Ten Years of Blogging

This entry was originally to be posted on November 16, the actual anniversary.

Ah, ten years ago. How different was technology back then? Well, while some of the more upper echelon folks could do it, I certainly wasn’t able to compose an entry on a WiFi network at Starbucks with a machine I could carry in my bag. I had a big desktop tower under my table that was hooked to enough cordage to wrap around my apartment twice. At least the connection was high-speed by then.

Yep, it was ten years ago that I started my first ever blog at Life’s Little Surprises. Earthlink, the ISP with which I was paired at the time, used to send out weekly email newsletters advertising all sorts of things. This particular one suggested that individuals start a blog at Blogger, and given that I’d been doing my own private journaling since probably my 1990 flight to Los Angeles, I decided I’d take up the hobby.

I’d somehow chosen a template that didn’t include a comments section, and so I was pretty much talking to myself. Or at least, I couldn’t really hear from what audience I may have had unless people clicked on the little website I’d also created through Earthlink (It’s funny to think of how proud I was to be able to string four links and a message board that eventually got spammed to death together on that page).

Even so, I used that blog to give myself and others like me a voice in a way I’d previously not been able to do. I connected with a few other bloggers, griped and celebrated in equal measure about my favorite NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, and just generally noted my attempts at gaining a foothold in adulthood.

Sidenote: Speaking of the Panthers, I think we may be having the most successful season we experienced, if not since 03 then since 08. I’m hoping for a deep playoff run!

In Fall of 2004, I decided that I’d tired of not being able to really connect to other readers in the way that I wanted. Well that, and I seem to have lost the ability to log into my Blogger blog for some unknown reason. So, I opted into and created a Live Journal, entitling it AS IT HAPPENS . That title actually came from part of the text of my first ever entry.

That Live Journal was fantastic. It took nearly 2 years, but during LJ’s heyday of 06/08, I enjoyed a huge readership, lots of support, and opportunities to visit places such as Denver to actually meet one of my followers and assist her in completing a museum accessibility project. I think that period also coincided with the most travel I’ve ever been able to do, as I also visited Boston repeatedly, Louisville KY., Flint MI., and Madrid Spain. It really made me long for the jetsetting life.

The next major period in my life was that, um, interesting attempt at grad school, which I spoke of in a fairly recent entry. I ended up wishing I’d captured more of that experience, but I was just fighting for my life at that time in academic and financial terms.

I’d created a third blog called Hearing Change, Seeing Promise, in the late summer of 2011. It was an attempt to be a little more professional, but unfortunately I didn’t always achieve this standard. I certainly discovered how much the landscape had changed though, when I accidentally offended at least three professors when I spoke of them in less-than-desirable ways. That just made me aware that I need to think long and hard about what I’m saying and why, and as one of the professors said, if I have a grievance with them perhaps it’ll be better to talk about it with a friend in the hall.

I’d also used that blog to document my relocation to Durham, the Bull City, in early 2013. Sadly though, it is the only blog I had to basically delete due to being overrun by Spam. I wish I’d had the good sense to export the entries first, but at the time I was just upset because all of my work was being attacked in that way.

And that leads to my current WordPress blog. I feel that in general, I’ve created even better entries here than I had in all of my previous blogs combined. Not everyone is a gem though, including this one I think, but in each I do try to say something that I feel is important and advances the public’s understanding of persons with disabilities, our capabilities and challenges. I can’t exactly figure out how to post entries to the site in an easy way though, as I currently write them in Notepad, copy and paste to an email, send to myself, paste into the iPhone app, and put it up. I guess this solution works for now, but I do hope to learn to use WordPress more completely. I may take the CAVI class on it. The HTML class I’m taking at the moment is already helping me to learn how to build a website, as well as teaching me tips and tricks that I hope are making this blog look nicer. There is still much to improve, though.

So, I invite you to stick with me for another ten years. I can’t say I’m certain of where we’re traveling, but that is part of the fun.

The Tap Tap Saga: My Take

Remember when I wrote about a revolutionary new iPhone app called Tap Tap See? It allows blind individuals to snap a picture of an object, and to have that object identified in a spoken prompt. I think they use a combination of human eyes and computer analysis to determine what might be in a particular picture, and they tend to be quite accurate.

Well, not surprisingly to me, they’ve now determined that the app can no longer be free if they wish to remain in business. They’ve opted to create a set of subcription plans: 1 that allows for 100 pictures for $7.95, and another with unlimited picture-taking for a month that costs $9.95.

Now, I understand a lot of the reaction. Many are a bit upset by this, feeling they’ve been denied a service that they have basically come to expect.

It’s probably analogous to what the newspapers are going through as they try to begin charging for their online content, after allowing free access during the early Internet glory days. As someone said in reference to that, and I suppose it’s applicable here: it’s difficult to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Others say that the issue is that we’re having to pay for something, object recognition, that sighted people of course don’t have to cover. So, I’m going to respond a little to those particular sentiments.

Just as many argue with regard to newspaper, we have to continue to support the people who pour their efforts into creating, or allowing us to access, content. These things don’t just happen, and nothing is free. I’m going to support this app and the people who have worked hard to develop such a powerful yet very easy to use piece of software.

It marks the first time ever that I can collect my money from a cashier, move myself out of the flow of store traffic, and take pictures of each bill to ensure that they are as I think they are. Not that I’ve ever been stiffed by a cashier, and of course taking a picture may not always result in a perfect response, however it does significantly increase my confidence and thus my independence.

Second, to the issue of paying for things that most everyone has access to without so doing. Well, I actually have to pay about $15 a month in order to be able to hear. I usually buy about 3 packs of hearing aid batteries from our local drugstore, with such regularity that they actually stock them in bolt in order to give me a discount. Do I enjoy having to pay to hear? No, but I deem it something I must have.

I wouldn’t say that one has to have this app, but if you want to be able to take pictures and have them explained in this way, well…

Finally, and this is one I definitely understand, some have said they simply can’t afford it. Well I’m not a rich person, but I tell you what. If you have a hard time paying for that and write me privately, I’ll hit you up with an iTunes card. I know what it’s like to be that down, and believe I should help others because many helped me while I was there.

So those are my thoughts on this issue. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions as well, but I hope ultimately that we will continue to support this and similar projects that have the potential to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities overall.