More stuff from The Vacationeers

Flicking through a copy of .net magazine this weekend at a service station on the M4 revealed my smiling face peering back at me. For a minute, I couldn’t help thinking I was having an out of body experience; perhaps some Harry Potteresque moment where my soul had been captured in print, never to escape; maybe some fiendish teenager had put mirrors in all the periodicals to frustrate and annoy eager readers; or just my short article had been printed this issue. I purchased a copy in any case to do further tests. I hope for my own sake that my spiritual being is not trapped in ink and paper form.


An image of the Young Vic bar's exterior at night.

I was out with CG last night, and we were talking podcasts. I’ve recently become the vaguely proud owner of a new iPhone (in fact, we’re now a two iPhone house, as my wife has also just acquired one), and never really having an mp3 player in my pocket before (I’ve owned them, but always forget to take them out; being my phone however, i have to take it out), i’ve not listened to podcasts that much. Now, however, is a different case. I have lots and lots of time on my hands, and lots and lots of storage on my phone. So, we were discussing good sources. As if by internet magic, Laughing Squid also posted a video of one of the shows we talked about, featuring Ze Frank, The Sound of Young America. I’m hoping they’re not all visually hilarious, as radio isn’t a media for the mime, but its been duly added to my feedlist.

I’m also starting to plan a trip to San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to visit, mostly to see if it really is that hilly; possibly to stalk this guy; but mostly to go visit some interesting people.


I blogged this over at the Disposable Memory Project, but I think its neat idea, and I know the founders of the festival would love as much coverage as possible, so I’m reblogging with a bit more gusto this time. Eric Slatkin and Carlton Evans started the Disposable Film Festival in 2007 to celebrate the ‘artistic potential of disposable video':

“Everyone has become a Disposable Filmmaker: directors of Saturday night cell phone videos, actors under the eyes of security cameras, and narrators before their webcams. Let’s face it – we live in an age of disposable film. Now it’s time to do something creative with it.”

I couldn’t agree more, and I love it! This new world in which we live of such throw-away-able technology is truly awful – I can’t remember the last time i got something repaired over just buying a replacement, but the low cost of these devices (and increasing quality) also brings with it a generative side which is wonderful, and projects like the Disposable Film Festival bring the more talented homebrew film-makers to light. Being disposable and often low quality (in terms of their technical capability: grainy, blocky, jerky, poor zoom, poor focusing) often forces the producer to abandon all hope of making their work glossy and polished, and focus on the content and narrative. Whilst the ‘realness’ of the format has always given this sort of content a voyeuristic feel, which often seems to engender a certain type of story to be portrayed, increasingly talented people with nothing more than just a great idea or narrative they want to capture are doing just that. I think it helps bring forward the soul of the story. Surprise surprise, simplicity creates something special, yet again!

I went to listen to Clay Shirky yesterday afternoon, who very kindly signed my copy of ‘Here Comes Everybody‘ and I managed to have a brief chat with until Bill Thompson careered in and gave Shirky a bearhug. The majority of his discussions were over topics covered in the book, of how the cost (in pure economic terms) of creating groups or group activity has been so substantially lowered in recent years, that projects like this are bound to spring up. The rule for most is failure, perhaps only a half baked idea, or even just a great idea which doesn’t reach the audience it deserves, following a rough power law that only a tiny percentage of these generative and collaborative projects will succeed. Well, here’s hoping for success for the Disposable Film Festival, and any of its film-makers.

In other news, its the second week of my underemployableness. Last week was intentionally empty and devoid of activity. I took delivery of my new coffee machine (yom), played hours of XBox, watched all of the first season of Arrested Development, even went for a swim and ate copious amounts of food (in that order). This week, I shall mostly be doing ‘stuff’. I was planning on taking a trip to Brighton (ice-cream, The Werks, the beach, and I like being on trains) this morning, but the weather is looking a bit crappy. Oh, and my iPhone needs charging after only a day of use. Lame.

Google vs Flash

Adobe have announced today their partnership with Google and Yahoo in order to advance their ability to index flash websites. Everyone seems rather excited by the prospect, but I’m less so. Why? Well, I think its potentially a bad thing for people in my industry.

“If our flash is indexable, why create an HTML alternative?”

I can’t help thinking this question is going to be asked, and decisions based upon this will be made. Building an HTML alternative is not only for SEO, it is primarily for the sake of accessibility, and users who don’t have, or choose to have Flash installed. Many people often used SEO as the reason to create an accessible site. I never mind this approach, as at least we can build the HTML alternative. There are approaches to building flash using screen-reader technology, but nothing does the trick like some good ol’ semantic HTML in this case.

Not to mention, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Clients will read this tidbit of information from Google, and expect their flash site to suddenly appear at the top of Google. Wrong again – most enterprise or substantial sites are not built using static SWF files, but utilise on-demand loading of assets and database calls. These sites will not magically appear in Google’s index.

I’ve yet to see how this integration works, but what about precedence, level of importance and semantic data? Those who will automagically appear in the listings are those developers who built their content in static SWF – and are less likely to have marked up the content in any sensible format.

Who gains from this the most? I think Google, in being able to inspect the content of flash sites, rather than users who are looking for content rich flash sites, are the main beneficiary. I hope I’m pleasantly proved wrong.