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Instant Gratification

This has been a quiet week, hereabouts, in no small part because I spent the first four days of it taking the first of the classes I hope to take this summer. By the end of an intensive day sitting six inches away from an aged, flickering CRT, I had precious little desire to spend any further time online. I did, however, spend Wednesday night virtually online, in an actual meetup with a substantive percentage of the cast and crew of the wordherders. I’d met several of the ‘herders before, at various conferences, and it was great to catch up with them, as well as getting to put faces with names and f2f personalities with online ones for the other folks present.

The bulk of the week, though, was spent in class — two days of Photoshop, and two days of Flash. And I know I’m not supposed to say this. It’s seriously uncool among the geeky set. But I cannot refrain: I love Flash.

Here I’ll begin with the caveats: not for what’s been done with it. But for what could be done with it. Most of the instances (a little Flash-class humor here (okay, a very little)) of Flash on the web are simply annoying. But that was true of most early HTML, too, which served to prove the rule that simply because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. But Flash opens a pretty remarkable set of possibilities for the fluid movement of text and images, and makes such movement remarkably easy.

If I’m going to be honest, though, the thing that’s best about learning Flash is its instant-gratification capabilities. Again, when I was first learning HTML, it was much the same: Think, “I wonder what would happen if I did this”; open and edit source; reload page; see result. In a world in which publishing had previously taken weeks, at minimum, to see results, this was breathtaking — I make a change, and the world (or at least the page) is changed. The changes, admittedly, were small. But they seemed to mean something.

Flash does the same, in a dramatic fashion. I think, “I want this to move over there.” I tell the program so. It does. Trust me, I know that that’s how computers work. But there’s something endlessly entertaining about that to me.

Perhaps it’s just the change from the amorphousness of writing scholarship, in which the ideas never behave quite the way that I intend them to, in which there is no explicit syntax that will produce expected results. But I’m quite in love at the moment, unacceptable (and possibly fleeting) though my object may be.


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