Crowdfunded Prize For Open Source Jailbreaking iOS7 To Improve Accessibility
from the awesome-on-multiple-levels dept
Here’s a story which hits on so many different points that we’re interested in. There’s a new effort to crowdsource a “prize” for whoever can release an open source jailbreak for iOS7. First off, we’ve been big fans of “innovation prizes” like the X Prize. We’re also big fans of crowdfunding — so here’s an example of combining both of those: crowdfunding an innovation prize — which has already reached about $6,500 despite no publicity (yet). Next, the prize is for another thing that we think is of utmost importance: the freedom to tinker with products you bought. The locked down nature of the iPhone remains one of the shames of modern technology. Encouraging a true, open source jailbreak is important in opening up the technology — for a variety of important reasons (including a huge one that inspired this project, as will be explained below). The project also has a four person team to judge which solution will qualify for the prize, including some folks you might recognize: Cory Doctorow, Kyle Wiens (of iFixit) and Gabreilla Coleman (professor who studies hacktivism, Anonymous and has posted here).
But perhaps the most interesting (if unfortunate) point in this story is the reason for the project in the first place. The fourth judge is Chris Maury, who inspired the creation of this project in the first place. Maury has Stargardt’s Macular Degeneration, a genetic condition that has taken him from having 20/20 vision just a few years ago to rapidly losing his vision, to the point that he will eventually be legally blind (already he can no longer drive). He would like to be able to actually use his iPhone but much of the software that makes the phone usable with his vision isn’t available in the iTunes App Store. Thus, he needs to jailbreak the phone in order to use it.
This is really the most shameful part of locked down systems. In the past, we’ve talked about how the short-sighted view of people who want to lock out certain types of applications almost resulted in a young girl being unable to communicate, and here we have a situation where someone with a severe visual impairment can’t get everything possible out of the devices he’s purchased. What kind of world are we living in that we think it’s okay to have this as “standard operating procedures” for the electronics we use every day?
Thankfully, what giant companies try to lock up, creativity can hopefully unlock. And, in this case, we’ve got layer upon layer of creative innovations to try to get around a bad situation. While it’s unfortunate that such a project is even necessary in the first place, it’s inspiring to see this kind of creativity pop up to try to solve the problem. Go check out the project. If you want to contribute to the prize, you can do so there (and, yes, they accept Bitcoin, too), or if you feel like creating an open source jailbreak for iOS7 and collecting the prize (or just basking in the wonders of doing something good), check it out as well.