3GSM, possibly the world's largest mobile-centric event, is in full swing these days, and announcements abound.
Unsurprisingly many of them orbit around mobilization of well-known web services, with video often playing the lion's share.
Mobile video fruition has long absorbed part of my processing power, so it's good to hear that one of the key enablers needed to shift it into 2.0 gear has come of age: Adobe announced that Flash Lite will be supporting video content.
One company that will surely benefit is YouTube, apparently busy making deals with most everyone - Nokia and Vodafone global a-listers in this space.
(A side note along these lines is that one of the new flat-rate mobile data plans coupled with a future enhancement of YouTube's QuickCapture will turn any camera-equipped mobile device into a platform for broadcasting people's lives. MyLifeBits anyone?).
As I recently noted elsewhere though what needs to change is the approach to the way video content is delivered and interacted with on networked mobile devices.
Currently there's no denying the apparent disinterest consumers have so far expressed for Mobile TV's current incarnations, or the many other recurring lamentations around the complexity of the overall experience usually offered by media-rich mobile entertainment.
But that's another story.
In the meantime let's just hail the rise of a new Information Ecosystem, and let's get ready to have our Second Lives in our pockets all the time.
Doesn't that sound like fun already?
Every Wednesday night, I teach a class in the Communication Design Department over at Pratt. One of the great joys of doing so (you may be surprised to hear) is the homework I get. Many of my students are illustrators, animators, and other types of people who can draw much better than me. Often, perhaps finding my assignments a bit boring, they take it upon themselves to produce creative and beautiful things that make me glad I teach. While sometimes nearly unrecognizable as what I assigned, the best ones are things I keep around and look at well after I have marked grades and largely forgotten what the other students made. Apart from making some nice desk decorations, it's also gotten me thinking about the permanence of the deliverables we give our clients.
Last semester, one of my weekly assignments was to create site maps for the small portfolio sites the students were building. When a student handed me the object below, I wasn't sure what to make of it at first. You will notice that it bears very little resemblance to any kind of OmniGraffle or Visio document. If you look closely, you can see however that it is actually a kind of site map: each panel is a different area of the site with a pretty clear breakdown of what is on it. The backgrounds, behind the vellum, are collages of what each section contains. I've had it on my desk since last semester and am proud to talk about how surprising my students are with anyone who asks about it.
I'm not sure it would ever fly as a client deliverable for a place like this, but even recently I saw how a well-made book we put together to augment a digital presentation managed to circulate around the client's offices and did a lot to keep messages and enthusiasm from the presentation alive. I have no doubt that the book will have a much longer run in the client's offices than any deck.
I have thus officially listed "inventing new deliverable formats" as one of my goals for work this year - maybe I'll start with an, um, accordion folder sitemap or something. Love to hear the kinds of things other people do in this area. And, to give credit where it is amply due - the map was made by the very talented Lisa Diehl - who is graduating this year.
I attended a de-brief session on this year's World Economic Forum (WEF), hosted by Swissnex, an annex of the Swiss consulate in San Francisco. The organization had invited three Davos veterans to discuss the "echoes" that reverberated from the five-day gathering of the world's (thought)Â leaders in the Swiss Alps.
"Complexity is a place one passes through while searching
a very crowded world of similar but different things.
It becomes simple when one can safely ignore the
differences and pick one. Complexity is a property
of the space of choices. Simplicity is a property of
the act of choosing. "-- Anonymous, from a Developer Mailing List
My latest training title is now available over at Lynda.com. It is called Expression Blend Beta Preview and it covers all of the basics of using Blend to create WPF applications. At the end you put what you've learned to the test by creating a Flickr photo viewer. Go on over and check it out!
I was recently interviewed over at the FlashDen where they asked me various questions relating not only to Flash, but also WPF. Go on over and check it out!
At frog's Palo Alto headquarters we have a collection of early Macs and concept models that never made it to production, from the years where we worked with Apple in the early/mid-80's. It's pretty cool to look at. However, it is truly dwarfed in terms of quantity by this collection (follow link to see more, a lot more, more than you think reasonably possible)
Three big things in the last few days:
- Steve Jobs urges music companies to drop DRM. Good. (read)
Wowâ¦you gotta love this. In a sort-of-blog-post âhot newsâ rebuttal to accusations that Apple would lock consumers into its iTunes system (as recently reiterated by a column in the New York Times), Steve Jobs himself defends Appleâs FairPlay DRM solution while at the same time calling on the major record companies â Universal, EMI, Sony BMG, and Warner â to do what many indie-labels already do: license their music to online stores without any DRM-requirements.
I have always been fascinated with ESPN.com. As a lover of sport, it is my de-facto source for information. As an interested observer of web-design principles, it is nearly always a place to look for examples of how a gigantic internet presence is attempting to solve the problems we all face. Some of the decisions made are absolutely questionable, decisions like auto-playing video content on the homepage, but some can offer valuable insights.
It seems that every few months the little corner of the blogosphere inhabited by professional web designers/developers blows up discussing the issue of acceptable resolution sizes. At this point, the defacto standard seems to be 800x600 but many are lobbying and many more are simply designing for 1024x768. I'm not here to weigh in on that battle, but rather to point out how ESPN has decided to parse out their precious 800x600 pixels. Their design is optimized for a wider resolution, but their grid puts their primary content within an 800px boundary.
Take a quick look at this screencap:
For most, it has been generally accepted that there is no such thing as a fold in the web. Vertical scrolling has been accepted and should not be looked upon in agony. There is something to be said, however, for making a first impression with your available vertical space. ESPN is using their space for two things: advertisements and brand.
Neither of these things are particularly user-centric. The availability of the navigation is nice, but the content doesn't begin for 235px, which is increased to approximately 335px if you include the users' browser chrome, or more than halfway down the page. I have a friend who used to art direct for ESPN.com and he indicated they received a lot of griping about the number of ads on their site. His response was to remind them that the majority of the content was FREE and they were easily the largest sports site in town.
If the intention is to grab a user's attention when they come to a site and compel them to stay, I'm not sure ads and brand is the best approach. ESPNs brand is fairly well known already and flashing ad banners is no way to retain visitors (even though in this screencap they are promoting internal initiatives, these spaces have been used for external products).
But I don't work there and don't have to live with the harsh realities of life at ESPN.com. I simply find it interesting to observe that they have used what seems to be their most valuable real-estate for two elements that would seem more at home in print or other forms of media.