It's what defines us.

We all have a story to tell. Within that story there are chapters of love, loss, sadness and darkness. It's what defines us. We have the pleasure as human beings to be able to watch the people and communities around us write their own stories just as we're creating our own. It's quite beautiful if you actually stop and think about it for a little bit.

We smile and laugh when we see other succeed and cringe when we see others do something we feel is going to end up in one of those dark chapters. It should go without saying that the dark chapters of your life should be the smallest chapters in your book. If they aren't you should probably take a moment and examine what exactly you are doing, who you're associated with, etc. And make a change.

I'm not one to force change on anyone but I do believe we can all do better. And sometimes that requires flipping the entire script and or throwing it out and starting over.

With that being said I'm headed on a bit of a journey myself. I've decided to set forth some guidelines that will help me write the next few chapters of my life and you're either going to find yourself part of the story or written out completely.

1. Family First. Always. I want to spend more time with my family in whatever way I can. Looking back on the past few years I haven't been great at it and I feel like it's time for that to change.

2. Friends. This is a category of people in my life that deserve to be there. They realize friendship is a two way street and not some shitty business arrangement. If you're willing to put in the effort, so am I.

3. Community. I want to be involved. However, I won't be involved with individuals that seek only to make a buck and not actually improve the community as a whole. We can expand on this even more by saying if you're ego is too big and you'd rather backstab (or burn a bridge with) someone instead of finding a way to work with them or make a clean break then I actually want nothing to do with you. You're actually a poison that is leeching the lifeblood from what is already a fragile ecosystem and I'm disappointed in everything you stand for.

4. Sugar Coat. I don't do it. I never will. If that makes me a curmudgeon than so be it. If you can't take my honesty because your eyes are so glazed over by all the Kool-Aid you've been drinking then we're not meant for each other. Sorry (I think?).

5. Life. I'm not going to apologize or feel bad for decisions I make. I'll carefully think out each one before I make it and that'll be that. If you're all about guilt tripping me, asking me 100 questions, etc you're just waiting your time, and mine.

The bottom line folks, is you've only got one life and each and every day that goes by brings us one step closer to not being here any longer. Making the best of it should be the goal and that always starts with you.

Like walking on rocks?

There are some web experiences that I'd describe as like walking on rocks or shards of glass and I'm an ordinary, typical user. Well ok, maybe I'm not. I certainly look for a bit more in my web experience than a normal everyday user does but you know what I mean. So if it is tough for me imagine what it is like for a user with even the slightest impairment.

Up until a few years ago I would have probably created a website that isn't very accessible but appealed to me in every which way. I used to think that was ok. Now that I look back on things the argument could be made that I was in fact alienating users from my sites because I didn't do very simple things to make sure the site was accessible.

It strikes me as odd though, that people I have discussions with always ask me how accessible does something have to be? My usual response is a question back: do we have the means to do everything we can to make it as accessible as possible? If the answer is yes we shouldn't be setting minimum goals but instead a standard that we will achieve with each of our web and mobile properties. We (you, too) should do everything you can to make sure all audiences can access your online properties and have the best experience they possibly can. Sure, someone that is using a screenreader won't have the same experience as someone who can navigate a site without one and even in that scenario there are a lot of different levels but you get what I mean. There is some leeway but it should never be a grey area issue. I want you the user/visitor/potential client to have a great experience on my site and if you don't then it's 100% on me to make sure I correct that for the next time.

Don't kick the can down the road. Make the decisions now to be accessible and start working towards being so. A great place to start is by checking out the WAI. It was the WAI that spun up the WCAG 1.0 and now 2.0 guidelines. This isn't reading for the feint of heart. It gets deep and addresses all sorts of forms of accessibility but is well worth starting to bite off chunks of.

Disclaimer: this site, in fact, has some accessibility issues that I am currently working through. It's turning out to be a bit more difficult due to the Square Space templating but I'm getting there.

The Fault with Generalizations

More and more lately I've noticed people making wild generalizations about a particular group, organization, state, country, etc. There are very few things that annoy me more than reading or hearing these things. And when confronted about it the offending player often shoots back with "you know what I meant." Sure, I do but that doesn't make it any better for me, you or anyone involved.

Here are some thoughts. If you're calling someone out be "man" enough to call them out. Don't name an entire group because you don't want to hurt one person's feelings. You actually end up offending way more than one person here. Also, what makes it ok to blame an entire group before blaming one person? Last time I checked one person's actions don't account for an entire group. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.

I remember a conversation I had a year ago with someone who asked me if I was on staff in the hopes that I wasn't and that I was a consultant because what I was suggesting would have far more weight. My head nearly exploded. There were 2 generalizations made in that statement.

  1. That being a staffer means you aren't as knowledgeable as someone who isn't. I as a staffer and (what I would consider) a fairly intelligent human being will never forget those words. Pure Insanity.
  2. That being a consultant means you actually know what you're talking about. This immediately made me realize this person has zero clue how agencies work. Most of the top agencies (while known for certain core competencies) will never say no to a request and after the meeting is over figure out how to make it work for the client. Amazing customer service right? Sure, but it often leads to gaps in a product being delivered or certain low points in what might otherwise have been an amazing engagement. They'll pave over these points with cliche terms and sprinkles to make you, the client feel great.

So you're asking what's my point here? Before you make the jump to generalizing that a group isn't good, isn't knowledgeable, doesn't work well together, etc consider that there might actually be a few folks in there that aren't like the rest. Those folks want to do amazing things if you'd let them and trusted them to do so. All you're doing with your generalizations is hampering (read: missing) what could be amazing opportunities to do some great things.

Just my $.02

Scratching the Itch

Scratching the Itch

I don't know if it's the springtime that makes gets me in this mood, or if it's the new crop of student entrepreneurs that are working in the eCenter or just some other force but every spring I get this itch that I could be (read: maybe should be) doing something more with my days. This year though for the first time in years I actually think I am onto something pretty solid and have started laying the ground work, talking to friends, doing research and forming a plan.