundred words in the first chapter of my 'novel' (note the apostrophes). It's from the chapter one that I worked up in my writing class about 6 weeks ago. Here it is.


Qualified teachers do not run video stores, people who hate films do not run video stores. Most importantly, blind people do not run video stores. In fact, blind people don't run any kind of shop, do they?

Mark Kent had fucked up. If he didn't take a grip on his life soon he was going to end up a lonely unfulfilled sad blind man in an old people's home. He imagined himself in the corner not even being able to take part in the afternoon fun that was tea, ginger biscuits and a nice game of charades. He was thirty-one, after all. That meant his life was almost set in stone, didn't it? And do thirty-one year olds still wear jeans and rock band T-shirts? He wasn't sure.

He hated his job. He had no social life to speak of. He lived with an idiot and, when it came to love, well he hadn't had a date in years and by his own admission was getting a little desperate.

Mark's Mum regularly liked to remind him that he hadn't had a girlfriend since that nice Justine. "When was that again, Mark? Five years ago?" she'd say down the phone. "You of all people need children so that they can look after you in later life, you know."

His Mum was nuts but everyone else seemed to get what they wanted so easily and right now, this Wednesday morning, this wet, cold, and presumably grey day - the day after the night before - was weighing down on him. Even if It looked a nice crisp blue to those who could see it, it was overwhelmingly overcast in his head, and probably flecked with blood too.

His white cane swooshed a few broken bottles into the gutter as he tapped his way down the high road to the shop. Then, ouch, he managed to once again walk into the orning in front of the bakery 3 doors down. Some mornings he judged the angle perfectly and missed it - cool way to go Mark, confident looking bloke who can't see. Today, a foot off course, it poked him directly in the right eye - pathetic, loser, needy, embarrassment, stick him in care for his own safety for goodness sake.


Good stuff to read on the web?

I want some good internet websites to read. If you read an interesting site regularly and care to share ... please do!

I dunno though, I think I might be a bit dull. I want to know more about Japanese culture, Chinese politics, the impending world energy crisis, the environment, how big corporations are screwing us all, etc. Can anyone lift the lid on a good website or blog? Or many? Or anything you think I'd be interested in besides? Obviously it goes without saying that all bloggers who have previously posted here all have fantastic blogs ;)

C'mon, amaze me. I want websites that I'll keep going back to for more.

[update] Just read this entry back. Have I turned into a student or something?

Karen J Maclean WHERE ARE YOU?

Are you hiding? Are you OK? Write back to me oldest of net buddies.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Tiger Woods fallout

I'm having a too much to blog day. There is so much stuff in my head I want to slam down into the blog that it's all a bit too much. I've not blogged for a couple of weeks so it was bound to happen.

This week's busy-ness is down to recording the next podcast (slightly early cos Mat Fraser is zooming off to the states on Monday) and also Tiger Woods didn't help.

It was a weird week, my Assistant Producer was away on annual leave and suddenly the heavens broke. I was working ridiculously long hours - wednesday I worked 5am til 10pm.

Tiger Woods. I have to say I don't particularly care that he said spaz though I am minded of the whole little acts of degradation debate that Ragged Edge are having at the moment.

I posted an article late Tuesday morning soon after the news broke. Within 3 hours we were receiving approx 1 email per minute about it. WE must've had hundreds now in the past few days. The vast majority were from non-disabled people all keen to a: rubbish us for mentioning it and B: point out that spaz isn't a disability related word in America "it just means idiot" wrote one person. "it describes someone who is a klutz, lacking balance, undignified, clumsy and uncoordeinated" wrote another (I paraphrased that last quote).

Isn't this the whole point though? Do I need to say more?

Clearly language changes though. Idiot in Britain was, if I recall correctly, far more offensive 200 years ago ... referring very specifically to people locked away for being mad? We now use it in a friendly way. It has no real sting. But then I spoke to some Americans who were offended by it. We're aware a journalist got Tiger to repeat his phrase replacing the word 'spaz' with 'wreck' ... so what does that say? It must've been very quickly understood that it was offensive, no?

The hundreds of emails we received were from the "political correctness gone mad" brigade. The tone was unpleasant. Particular kudos to the person who wrote calling us cunts ... and the other person who cleverly said that Ouch was more of an offensive word to him. Brilliant.

It's all been an intersting debate though ... but maybe I'm finding it interesting for the wrong reasons. I'm fascinated by the human response to what I wrote.

On Wednesday I wrote a very balanced and fair article which summed up the situation to me.

Amazing response. Yet more emails. I'm told almost half a million people read that article in its first 24-hours of being live on the news site. Certainly Ouch's hits quadrupled too.

I'm told we made Popbitch and B3ta websites and newsletters too. And also the Drudge Report???? (I've yet to find reference to it on that site though, if anyone could help that'd be appreciated).

Course, with a name next to it, the emails got that bit more personal towrds me. But above many things I've written recently, I'm really quite pleased with that BBC News article. I hope it places the whole language thing in a context, of sorts.

As a journalist you want response so I was very pleased. I'm aware people probably clicked and read it more because they were surprised to see the word 'spaz' on a BBC news website. Oh and many more uses of the word spaz to be heard on Radio 4's You and Yours programme this Monday when they review the Ouch Podcast. Incidentally presenter John Waite loveds the podcast.

Have lots of other things to say. Very impressed by the whole Blogging Against Disablism idea that Goldfish has come up with.

Talking of blogs, Ouch's own weblog is about to get updated. At the moment it's a little bit of an unsatisfactory user experience as you have to wait hours if not days (if it's a weekend) before your comments go live. Well, we'll soon have a 24-hour moderation system in place which means it can be a truer live'er blog. And we really hope that disabled bloggers will be keen to post that bit more because we love having those links back to your personal blogs ... it'd be great to grow that disabled blogging community some more and intertwine and cross reference it all that little bit more. We all know there are lots of experiences from disabled people that just aren't shared ... never see the light of day ... the blogging community could be a powerful source, a powerful POLITICAL source of growth, pressure and appreciation around disability matters and our lifestyles. I've tried to arrange protests before and there is a real issue with getting disabled people physically into one place at the same time for so many reasons. Cost is another reason. Doing things adhoc in real life non-webspace is an issue. SO hail to the Goldfish and congrats for that mention in The Guardian.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Podcast out there!

Well we've been working so hard on our disability podcast at work that I'm knackered out of my head.

We really need publicity for it so, bloggers out there reading this, could you link to it from your weblog? Pretty please? And then get your mates to link to it from their weblogs or websites too, please? We need to convince people that it's worth continuing with ... and it's a great bit of razor sharp disability humour that we can point at and say "look, it can work, you don't need to be scared. Disdability is cool!". I think programme makers would like to do more on disability, would like to be innovative, but need examples of things working.

Tell your mates about it. Tell people who aren't your mates about it. Tell journalists you know.

It's called 'The Ouch Podcast'. It's presented by actor Mat Fraser and comedian Liz Carr. They're fantastic.

If you've got iTunes, cut and paste the following line into the bit that says 'add a podcast':

...this'll make sure it's forever on your list of podcasts and you get the latest one delivered to your iPod as soon as it goes live on the web.

But, of course, you don't need an iPod. You can listen to it on your computer like other audio stuff, radio stations etc. Or you could download it, burn it to a CD if ya like, or put it on any MP3 player not necessarily those iPod thingies. That word 'podcast' confuses a lot of people and I guess it's not surprising ;)

If you're gonna link to it on your page and want to help it raise to the top of Google and other search engines, then can you help us by following these instructions:

Use the following words as the linked words: 'BBC Ouch Disability Podcast'

So, highlight all those words and make them one big link to our podcast page

If you want to know why I'm asking you to do this specifically, drop me an email and I'd be happy to tell you about the cunning trickery that is 'Search Engine Optimization'. Mail me too if you have other ideas on how we can promote it. Newsletters, whatever. We want this to be a 'word of mouth' success, something the disability community can own and be part of. Doesn't matter where you are in the world, all this will help.

Add it to your favourite sites on your blog if you like ... and/or write a blog entry linking to us and talking a weeny bit about us. We'll love you forever!

Does this sound like begging? Anything you can do is fabulous.