Saturday, January 02, 2010

Newington Armory Arts Precinct

Newington Armory, formerly a RAN Armament Depot is now a riverside park and arts precinct near Olympic Park in Sydney. Unfortunately it is difficult to find details of what is on there. The Olympic Park web site mentions a "Heritage Railway Discovery Tour" and a "Sydney Olympic Park Lodge" (a YMCA) but the links for these do not work from the Armory page. It appears the site can only be visited on foot or bike between 10am and 4pm on Sundays. There is also the Armoury Warf Cafe, which is not mentioned on the Olympic Park web page, but appears to be open every day (and for dinner Friday and Saturday). Currently on display is "Art with Altitude".

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Web accessibility and Government 2.0

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released its submission to the Government 2.0 Taskforce. The commission is not keen on PDF and recommends the W3C accessibility guidelines.The Sydney 2000 Olympics web case is described in the submission and my seminar notes for the Oxford University Computing Laboratory are cited.
  1. The Commission believes that government departments and agencies need to improve their provision of equal access to public information, especially for people with disability.

  2. Departments and agencies can improve their web presences by following the standards promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and the Commission.

  3. Basic web accessibility is mandatory for Australian Government departments and agencies. Allowing sites to be launched that are inaccessible risks complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

  4. The Commission recognises the value of Web 2.0 technologies for collaboration with the community, however many of these technologies are not currently accessible for people with disability. Government departments and agencies should provide sufficient technologies to allow participation for all.

  5. Additionally, the Commission believes that online forums developed by the Government should have adequate agency guidelines and Acceptable Use Policies to enable moderators and developers of forums to be alert to discrimination that may occur online. This will help to foster a discrimination-free environment when engaging with the community.

Summary from: Web accessibility and Government 2.0, Australian Human Rights Commission submission to the Government 2.0 Taskforce – Towards Government 2.0 an issues paper, 1 October 2009

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympics Online Coverage Blocked for Apple and Linux Users?

A blog entry by Tim Bray, speculates that the 2008 Beijing Olympics will only be available online to Microsoft Windows users and those with newer Apple Macs. This seems unlikely, as if for no other reason it would make the Olympics less accessible to the disabled, exposing NBC and Microsoft to lawsuits for unlawful discrimination. I was one of the expert witnesses in the accessibility case over the 2000 Olympics and invited to Beijing in 2003 to talk at a BOCOG 2008 Olympic web site symposium.
Not all is sweetness and light around the Olympics. The 2008 version in Beijing will be made available online; but only via Silverlight. Which means that if you use a Linux or Solaris box, or one of the few million pre-Intel Macs that are still out there, the Olympic Community doesn’t want peons like you on board. This seems scandalous to me, but nobody else seems to care.

From: Tab Sweep — World, Tim Bray, 2008/01/13
Just to unravel what is being said: Silverlight is a Microsoft developed web browser plugin to provide similar features to Adobe Flash. Tim refers to a blog entry by a Microsoft staff member who makes claims about exclusive coverage of the Olympics:

On 8-8-08 the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will officially kick off in Beijing, China. ...

We have signed an agreement to partner with NBC Universal to build a Silverlight 2.0 based web broadcast of the 2008 Summer Olympic games. This agreement also sets MSN as the official home of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

As a part of this, we will provide users with exclusive access to over 3000 hours of live and on-demand video content via Silverlight streaming. This means that viewers can access every minute of every event. Additionally, the amount of meta-data attached to each of the streams will be extensive and include links to player bios, medal counts, shortcuts to particular events (i.e. athlete x’s third long-jump attempt), maps of the Olympic facilities, pop-up overlays with real-time event alerts, headlines, video search capabilities, etc. ...

From: 2008 Olympics brought to you by Silverlight, January 07, 2008 2:54 AM, Somasegar

This in turn refers to an agreement with NBC, which was reported earlier by news sources:
... NBC Universal, owner of the exclusive U.S. media rights to this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China (August 8-24, 2008), announced today that it was teaming up with MSN and Microsoft in an unprecedented strategic alliance to create " on MSN", a next-generation online experience for Olympic fans across the United States. With thousands of hours of competition video in both live and on-demand formats, deep analysis and results delivered from NBC's award-winning broadcast and digital media teams, and Microsoft's Silverlight technology to deliver deeply immersive user experiences,'s coverage will be powered by MSN and Microsoft technology to complement NBC's broadcast programming and put millions of fans in control of the Olympic sports,
athletes and countries they want to watch.
.... During the Beijing Games, ( content will be prominently featured on the homepage (, seen by
over 100 million users per month, as well as on MSN Video ( and across the MSN and Windows Live networks, all moving the massive MSN Network audience to's complete coverage of the Games.

As a result of this unprecedented alliance, " on MSN" will
deliver: -- 2,200 hours of live event video coverage, with more than 20
simultaneous live video streams at peak times
-- More than 3,000 hours of on-demand video content including full-event
replays, highlights, features, interviews and encore packages.
-- An "enhanced playback mode" powered by Silverlight that gives users the
choice of a high-quality full screen viewing experience that is as good
or better than anything on the Internet today
-- Unique metadata overlays powered by Silverlight that enable fans to
have access not only to high quality video, but also to the wealth of
related content including results, statistics, comprehensive bios,
rules and expert analysis from NBC's Olympic digital media team in
-- Live video alerts so fans can stay connected to the events and teams
they care most about
-- Social networking features that enable fans to share aspects of their
Olympic experience with friends ...

Adam Freifeld of NBC Sports, +1-201-965-2971,; or
Adam Sohn of Microsoft, +1-503-443-7000,

From: NBC Universal and Microsoft Team Up On Unprecedented Web Offering for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Reuters, an 6, 2008 9:30pm EST
Some points to note from this:
  1. USA only: The International Olympic committee allocates TV rights to the games on a country basis. NBC only has the U.S. media rights to 2008 Olympics and so whatever is done will only effect those in the USA.
  2. Video Only: The media release was about the way video will be delivered online, it does not necessary mean that other Olympic information, such as text, audio and still images will be delivered this way. In addition, even if NBC and Microsoft only deliver information in this format, similar information should be available from other Olympic suppliers.
  3. Accessibility Law: Under the laws of the USA, Australia, UK and many other countries, organizations providing services via the web are required to supply them to persons with a disability. Failing to do this is unlawful. This principle was established in the 2000 Sydney Olympics case which I was an expert witness for. It seems unlikely that NBC or Microsoft could fail to be aware of their obligation to provide access for the disabled to Olympic coverage. Microsoft's web site includes a case study for the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid, which mentions accessibility for people with a disability. Microsoft's search engine returned 250,000 hits on "2000 olympics web accessibility" and 16,000 on "2008 Olympics "web accessibility".
See also:

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

City Integration Key to Olympic Success

Lawrence Nield of Bligh Voller Nield Architects, talked on Olympic Designs and his experience in planning and design for the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics at Old Parliament House in Canberra today. There is also an exhibition "Olympic Cities: Designing for Winning" at the same venue until 17 February 2008. There was also supposed to be a display of winning entries in a design competition for a The Athletic Village: Designs to Combat Obesity., but I did not notice them.

This is part of the University of Canberra's Canberra Biennial: Winning by Design: Designing for Sport in 21C. This seems to be a poorly organised and halfhearted attempt at a cultural event. Those responsible should either put the resources into the 2010 or cancel it.

Lawrence Nield gave an excellent talk, despite having just arrived from London, where he has been part of bids for the 2012 Olympic venues. He argued that the sport is an important urban ritual. Cities are more important that countries for the Olympics. He pointed out that an Australian competed in the first modern Olympics in 1896. Later games were not just about sport and incorporated art and some where held in conjunctions with expositions (Paris and St Luis). Helsinki has the most influential Olympic stadium architecture. The architect for the 1940 (unofficial) Olympics is unknown. Mexico had the best graphics. Barcelona integrated the games into public spaces of the city. Atlanta had the poorest public transport. Sydney succeeded by bringing heavy rail into the Olympic venue. Athens similarly used transport well.

Lawrence Nield suggested London 2012 would have been better off using the new Wembley stadium than building a new venue. He said that the time of the games could be extended and cheaper venues used to allow African and South American cities to host the games.

For my more modest contribution to Olympic design, see: Making an Accessible and Functional Website for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website Preliminary Strategy Plan Symposium, Beijing, November 2003.

See also:
Books on Olympic architecture
Web pages on Olympic architecture

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Designing for the Olympics

Lawrence Nield of Bligh Voller Nield Architects, will talk on Olympic Designs and his experience in planning and design for the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics at in Canberra on 18 November 2007. There is also an exhibition Olympic Cities: Designing for Winning at the same venue until 17 February 2008 and a display of winning entries in a design competition for a The Athletic Village: Designs to Combat Obesity. This is part of the Unviersity of Canberra's Canberra Biennial: Winning by Design: Designing for Sport in 21C.

For my more modest contribution to Olympic design, see: Making an Accessible and Functional Website for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website Preliminary Strategy Plan Symposium, Beijing, November 2003.

Olympic designs Sunday 18 November

conjunction with the Canberra Biennial exhibition Olympic cities: Designing for Winning, Lawrence Nield — principal of Bligh Voller Nield architects, urban designer and distinguished sports architect, will share his experience and expertise in Olympic planning and design in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

His designs have won numerous awards, including the RAIA Sir Zelman Cowan Award for Public Buildings in 1997 for his work on the University of the Sunshine Coast Library and the Sir John Sulman Medallion for the Sydney Olympic Tennis Centre.

Free after entry 2.00pm–3.00pm

From: What's On, Old Parliament House, King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Olympic Cities: Designing for Winning

“Olympic Games are about contest, spectacle and cities. Design is therefore not flags and bunting, not expensive over-elaboration, but the necessary ordering of size and significance to give an appropriate, characteristic and memorable background to the world’s biggest peacetime event.” Lawrence Nield

A must see for Olympic planners and anyone interested in the effect on cities that hallmark events like the Olympics cause. The focus of the exhibition is Australia’s premier mind in the field of planning for Olympics, Lawrence Nield.

Lawrence shares his experience working on various aspects of the bids for the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics. The Barcelona Olympics will be included to show a major shift in Olympic planning and London will be featured as a summary of Olympic thinking to date.

9 November 2007 to 17 February 2008 9am – 5pm
Old Parliament House, King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra, ACT
Admission to the exhibition is free after admission to Old Parliament House of $2 Adult, $1 Child or $5 Family.

The Athletic Village: Designs to Combat Obesity

Design and architecture students from around Australia have entered the Biennial’s Athletic Village Design Ideas Competition. The competition called for students to:
- Explore the impact of design on obesity.
- Encourage innovation and design excellence.
- Explore multidisciplinary design solutions which encourage collaboration in particular between the fields of design and health.
- Stimulate debate regarding the capacity of design to improve public health outcomes.

The Athletic Village Design Ideas Competition recognises that obesity is a critical issue affecting millions of people around the world. It affects not only individuals, but societies as a whole, placing an increasing burden on health and financial systems through secondary diseases, conditions and their costs. The Athletic Village Design Ideas Competition also recognises that the causes of obesity are many, complex, and often interrelated.

Some of these causes are directly related to the built environment, and many others are the indirect result of design issues from architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, interior design, to the proliferation of home cinemas. Despite the broad influences affecting societal obesity, design arguably presents a key opportunity with respect to rebalancing societies’ long-held attitudes, priorities and needs to attain a more cohesive, fulfilled and sustainable lifestyle. In particular, design has the potential to foster, promote and develop more active lifestyles for people of all ages. While design alone cannot solve the obesity epidemic, it has a critical role to play in addressing some of the triggers and causes. ...

All entries will be displayed at the Olympic Cities: Designing for Winning exhibition at Old Parliament House and online. From 9 November 2007
9am-5pm Admission to the exhibition is free after admission to Old Parliament House of $2 Adult, $1 Child or $5 Family.

From: Exhibitions, Canberra Biennial, 2007
See also:

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