I’m going to be giving a workshop in Pittsburgh. The topic? No Flash? No problem. How to build an experience for all types of users (human or otherwise).
There’s a long list of common complaints about the use of Flash, but many of the criticisms just aren’t true. Detractors say that Flash isn’t search engine friendly; Screen readers can’t understand Flash content; You can’t deeplink to specific pages…
You know what? They’re wrong. These criticisms are symptoms of misunderstanding by developers on the ways different technologies work together.
The goal is to feel comfortable making decisions about when and how to use Flash appropriately and to gracefully degrade immersive experiences for Flash disabled devices (like iPhones and iPads).
For more info click here!May 25th, 2010
I just bumped into this TED talk and felt it relevant to my blog. Mr. Meyer is right on point here. Learning is so often associated with boring. Any student can be interested in any topic if a teacher engages them correctly. Programming teachers can learn a lot from this concept. Keep your students on their toes. Inspire them and the class will teach itself.April 29th, 2010
Feel free to read Steve Job’s post here before reading mine.
While there many points that are valid in Mr Job’s post, I find his views misleading and disappointing. I’ve felt it important enough to start an entire blog with a mission statement around this topic and feel addressing these issues appropriately is valuable.
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I’m a taxonomy hawk. I’m a really big believer of the notion that time spent on straightening out confusing terminology is time wasted. As my thoughts have gone to the ageless debate between Flash and HTML, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of the issue of the debate is that we have two groups of people that aren’t doing the same thing, attempting to say each other is doing it wrong. We need a better definition than Flash camp and HTML camp, because that’s inaccurate.
The issue is that it seems the vast majority of the industry is confused about this simple principle. And I believe this stems from the fact that we’re confused about what we do and who we are.
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In my wildest dreams I never imagined teaching as part of my career path. Seeing my goofy face on the Parsons’ faculty page is one of the great thrills of my career. I’ve been teaching about two years now. I teach Databases, which introduces the concept of saving data to design students just becoming accustomed to the world of programming and Dynamic Interfaces, which is mostly a discussion-led class about what makes good user experience and why, with a little bit of technique sprinkled in.
You’ll note that in the above descriptions I didn’t mention a specific programming language being taught. The problem with teaching students specific programming languages or platforms is that they’re tied to them forever. They don’t want to learn Java because PHP is good enough. They don’t want to learn how to fix browser issues in IE6 because they were trained that Flash did that for them. And yet, they need some sort of chops — design, development or otherwise in order to make it in the real world.
So how’s a student learn in these things? What should they learn? Is Photoshop a valuable skill… or is understanding typography? How far do you go teaching a trade before all you’ve taught them is how to survive right now?
In fact, is Photoshop even a trade skill? We write down that we’re developers, creative programmers, art directors, user experience specialists, information architects and designers. We say we’ve got specific expertise in digital. It seems that that’s just it — our trade is digital. And if that’s so, what are the learnable skills to that trade? The software we use, the concepts around why we use them or something else? That’s a tough question to answer and thus makes teaching harder still.
I got my BFA from the University of the Arts in Multimedia. That term seems to be the most relevant in not just what students learn, but how they’re taught. We can draw from the techniques of liberal arts, fine arts, technical schools and culinary institutions in finding the right way to engage students. At some point their own style and drive will take them where they want to go. As educators, we need to put them in a position to learn how to learn. This starts by helping them figure out how to figure things out… and then challenging them to push themselves creatively.
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March 30th, 2010
Looks like I picked a good day to launch my blog. TechCrunch posted this story about Google and Adobe working together to create a new plugin environment and a better overall experience for users to consume Flash content. The idea is that Flash will come packaged with Chrome and sort of wired in a little closer to the browser architecture, allowing Flash to run faster [in theory] and users to immediately get new versions of the player as they download updates to the browser.
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Whenever someone from Big Spaceship goes out to speak, they are quick to point out that we aren’t a Flash shop and that Flash is simply one of many possible deployment platforms for us. Dan Mall took that further by challenging the community at large to reconsider when it is and isn’t appropriate to use a specific technology. But Dan is an expert, right? He *knows* when to use Flash and when not to, and how. So how do YOU get to be that sort of expert? How does one really decide when to use the “appropriate” technology?
It’s a hard question to answer. It’s even harder to execute on whatever decision is made, which is why so many stay isolated in their favorite platforms. But the answer is in basics. I’ll explain through a story.March 28th, 2010
Up until recently I was content to stand on the sidelines and inspire myself to continue to grow as a developer. Encouraged by one of my former professors, I started to speak out against an issue that’s been grating against my brain for the past several years — the whole Flash vs. HTML debate. I realize I’m not the only one who feels strongly that the faction-like attitude fostered since the dot com bubble is alarming.