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Startup Weekend Detroit

Originally posted by Charlie Wollborg on the TEDxDetroit LinkedIn group. I just had to spread it. I attended the first Startup Weekend Detroit a few years ago and had a great time and met some amazing people. I would recommend the event to anyone!

We love to highlight the many cool startups springing to life in Detroit every year at TEDxDetroit. Here’s your chance to be part of one.

Startup Weekend is returning to Detroit February 17th. It’s a 54-hour celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. 100 makers, thinkers and doers walk into a building Friday night and 10 new web-based companies emerge on Sunday. From forming teams to brainstorming to business plans to designing mockups to coding prototypes to making the big pitch to venture capitalists, it all happens in one crazy weekend. It’s an amazing experience.

If you’re an artist, technologist, designer, geek, illustrator, coder or entrepreneur, you need to be part of Startup Weekend Detroit.

This year’s event will be even more special as it’s being held at the spectacular Madison Building (the home of Detroit Venture Parters, Detroit Labs and several other budding tech companies). It’s hosted by a couple of Xs – Brandon Chestnutt and Henry Balanon (who presented at TEDxDetroit in 2010). Networking, innovation, inspiration and education will surround you. It’s the perfect environment in which to test crazy ideas and take the first step towards launching a company that becomes the next big thing.

You can learn more and register at: http://detroit.startupweekend.org but don’t delay, this event sells out every year.

Come fan that entrepreneurial flame that burns bright inside you. Who knows – we might be hearing all about your success story on stage at the next TEDxDetroit.

Keep Creating –

Charlie Wollborg
curator, TEDxDetroit

Help me climb 70 stories in the Fight for Air!

On March 4th, 2012 I am going to take on Michigan’s tallest building (the Renaissance Center) all the way to the 70th floor by climbing 1,035 stairs. I am climbing in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb to help raise money for lung disease research, education and advocacy.

I am doing so because I am able. I can breathe freely and there are many people who are not as lucky. I am joining a team of likeminded Web designers and developers from Detroit on my journey, our team name is the “Quadzillas“.

I am writing this blog post because I would love your support

For the 2012 Fight for Air stair climb my team would like to raise a minimum of $1,035 dollars, or $1 for every step in the GM Renaissance Center.

We need your help! You can donate to one person, or spread it out among the members. You can donate $1 (one step) or $15 (one floor) or any amount you want! Either way you choose to donate is greatly appreciated! Or if you would like to join me I would be honored to climb with you!

Your donation to the American Lung Association will sustain their commitment to the prevention of all respiratory diseases including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and asthma.

Thank you for your support of my effort to raising money for this very important cause.

More Information | Donate

Thinking about going to Web Design World? #highered discount available!

Web Design World is coming soon (very soon) – October 18-20 in Las Vegas – and if you’ve never been before (or even if you have and want to attend this year), they have a great deal to pass along to you! I know it’s late in the game for #highered but I thought I would pass this along just in case.

First of all, Web Design World has a great line-up of rock stars in design, UX, content management and more. There will even be a session entitled “Education vs. Other Markets: How Does Design Differ?” with Patrick Haney and Dan Rubin. You can check out the full conference agenda at http://bit.ly/WDWAgenda.

The organizers of Web Design World are extending a special discount for the 3-day Web Design World Passport package – just for higher education web designers and webmasters! To save $400 off the Passport package rate, simply register at http://bit.ly/WDWReg and enter the promo code EDU10.* That’s it!

* Please note: $400 discount is applicable to new registrations only. No refunds will be given on prior registrations.

I just wanted to clarify that I am not attending Web Design World nor is this a paid endorsement. Just a friendly post about a discount that pertains to my favorite group, higher education web rock stars! 🙂

MSU World Usability Day 2009 Wrap Up

Great turn out at #wud2009 at MSUYesterday I attended the MSU World Usability Day which focused on usability and accessibility not only for the web but for the physical world. The theme of this years World Usability Day was sustainability. One of the main themes throughout the day was there is a large difference between things appearing to be usable and their actual use.

Below is a run through of the day with a few things I wanted to highlight.

In the morning

There were two break out sections, I attended the WCAG 2.0, ARIA and AJAX presentation. It combined low level introductions of the current and future standards and how they are applied. I was surprised to see how little the browsers are taking advantage of these accessibility standards. Firefox 3.6 implements the most, 47 of the 59 total ARIA roles. They also did a recorded session using Jaws (this was my favorite part of the day) with a regular HTML page, regular AJAX and ARIA enabled AJAX. They were nice enough to put the examples and videos online for everyone to see. It made an amazing difference watching the video and see just how easy it was to add ARIA into AJAX applications and actually make your site usable to users on a screen reader.

After lunch

A panel presented the Contemporary Issues of IT in the Sustainable Global Knowledge Economy. This was very interesting because it went beyond the typical accessibility and talked about access. Starting with delivering broadband to rural areas, currently 500,000 Michigan homes are in rural areas where no broadband service is offered. Using the governments stimulus incentives this could all be changed.

Then more locally they talked about how ITEC Lansing is transforming the technology skills for Lansing’s youth. Sharron Rush from Knowbility then talked about how IT is changing the game for people with disabilities, given them the ability to access the outside world like no other time in history. She really put it in perspective when she did an exercise that explained by the time you are 80, a large majority of people (around 90%) will develop a some type of disability.

Think you know how to set a household clock? If you're at #wud2009  at MSU come see the MIUPA table and try it out, you might be surprised.

During the break

We did a usability study with household alarm clocks. We had four different clocks and had people estimate how easy/hard it would be to change the time/alarm. We then timed them changing the clock’s time and if they were successful or not. We then had them give an actual score to how easy/hard it was and comments to why it was that way. Only one clock turned out to be easier than expected. The final results should be up soon.

After the break

An interesting presentation by Shane Schulze from Ford about hybrid cars, batteries and where it is going. During the Q&A a very good point was brought up by a participant who was blind. She asked what Ford was planning to do about how silent electric cars are. She walks everywhere as do people without disabilities and silent cars are a big hazard. This was a great question, unfortunately Shane didn’t have a concrete answer at the time. I really hope this topic stays on Ford’s and the other car manufacturers radar.


I wanted to thank everyone from the MSU Usability & Accessibility Center who put this conference on. The MIUPAand all the vendors who made this happen. It was a great experience and I encourage anyone to attend a World Usability Day event near you next year.

Remember, it is us, the every day workers who can make the largest impact in usability, accessibility and access. Don’t accept the status quo, be a leader and demand access for all. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you should be locked out of information.

TEDxDetroit Wrap Up

TEDxDetroit Logo

This last week I attended TEDxDetroit. An independently organized TED event held at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield, Michigan. The idea of TEDxDetroit is to spread positive ideas for the world from Detroit. Seating was limited and I was one of the lucky 150 hand picked attendees. Although the videos from all the speakers will be available shortly I wanted to take some time and reflect on the event as a whole.

The Event

All the speakers were either from the Detroit area or had some connection to Detroit. Charlie Wollborg along with a few others did an amazing job bringing in such a diverse group of speakers. The day was broken into four sections, powering, educating, perceiving and connecting.

The powering section started out strong with some inspiration and then got down to business with an alternative way to gather wind energy and a different way to think about electric cars. Mixed in was musical performances about Michigan and Detroit.

Educating section was a filled with local Detroiters who are really making a difference in the community. Chazz Miller stood out the most because of the amazing things he is doing with art, Detroit and the youth. He was referred to many times by other presenters as a “hurricane”, fundamentally changing Detroit with amazing force.

The perceiving section had some amazing stories about the current and future state of Detroit. Two presenters really stuck out, the first was a poem by D Blair titled “Detroit (While I Was Away)”.  You can see an unofficial recording of it at the link. It’s a view that many of us have of Detroit, it’s what makes Detroit home. Although it’s not the best view it shows the passion, drive and determination of the entire city. The second was Lee Thomas talking about his struggle with vitiligo and turning all lives experiences into positive power.

The last section connecting was also highly inspiring. PJ Jacokes talked about demanding imagination. PJ runs Go Comedy, an improv theater and encourages all of us to take time to explore our imagination. He asks “When was the last time the floor was made of lava”? A world without imagination is boring and mundane, we cannot get caught in the impression of “adulthood” and just let go and dream every once and a while. It will make you focus on the things that are really important.


The attendees were amazing, everyone I met was very open, friendly and doing great work. All the speakers were very inspiring and uplifting and had a very clear vision for Detroit and how to move it forward. The ideas have to start someplace and these speakers took full advantage of their time to inspire us.

I am so glad I was invited to attend TEDxDetroit and have been inspired to go forth to inspire others and move Detroit forward.

I also posted a few photos to Flickr from the event.