One of the fun things about writing Blind Confidential is having the opportunity to enjoy a stream of consciousness writing style and, as I’ve said many times before, not worrying too much about the facts. I try to be as truthful as memory serves me but, sometimes, get a name, date or important detail entirely wrong. If I spent a lot of time checking references and fact checking articles, BC would become more of a job than a place to play with my writing, experiment with literary forms and rant and rave about whatever comes to mind.
Sometimes, however, I feel the need to post a correction to an article where something jumps out as blatantly incorrect or wildly overstated. I did this with the article about the distinctions about discrimination against people with disabilities and the hatred felt by many other minorities and, today, I will provide a couple of corrections to things I overstated in yesterday’s post about 3D audio.
The first and easiest correction is that I said that Travis Roth worked for Apple, he doesn’t. In fact, I don’t know where he works. I had intended to say Travis Brown who does work with MBJ at Apple and who deserves some of the credit for VoiceOver. I know Travis Roth from mailing lists and such and, for no good reason; my brain hiccupped when I wrote that sentence.
Yesterday, a person whom I assume is a woman named Mia posted a comment that said she had independently invented some of the same three dimensional audio concepts for screen readers that I claimed ownership of. I will take her at her word and will apologize for overstating my contribution. I am not the audio interface Messiah nor did I have all of the good ideas presented thus far. I have, however, been what I believe to be the most vocal advocate of such user interface metaphors. I hope Mia writes to me directly so we can exchange ideas and, perhaps, publish something together. I also assume that others have had similar ideas and wish they would come forward so we can compare notes and take the best parts of all of our ideas in a collaborative manner.
During the meetings when I pounded the tables and whined the phrase, “rich contextual information…” into the minutes of more meetings than I would like to remember, I hoped dearly that others would pick up the ball and do this kind of work. Peter Korn and the gnome API team certainly took it to heart and added cool context functions to the gnome API and our friends at Apple, according to rumor, have picked up the idea in the next version of VoiceOver.
So, I will humbly admit that I am not the soul originator of such ideas or the lone advocate, I’ve just shouted a bit louder and placed more written works into the public debate than most others.
Finally, Peter Meijer posted a comment asking for my software so he could compare my work to his very cool VOIC program. Due to some copyright restraints, I cannot do so at this moment but expect to have something out there in a month or two. I should have mentioned Peter’s work and VOIC as it is a major contributor to audio interfaces and sonafication of ambient settings. I recommend that everyone who finds this stuff interesting get hold of a web camera and a copy of VOIC (a free download from their web site) and play around with it.
One major difference between my work and Peter’s is that he uses stereo and I use SurroundSound-like effects. VOIC requires the user be trained and my efforts try to represent objects in a manner that one can comprehend with no more than a few seconds of training. Peter’s work provides far more details and is far more advanced than mine and VOIC handles far more than geometric primitives already and I’ve no idea if my work will be useful when applied to irregular objects.
There are certainly others out there doing interesting things that have flown beneath my radar and I encourage lots of others to experiment with these ideas. I also encourage screen reader and others who sell audio products to we blinks try to commercialize some of these ideas. I have not written a single patent application on any of my concepts and publish them with the intention that they find their way into useful programs without requiring that anyone pay me a royalty. I believe in innovation, not litigation and that ideas should be free, as in freedom, with a lower case f.