The launch of the http://www.sela.org.il/ Web site

Last Wednesday evening, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel together with some partners (Joint Israel, Joint USA and Globes) launched the Sela information Web site in memory of Dr. Israel Sela. The event was held in Danny House, Hatikva quarter, Tel Aviv. At this opportunity, the Institute also celebrated its 13th year of existence.

The new Web site is intended to be a portal for information and news, which concern the Deaf Community in Israel.

In this event, I saw several faces, which I saw also in the commemoration event two evenings earlier in the Deaf Club in Holon.

The evening started with the obligatory speeches by representatives of the partners to the Web site. Some of them told us about some of their memories from working with Dr. Israel Sela. Others - about the ideology which promotes integration of deaf employees in workplaces.

Guy Saad, vice president of business development and Internet in Globes, told us about the following saying: “Someone, asking for something, may be silly for five minutes. But someone, who is not asking for anything, will be silly all his life.” This was in the context of the story about a deaf person, who was laid off, after holding a job for 18 years, and then searched 4 years for another job.

The evening did not consist only of obligatory speeches and presentation of the new Web site, but had also an academic part and an artistic part.

The academic part consisted of a lecture by Dr. Gilad Ravid from Ben-Gurion University about dealing with information overload by the individual and the community. Some figures from his lecture: the amount of saved information created each year by humans is about one hexabyte (1018 bytes), which is equivalent to about half a million times the information in the American Library of Congress. The amount of information created but not saved (phone conversations - voice and FAX, TV broadcasts, E-mail, etc.) is about three times larger than the above.

The per capita information is equivalent to a full CD-ROM per year per capita. A single weekend issue of Globes has information equivalent to all information, to which a 17th century man was exposed during lifetime.

During the last few years, there were few information provision developments in the Internet - Wikis and blogs. Information consumption technologies were developed as well - search engines, recommendation systems (such as Amazon), tags (such as del.icio.us). Another development was in balancing between pull-type information and push-type information.

The lecturer spoke also about research of the response of virtual communities to changes in information load - both downwards and upwards.

The artistic part of the evening consisted of two stories told by two Deaf storytellers, who rendered their stories in Sign Language.

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