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Showing posts from June, 2009

Craigslist Foundation Bootcamp 2009

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Enjoyed my day in Berkeley yesterday at the Craigslist Foundation Bootcamp 2009. They had more than 1000 folks show up to talk about service, nonprofits and social action. I thought Arianna Huffington did a good job as the opening keynoter hitting on the service theme. Announcing All For Good was a big piece of the event, of course.

Randi Zuckerberg of Facebook had the tough gig of presenting a lunch keynote outside under a tent in lower Sproul Plaza (mucho noise and people talking). She was much more on Facebook marketing message, but of course that's her role at FB. Lots of enthusiastic FB users in the audience helped make her points.
I took a lot of pictures, but not that many turned out. Posted the best 30 or so on Flickr: got some great ones of Steve Wright of the Salesforce Foundation.

I enjoyed some of the breakout sessions, although the number of concurrent sessions (often 8 at one time) made it hard to pick. Enjoyed Deb Jospin and Shirley Sagawa discussing the Cha…

AARP covers Bookshare!

We had a nice piece on Bookshare in the latest AARP Bulletin, entitled: Making Books Accessible for Those With Disabilities.

We've been getting lots of questions about the article, including volunteer offers (yay!) and interest in getting Bookshare for older parents. We have shared with people that it's ok for children of disabled parents to download books for their parents, just as it's ok for parents to download books for children with disabilities. Our team has been explaining how to assist a disabled senior who doesn't have a PC, by empowering a PC-using child to download the book and load it onto a device like a Victor Stream (an ebook player that has a voice synthesizer that speaks our books). These kinds of devices are much more like the tape recorders and CD players with which non-PC users are familiar. Of course, we explain that access to Bookshare is only for the purpose of helping a person with a print disability.

It's always exciting to be covered in…

Fascinating Meeting at the Copyright Office

Last Friday I spent almost two and a half hours in a wide-ranging conversation with Maria Pallante and Michele Woods of the Copyright Office (Michele's name updated, plus a summer law clerk attended). I came away with a much better understanding of the issues they are exploring and certainly did my part to articulate why I support the positions we have.

[Long post alert!]

I would characterize the atmosphere as one of informed and intelligent skepticism on the part of the Copyright Office, with many questions exploring different positions. We discussed Chafee, especially in the context of the Amazon text-to-speech brouhaha, and the proposed international treaty that was tabled at the WIPO SCCR meeting in Geneva last month.

The Chafee Amendment
The U.S. copyright exemption for serving the print disabled is commonly called the Chafee Amendment: Section 121 of copyright law. It’s what makes our Bookshare service legally possible.

The fact-finding public hearing and request for comments …

The Craig Newmark Beneblog Interview

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Just had a good conversation this morning with Craig Newmark of Craigslist and the Craigslist Foundation. There are two hot issue right now on Craig's social action radar, the new launch of the All For Good website and next weekend's Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp in Berkeley.

On Craig and Craigslist

Q: Do you consider yourself a social entrepreneur?
A: No, I don't think of myself that way. I may be one, but it seems to have too many syllables. I think of myself as a nerd.

Q: Tell me about the balance between the two bottom lines of Craigslist as a social enterprise.
A: We are wholly driven by our community. We ask them what they want and need, and then we do it the best we can. Then we go back and ask again. Jim [Buckmaster] runs the business. I was influenced back in 1976, when I was considering a job with IBM, by reading a quote from TJ Watson (Sr or Jr) about how if you took care of the customer, the business takes care of itself.

Q: Do you have explicit choices t…

Breaking News on the Global Treaty from Kareem Dale

Betsy Beaumon and I had the pleasure to meet today with Kareem Dale, the special assistant to the president for disability policy. We had a wide-ranging conversation about Bookshare and the current hot disability issues. Really exciting.

The one incredibly newsworthy item was Kareem emailed me (during the meeting) a statement he drafted on the topic of the Global Treaty that was discussed in late May at the SCCR event at the World Intellectual Property Organization. I found it very exciting as President Obama's position on this developing issue! The following is the email I received from Kareem Dale in its entirety (and I have his permission to distribute it):

Access to information and ideas is essential for personal and professional growth and full engagement in a democratic society. But engagement can be severely limited when information is not available in accessible formats. We are committed to building a world that no longer puts up unnecessary barriers. We must create…

Copyright treaty in Geneva Advances!

Lots of excitement recently in Geneva at the World Intellectual Property Organization. We've been supportive of an effort by the World Blind Union to get an international treaty in place that sets up a global system much like the one we have today in the United States. I was part of an expert panel that drafted the original proposed treaty.

Bookshare pretty much has been made possible by the Chafee Amendment, a copyright exception provision in U.S. law that made it legal for us to scan just a bout any book without needing to get permissions first. The goal of the treaty is to set a standard that all countries have such a provision, and that they interact with other countries.

Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay joined together to propose that WIPO consider this treaty. During the meeting in Geneva, there was worrisome rhetoric coming from the advocacy community, like the Boing Boing post USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to protect blind people's access to written m…

Bookshare hits 50,000 books!

Another exciting milestone has happened with the Bookshare collection. Thanks to tremendous work by our volunteers, our publisher partners, our proofreading partners and our staff, we've added more than 4,000 books in the last two months and broken the 50,000 titles barrier.

Now, I sure wasn't expecting us to add books at this rate! We've been adding books at more than 1000 books a month earlier this year, and I think that rate is definitely sustainable. Can't wait to see what happens the rest of 2009 with the incredible book juggernaut we've got going.

And, we don't lose sight of the equality we're striving to deliver. Just minutes ago I received an email forwarded from our team from a user in Puerto Rico telling us that our response to her rush request for a book had just helped her pass her final exam. She rained down blessings on the Bookshare team for helping her out.

That's why we're all doing this!