Monthly Archives: November 2009

Flash No More


Barbairan Group, Fantasy Interactive, Huge, Big Spaceship, R/GA and Organic all have non-flash sites.

Why isn’t Flash the best platform for an interactive agency to present their work? If you look around these days it seems that all of the leading interactive agencies (from my perspective in NYC) are switching over their Flash sites to rich-but-not-flash sites (AJAX, XHTML, etc.). I did it. A lot of my designer friends’ did it. But why? Have we, as rich-media/interactive/digital designers, fallen out of love with the once dominant platform? I kind of have, and I think my reasons are the same as the interactive powerhouses pictured above. It essentially boils down to the ability to tell and share your story.

With and all-Flash site you can certainly tell a story effectively. The level of interactivity and immersion draws the user into the experience like no other rich media platform. But doing so asks a lot of the user from a time perspective: transitions, load times, learning to interact with new paradigms, etc. Now with all of the open source javaScript tool-kits out there you can achieve a decent level of immersion and interactivity with little negative impact to the user from a time and learnability standpoint. So with an HMTL portfolio site you have most of the immersion with little or no negative impact. It’s a safer choice.

Because of the fragmented-by-design digital footprints we leave, aggregating posts, shouts, tweets, images and videos into one filtered and cohesive experience is extremely important to tell a story. It’s beneficial to share not only your experiences (as an agency/agency employee) but also to show the impact of your work (think CP+B). Flash does not do this well. If I want to fire off a quick news item or blog post highlighting a YouTube video of someone using a product I designed or a testimonial of customer-impact of a campaign I executed, I’d have to write that explicit use-case into the framework of the Flash portfolio site I’m executing. Not so with HTML – the web 2.0 APIs are already there by design. Therefore executing an agency’s portfolio site in HTML assures that no matter what new platform or API takes hold, snipptes, widgets, blogrolls and cross-links can always be sucked in.

I also think that how something is executed should tell a lot about what the thing is. It has to do with tone-of-voice as it relates the platform (not just the design). And with a Flash portfolio, seeing the load bar, the user’s first impression is to prepare for something. It’s loading. Wait for it. It’s gonna be dope. But portfolio sites should be simple and easily understandable. Your work should showcase all of the richness you claim to be able to deliver, the site need not be a portfolio piece in of itself. And while the user is waiting for the thing to animate and initialize itself, the user has to make a mental commitment to go on the ride that you’ve prepared for them. You’re asking something of them. Whereas an HTML site doesn’t carry with it that sense of commitment. I never thought I’d advocate this, especially considering the numerous Flash portfolios I’ve executed for myself over the years, but right now – where interactive is at – Flash is out.

Believe the HYPE


I think this is brilliant. Davis has really captured the frustration that I’ve felt with Flash as a platform for artistic and interactive experimentation:

Flash has matured incredibly in the past decade, but it has done so in a way that has blocked non-developers from even getting started. The simple fact of the matter is that with older versions of Flash you could learn the tool and how to program ActionScript almost entirely through creative play. With the latest iterations, unless you have a background in object-oriented programming, that method of learning by doing is simply not an option.

So they’ve set out to create a framework that sits atop the Flash IDE which allows for the artist to use a simplified set of commands to accomplish their goals.

I’m currently kicking the tires and will have some experiments posted shortly. Way to go Josh and Branden!

iPhone NFC Concept Video

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we all know is just around the corner when it comes to Near Field Communication. Especially in light of the talk I was fortunate to attend at Adobe Max. Given the following video, I think we’re about to think of things a little bit differently. Let me explain. Essentially we think of the world around us as static and the information we’re able to access about it as dynamic. So I can look things up on Wikipedia. Through GPS and the mobile web I can find things that are relevant to my physical location to help me navigate interact with the world around me in a meaningful way. Through Augmented Reality I can even alter my perception and overlay information to gain even deeper insights into the physical world. But what about using the world around me as an interface for the digital world? Enter NFC and the whole array of possibilities it brings to the table:

iPhone RFID: object-based media from timo on Vimeo.

Standing on a subway platform and want to know service alerts for the line you’re on? Tap your device on the platform sign. Installing a window and need to know instructions for your particular model? Tap your device on the frame. Same with any mechanical task really. Walking down a supermarket aisle and want to build a whole meal around one key ingredient? Tap your device… You get the point. NFC can really open a new door into our relationship between the physical and digital worlds and the kinds of emotional connections we form with them both. Can’t wait.


I first saw Robert Longo’s images on FFFFDOUND a few weeks ago and I’m hooked. What startled me about his YINGXIONG (HEROES), 2009 series was how engrossed I became in the beautiful death. I mean, this guy is about to kill you. He has a target lock on you right now with an AIM-120 and it’s all about to be over. Yet the levels of detail and beauty in the clouds, the lines that draw you eye into the distance make you forget about your impending doom. he image just takes you past the bad stuff and into whatever calm beauty lays just off into the distance. It’s a real great metaphor in a lot of relevant ways.


Generative Toy

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. A while ago I created a flash drawing program to generate color fields for an experimental branding exercise I was doing for Roundarch. I explored using different palettes of color to distinguish between core pillars/competencies within Roundarch. You can read and see more here.