ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Ah, Joe Clark. —

Ah, Mister Joe Clark.

A person who has created some sort of visual work that has spoken language will decide they want it to be more accessible, either to people who don’t speak the language or to a raft of other folks (who I’ll cover in a moment). Naturally, these people will start searching around on Google or other engines to find anyone discussing the subject, and will, occasionally, end up on your site. A cursory glance appears to be just the medicine/resource they’re looking for; a wide range of entries discussing subtitles, captions, accessibility and information on how to bring this into their project.

There are a number of such self-described gurus on the internet running websites as collections of their wisdom. Some seem altruistic, some fell into it and never left, and some are obviously using these sites as (nicely written) platforms towards attracting customers, employees or fans. Usually, one can find a selection of how-tos and collected reference documents, followed by quick-and-dirty overviews or thoughts on the subjects. You, on the surface, seem one of them. But you’re not.

What you are, ultimately, is what I would call a “Spec-Whore”. That is, someone who has gained access to documentation regarding specification and reference documentation on a given subject (in your case, captioning) and parlayed that into your own little empire, one in which your interpretation of them is law, the implementation by others is faulty and beneath contempt, and any attempts by those not touched by your magic wand/filter to interact with these specifications is worse than not doing it all.

You do not exude the positing and dismissal of a grand master who does his best to deter flighty students and then concentrating his efforts on those chosen few who pass the test. All are subject to your bile: expert, newbie and professional all fail under your withering, needlessly snarky gaze.

Your book on accessibility has amazon reviews decrying the manner in which you provide information. “holds all other human beings in contempt” seems to capture your writing style perfectly. (Awesome cover, by the way, causing unpleasant imagery in a 20 pages of good information spread along a 400 page miasma.)

I’m not the only person who finds you this way. In fact, even your needlessly threatening page about unpleasant comments about you has gained some small amount of infamy.

Perhaps you think this is some matter of “tough love”, that the road to success in your quest for employment and consultancy rests in coming off as one tough cookie. There is certainly precedent for that in some stories of success, but these stories usually involve a carefully chosen subset of your audience, not every living creature capable of clicking a mouse button. You are not a flashlight illuminating the subject; your writing is a nuclear bomb, obliterating the village you supposedly intend to save.

While the human race may fall beneath your radar in its incompetence in implementing standards of accessibility to your liking, the fact is that those of us merely using Subtitle Workshop or other tools to not require hearing or full attention to the screen do so because we want to help our audience. My mailbox has been filled with hundreds of letters thanking me for my attempts to caption/subtitle my documentary, whether from actual hard-of-hearing viewers or merely parents of young children sleeping in the next room who can only enjoy films quietly. Perhaps my subtitles fail to follow your perceived world but the audience speaks for itself.

Such as it is, what knowledge you may possess on this subject is of interest to two sets of folks: yourself, and anyone who does not take the time to dig deeper in your general posturing and realize you are an embittered, unpleasant self-styled expert who trashes anyone trying to do the right thing.

It pains me, literally pains me that people would still make the mistake of including you in a conversation regarding accessibility or multiple channels of information related to media; you destroy everything around you with your language, dismissing honest attempts to do right by people and gathering your meager talents in poring over available documentation to declare yourself the lord on high of your tiny little kingdom.

Categorised as: jason his own self | Uncategorized

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  1. […] Jason Scott rips into Joe Clark. I have learned a number of things from Joe Clark, and I still find reason to link someone to i let u b u at least once per quarter. But I can’t find much fault with this assessment of his words and his worldview. […]

  2. James says:

    For real accessibility advice, you could do worse than Mark Pilgrim who authored amongst other things (eg his blog/Twitter posts of March 2009).

  3. David Moisan says:

    I was on Joe’s list some years ago. I criticized him over some implementation of captioning. He did such a good job of making me feel small!

    Despite that I’m hearing-impaired and sit on my town’s disability commission…

  4. Sevenspade says:

    On the on hand, all right.

    On the other hand, some captions really do suck. I’m looking at you, Viacom.