Recently I complained to my husband that I felt like I did nothing but work. I went on to describe my day: Waking up at 6:30, heading to the (home) office to work at 7:30 where I would read emails from work, work on steady projects, answer emails about new projects and work more on steady projects until around 4:30 (with a lunch break somewhere around noon). Then I’d either run errands or do household chores then make dinner and/or help clean up after dinner. After dinner we’d either watch television together or do something separately until going to bed at 10:00 or so.
Now, I am sure most people would consider watching TV or reading as not working, and they would be right, but I think what I meant when I made the complaint to my husband about working all the time was that I never got a chance to write anymore. My days were spent in front of a computer and I didn’t want to spend my free time there too. But my writing takes place on a computer. I’m no good, anymore, at keeping a pen and paper journal. No spell check. No grammar check. No easy look up of things. No way to easily insert images.
The Internet has allowed me to find and do a job I love, but it has also allowed me to become lazy. It has allowed me to rely on it for its ease of everything from writing to researching to communicating with friends and colleagues.
There must be a healthy balance between on and off screen-time existence. I’ve just not found it yet.
I’ve been dreaming about tagging for the past few nights. Twice in the past week I’ve been awakened by Dean shaking me in the middle of the night because I was screaming. The tagging I’m talking about is not this kind of tagging:
The kind of tagging that is giving me nightmares is the tagging I do anywhere between 4 and 12 hours a day, 7 days a week:
In the dream I’m in an endless loop of tag, tag, tag, tag, save. Tag, tag, tag, save. Tag, tag, tag, save and then something jumps out of the tags which scares me and I scream. It may be partly because I’ve been watching Dead Like Me while I tag. Maybe I’m waiting for the grim reaper to take me away from all this tagging.
I think I need a new profession. Any recommendations?
Sometimes I think I should be in a field that doesn’t change so rapidly. I used to be able to keep up with the changes in technology, but lately I’ve become overwhelmed and frustrated and sad.
I really believe in what I do — in making web sites accessible. A few years ago it was easier in some ways and harder in others. It was easy in that the main language of the web was simple html and I instructed the coders of the sites I managed to make sure all information was presented in html as well as — or instead of — other formats.
One of the biggest problems then was Portable Document Format or, as it is more commonly known — PDF. Back in 2001 when Section 508 was first enforced PDFs were considered pretty much inaccessible. I even wrote an online and print article on how inaccessible they were in a magazine called First Gov or Fed Web something like that (you’d think I’d remember who published my only published article). I went to seminars to see if I could learn how to make them accessible and learned that the best way at the time was to re-create them as html.
Now it is 2009. Adobe released Acrobat 9 — the premier PDF author. A PDF file created, and often fixed, with Acrobat 9 can be read with a screen reader. I was eventually assigned to to help make the existing as well as new content presented in PDF on a portion of the Head Start Web site accessible. I began a blog about the process and am going to give a talk on this subject in January. Things seemed to be working out with PDF files — and even I believed they could be accessible.
However, as I found out by reading a thread on an accessibility email list, while screen readers can read PDF files ok (if tagged correctly) they might not be able to be easily read by someone with low vision who does not use a screen reader. That the ability to fix problems for these folks with low vision is not even built into PDF files. So, no matter how hard I work to make the files accessible, they will not be accessible to everyone and at some time in the future, when Adobe figures out how to make the fixes, someone — maybe me or maybe someone else — will have to go back and correct all of the PDFs that I’ve already fixed.
This may not seem important or even an issue at all, but perhaps I am a bit of a perfectionist and now I know that what I’m doing cannot be perfect. I’ve slowed down in my work since I read that email — I just can’t bring myself to face these files and these tens of thousands of tags.
I have to keep on reading these emails because this is where I learn. I’m just a little disillusioned at the moment. But I’d better get moving — there is college tuition to pay.