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.


  1. Brrrr, kids, really scary, as Count Floyd used to say. Vemos [I´d link, but I´m on a ridiculously slow terminal] sez that the new version is mostly standards-compliant, but I´m not sure that I´ll ever forgive Macromedia for taking EIGHT FECKIN´ YEARS to bother with standards.

    Plus every manager at Macromedia I´ve ever known was a raging fuckwit.

    Sorry not to be supportive. I´m glad you´re having fun, but I´m scarred from years of 1)living two blocks from the Macromedia World Headquarters, 2) having dozens of friends spit out from the Macromedia system as drained and gutted shades of their former selves, and 3) having computers barf and/or flame out when slapped with crap-ass Flash code.

    But I really am happy you´re having fun! And if I have any Flash questions, I´ll know whom to ask (who won´t go pale and have convulsions).

  2. a) Every manager at Macromedia may well have been a raging fuckwit, which would explain, in no small part, why they just got bought out by Adobe.

    b) Yeah, the notion of standards-compliance only seems to have occurred to anybody super-late in the game. But again — it’s not about the execution. It’s about the possibilities.

    c) Don’t rain on my parade, man.

  3. a) “Two nightmare companies that can now make terrible products together” — Special K

    b) I understand completely and look forward to seeing what you do.

    c) You of all people should recognize the difference between raining on your parade and pissing on my own feet.

  4. a) its really eerie how many of my friends have written books on flash or are on the lecture circuit. i wish i could have stomached it for a little longer — some of them are living nicely off of royalties right now

    b) people are generally positive about the merger — adobe has been focusing mainly on print , while macromedia has been on the web. adobe programs don’t crash, macromedia programs do.

    the only issue that people get iffy about is the likely ‘end-of-the-line’ for two programs:

    macromedia’s fireworks – which was a direct competitor of imageready and ‘lite photoshop’ for the budget consumer

    macromedia’s freehand – which had a HUGE following among vector illustrators for having a completely different user-interface than adobe illustrator , and one that many people preferred (it was still #2, but with a big marketshare)

    I could care less about fireworks, but i’m going to really miss freehand

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