The Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language

24 06 2011

The Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) went live today at http://nzsl.vuw.ac.nz/

This online dictionary is the culmination of over twenty years of work, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been involved since the beginning.

The dictionary is an extensive resource for people who use or want to learn NZSL. Videos accompany line drawings and text to describe the signs. The site can be used as a monolingual dictionary (search for signs by their features, eg handshape, location etc) or a bilingual dictionary (search for signs by their corresponding English words). Explanations of NZSL grammar and usage as well as tutorial material appear in both NZSL and English.

One of the coolest features of the dictionary is the large corpus of usage examples that was collected for use in the dictionary. Each example sentence appears as a video, with glosses for each sign in the sentence along with an English translation of the sentence. Clicking on a gloss will take you to the entry for that particular sign. A tremendous amount of analysis work by the team went into collecting, videoing and glossing the usage examples. Aside from making using the dictionary useful for learning how signs are used in context and exploring unfamiliar signs in detail, I have no doubt that this linked corpus will form an indispensable resource for future linguistic analysis.

3months.com built a really lovely front-end (Rails) for my back-end Freelex (Perl / Catalyst / Postgres) system.

This work is a taonga which will be loved and habitually used by many people over the coming years.




InternetNZ Council Candidacy

23 06 2011

Last year, I was elected to the InternetNZ Council for a one-year term, as the result of the early resignation of Chris Streatfield. After one amazing but short year in office, I’m pleased to offer my services again as a councillor.

In the last year I have

  • Made significant contributions to the development of the Investment and Charitable Grants policies
  • Organised the NetHui session on Digital Literacy as part of the Access and Diversity stream
  • Encouraged a wider group of people from my diverse networks to join InternetNZ and participate in the conversation
  • Pressed for the widening of InternetNZ’s brief “up the stack”, so that we focus on the usage and impact of the Internet in wider society, rather than just the pipes
  • Connected InternetNZ staff and other councillors with appropriate people in external organisations where we can make a difference, such as the Wellington City Council’s Digital Strategy Development forum
  • Made myself available to members through Twitter, LinkedIn, and email to raise any issues of concern to Council
  • Promoted a culture of creative entrepreneurship, shared purpose, and respect around the council table

If re-elected, I will continue to work hard to ensure that:

  • The NZ Internet (in the widest sense) remains open and uncapturable
  • Council focusses on its responsibility to its members as well as wider society in its full diversity
  • InternetNZ gets the best out of its staff and operating companies, supporting our excellent Chief Execs to achieve the strategy we set
  • Strategic opportunities are recognised and seized as they arise
  • I am available and approachable for members to voice their concerns and act as a conduit to Council.

I look forward to continuing in my role to keep InternetNZ the great organisation it is, and expand its impact and the good it does in society.




Bright Ideas Need Scintillating Teams

22 06 2011

I was invited to speak for five minutes at the Bright Ideas networking event last night. Here’s what I said:

You’ve heard of them before -

Orville and Wilbur
Hewlett and Packard
Jobs and Wozniak
Page and Brin
Mitchell and Youens

Even Zuckerberg had a team behind him, even if he screwed most of them along the way.

So you have a bright idea. I’m told there are some really interesting ones here tonight, ranging from geeky Internet plays to innovative service offerings through to novel contraceptive devices.

BUT

Ideas on their own are nearly worthless.

It’s your ability to execute that will determine your ultimate success.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to do it all on your own.

Are you an inventor, engineer, sales person, strategist, customer support, company director, financier, and janitor all rolled into one? It’s not impossible, but it’s pretty unlikely.

If you don’t have the vision, passion, drive and charisma to get a team around you, you’re unlikely to have the charm to sell your first unit. So get a team around you.

Investors are far less likely to invest in an individual than in a great team.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Matt Ridley’s TED talk entitled “When Ideas have Sex”, but he posits that the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is. Bottom line: you can’t do it on your own. Sharing ideas is fun, and results in better and stronger ideas that naturally select and adapt to the environment.

So that’s why you’re here tonight – to meet other people and – well – share your ideas with them in the hope that you can improve your ideas and more importantly get together and put some real capability to execute behind those improved ideas. And when you can do that – you start looking a lot less like a pipe dream, and a lot more like a business.