Planet

By Mike Gifford on 11/05/2018
Speakers at the meeting to produce a Canadian version of the OECD Playbook for ICT Procurement
Everybody wants their website to be accessible. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is key for any modern organization. In the Government of Canada, it is a clear part of the Liberal Party's mandate. Setting a strong policy direction is critical, but then what?
Most departments still see accessibility as a one-liner that can be added to an ICT contract. Then the responsibility for any shortfalls lies on the vendor.
Sadly, this doesn't work. Accessibility is a journey, not a destination.
Web accessibility is complicated, the ecosystem and use cases change over time. So what can...
By Mike Gifford on 09/05/2018
Cenotaph in Ottawa - Symbols of Privacy & Freedom
The tech sector has undermined personal privacy in the constant pursuit of the latest shiny thing. Privacy is a core component of our democracy and is essential for free expression.
Most have assumed that it is built into the online tools that they use every day. This isn't the case. The media coverage of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook how dangerous this is. The model of surveillance capitalism put forward by Google is now very advanced. Big Data & Artificial Intelligence gives businesses more insights than Big Brother dreamed possible.
Many people are coming to the realization that...
By Mike Gifford on 26/04/2018
Siim speaking about the Estonian Digital Government
I have to say that historically, I haven't had a good reason to think much about Estonia. It's just the first of the Baltic countries that we covered in history class in high-school. It wasn't until the FWD50 conference in Ottawa where this really shifted.
Siim Sikkut spoke about Estonia building up a digital government from the ground up. The contemporary Estonian government started only 1992, shortly after the WWW started. There were some bold leaders who decided to start not with what other countries had done, but to start digital. He mentioned e-Residency & the ease of starting a new...
By Mike Gifford on 06/04/2018
OpenConcept Website with Fluid UI Preference Editor
Accessibility is complicated. There is no single site that is universally accessible. One of the best initiatives I've seen by an organization was the BBC with their My web my way accessibility section. Unfortunately, they have decided to archive it and stop maintaining these pages. It is unclear to me whether any of the personalization options defined here will continue to be supported or not within the BBC.  I do think that sites could do more to help explain how their users can get the most out of their site.  Most sites who do this put it alongside their Accessibility Statement.
I'm on...
By Mike Gifford on 02/10/2017
Photo from B Corp Retreat outlining need for interdependence.
OpenConcept is a pretty small company and most of our services we consume are digital, so in the scheme of things, we have a pretty small footprint on our planet and our local economy. That being said, as Mahatma Gandhi said “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."
I just returned from my second B Corp Champions Retreat and I am even more enthusiastic about being able to leverage our small contributions to make a much bigger impact. I believe strongly in fixing the problems at the source, and many of our societal problems boil down to consumption...
By Mike Gifford on 12/06/2017
Canadian Flag Behind Chicken Wire
Originally posted on LinkedIN in two parts.
The Government of Canada’s Web Renewal Initiative has failed. It may not be public yet, but there really is no way to redeem this half-conceived initiative to centralize all government pages onto a single website - Canada.ca.
This goal was lifted from the UK Government’s Government Digital Services (GDS). The goal of the GDS team was no less than digital transformation. Our government appears to have mistaken the alpha.gov.uk site as the end goal, rather than a platform with which to experiment with new ideas in government usability. The GDS is...
By Mike Gifford on 05/12/2016
Image flow chart
This article was initially posted as a guest blog on The Digital Echidna Blog on December 2, 2016.
Lots of organizations are working hard to see that their IT is accessible to their visitors and staff. Reducing barriers for effective two-way communications is really important for businesses that want to engage fully with their community. Unfortunately, many organizations overlook the many challenges with online web forms.
Organizations who adopted Drupal 7 benefit from having semantic labels associated with their web forms automatically. This is a particular problem with custom built web-...
By Mike Gifford on 02/12/2016
This article was initially posted as a guest blog on The Digital Echidna Blog on November 29, 2016.
So you’ve gone all out on making your website accessible. You considered accessibility at every stage of your project. You started by choosing Drupal. You then evaluated the wireframes for potential problems, took careful consideration that the colours had sufficient contrast, had your developers do regular accessibility checks with every sprint, brought in an external reviewer at the end of the project to evaluate your work, etc.
It was the textbook example of how you should approach building...
By Mike Gifford on 07/01/2016
This article was initially posted in on Dec 29nd, 2015 in the Ottawa Business Journal.
Most of us are more connected to the Internet than ever before.
Not only do we have phones, tablets, game consoles, and televisions that are connected , but we also use the net for shopping, civic engagement, social and archival purposes. New appliances, cars and devices use the Internet without many of us even knowing it. So much of our lives are tangled up in the Web, and all indications are that this trend is increasing by leaps and bounds.
Many people are concerned about the social impacts of this...
By Mike Gifford on 23/10/2015
Wind and solar farm in California.

Stephanie Daniels sums it up well, "Optimized sites are better for the environment. That’s because they’re significantly faster, more usable, with content that’s optimized for SEO and user experience. It’s my belief that Drupal has all of the tools in place to create sustainable websites…if you just know where to look.".
If only I had Drupal back in 1995. That was the year I built my first website for a Fair Trade Retailer called Bridgehead. Back at this time, the Internet was a very different place. People were using the web at that point, but it wasn't embedded in our lives like it is now...

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