oh my… considering i’ve wasted my undergaduate degree from pomona on this stuff thus far, where can i begin?
(by the way, the turing word i had to type in is ‘against’ — how apporpriate)
photoshop just lets you manipulate images
illustrator lets you, for the most part, draw stuff
the extent to which you’d need to ‘learn’ either app is ‘how much of this can i arguably train a monkey to do?’ — unless you want to be incredibly artistic and learn painting or design first, these are very task-oriented applications
i hate flash, i despise it, but it paid off most of my college loans. most of my friends have written books on it — depending on what you want to do with it, i can suggest a book
director is not dead, but it should be. a lot of people are dumbing down their director projects and using flash. others are using conventional programming languages. some really cool projects like processing.org have taken up the middleground area between flash and more advanced languages. max msp is more audio oriented, but there are ‘hooks’ into using graphics.
as to which languages, i say this: php is for dummies. you can do a lot with it, it has everything and the kitchen sink, but it is poorly designed and has no standards — so learning programming through it can be an issue.
for text processing and manipulating perl (perl.org) is the way to go. perl also separates different types of data structures with markers ( $string_of_characters _or_number , @ordered_array , %indexed_hash_or_dictionary )
i find programming in python (python.org) to be the fastest to write and easiest to look at. it’s also one of the fastest interpreted languages.
i’m not even going to bother getting into compiled languages.
my suggestion would be this: pick up a ‘php for morons’ book. read it, don’t think about it, get familiar with the concepts. then spend some time with perl — you can slice and dice text with it (it can do anything, really, but is so good for text) and really get to explore or quantify whatever texts you want with it.
then, i’d look at python, which is clean and simple, and very good for integrating multimedia work.
of course, there’s also learning that imovie/final cut, which is indispensible
things to look at:
mit’s media lab
nyu’s itp program
people to look for:
casey reas (ex mit)
golan levin (ex mit)
i could probably make an exhaustive list of people places and projects if you’d like.