Archive for the ‘ rants ’ Category

Adobe Flash, an identity crisis?

See, this is what you get when you have too much time on your hands 😉

I had the honour of attending an absolutely fantastic dinner last week hosted by Robin from Adobe to get feedback on how Flash is doing and how it can be best used by UK digital agencies. Attending were a bunch of well known industry miscreants from Lightmaker, Kerb, Hi-Res, Lbi, Underwired, Us two & Iris Digital plus my unemployed self.

It was a great opportunity to think and discuss the role of Flash in 2010 and I thought I’d share!

Disclosure: 1) I use a Mac and 2) I installed click2flash some time ago and my laptop battery has thanked me for it.

There has been much discussion about Flash in recent weeks around Apple & Adobe’s relationship – I’m not terribly interested in that, to be honest it’s more about dollars and cents than providing a better user experience, so I’m not going to add to the muck slinging.

As I see it and what I find interesting is that Flash is entering a stage of it’s development that isn’t dissimilar to where Director was a decade ago.

Whilst the technology is mature and well adopted it’s not clear exactly what its purpose is anymore. Lets think about what it currently is used for:

In Browser

Banners / Overlays – Face it, folk hate overlays and their effectiveness is plummeting plus ad blocking is now common place so that’s not a future.

Flash Sites – It’s been a very very long time since a client turned round to me and requested a big bloated multimedia experience – which is where Flash excelled. In fact in the last year I’ve had more clients express a preference as say that they didn’t want flash on the site which tells you something.

Flash Navigation – Accessibility and common sense did away with that, not going to miss it.

Flash Components on Sites – yep, they are everywhere but the vast majority of them (at least the sites I look at) are simply glorified news tickers which could be quickly and easily implemented is HTML these days

Flash Video – There were no alternatives, but now there are just look at Vimeo & youtube. Realistically video playback should be have been browser native for the last few years anyway.

Games – Ah – well here we go – there isn’t anything (with the exception of Silverlight) that allows you to make (certain types of) games well in browser – definitely scope there if you are into that kind of thing. Casual & Social gaming is peaking right now and Flash is a great tool for these kinds of things.

On Mobile (in Browser)

See above. The launch of 10.1 is nice if you want that ‘rich’ mobile experience but I’m happy with the stripped down gimme-the-fact’s and get rid of the bling efficiency that’s required when wandering down the street.

On Mobile (Applications)

Definitely something in this, whether it’s “Appstore” or the newly announced multi-provider “NotAppStoreHonest” there is no getting away from the fact that having a solid and familiar development environment to develop mobile applications is extremely compelling. I’m both excited and scared to see what the mobile output from CS5 is likely to be. Unfortunately, and this has absolutely nothing to do with Flash, the problem with Apps in general is the rapid commoditisation of the whole sector and general inability to find good ones.

Desktop Applications

As with mobile apps, Air apparently (not a developer) allows reasonably quick and painless cross platform development – at least for certain types of Apps.

Console (Browser)

The implementation of flash at the moment on all three platforms is a few steps behind the current ones I’m sure that’ll be addressed at some point but if you look back at the first point, all the same things apply plus you’ve got the 10 foot view to consider, not least it’s a pain in the arse navigating a flash site (or any sites for the most part) on a console

Console (Games)

Not applicable. Eh? So you can’t just simply port your lovely little casual game to Wiiware, XBLA or PSN? Missed opportunity or what – casual gaming is all the rage right now, surely you would want to continue the experience from playing at work to playing at home?

Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that Flash has reached a cross roads, it’s been all things to all people for a good decade. I have this feeling that Adobe should be focusing on where the strengths of the platform lie and what contexts are most appropriate. Is it a browser plugin or an app development environment?

Simply put what is Flash for these days?

Hence the identity crisis: I’m sure there are a few of you out there who have an opinion, bring it 😉

j

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Brief update

Wow is been a busy and inspiring couple of weeks, you contact a thousand people and sure enough quite a few respond.

Consulting: Have been approached by three different organisations so far interested in getting me in for various extremely interesting short term projects – nothing signed off yet but a very good start – basically the more I can consult the longer I can take to ‘work things out’.

Film: Working on a couple of initial treatments for feature films with Stuart Barr & Marc Hawker, one genre (which seems to be turning into a sci-fi, horror, comedy), one a bit more ‘grown up’ family drama. Very early days.

‘New Business Idea’: Lots of people interested in ‘playing’, working on defining it, structures, funding, organisational stuff – more on this very soon. If anybody out there knows a ‘friendly’ intellectual property lawyer  for whom I can buy lunch in exchange for a bit of advice please let me know.

New Digital Marketing Agency: Basically from the conversations I’ve had I could start a full service digital agency tomorrow and probably have a few new clients to inaugurate it. However, this can easily be rolled up into the ‘New Business Idea’ so it’s going on the back burner for a couple of weeks. However given that I’m potentially looking at the cluster model – i.e. decentralised, lots of partners and skill sets – am interested in hearing from anybody who might want to play, especially in ‘traditional creative concepting’, search &  media.

Music: Not a lot of activity yet, but have a few meetings set up in the next few weeks – and no I am not even remotely thinking about setting up a ‘label’ but there is an awful lot of other things in that space which are fun.

Job: Had my first job interview EVER. Wasn’t even for a specific one but seemed to go well – potentially two or three things they’ve got in mind – which I hate to say were actually quite interesting.

Dot Com: Couple of ideas kicking around, been a bit slow due to wanting to folk not being around but am sure will pick up momentum over the coming weeks.

Non-Execs: Having a few meetings this week – next week, more soon.

Games: Got a couple of folk in mind to have a bit of a brainstorm with but they are being a bit elusive – will nab him next week bwhahaha

Write a book: Err too busy right now to even write the blog so … pause.

Change Location: Realistically not likely to happen in the short term so might as well just pause it. Having said that lots of interest from Edinburgh & SF 😉

Party: Having a ‘Life After Lateral’ party Tuesday 2nd March @ The Strongrooms in Shoreditch – looking to be much fun with the Lateral family new and old, near and far – if you didn’t get an invite and want to come sign up here (need to know the broad numbers):

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?invites&eid=338182684664

I just want to thank everyone who is participating in this little experiment, your words and support continue to absolutely blow me away.

j

Analog to digital conversion

Over the last week I’ve met a bunch of folk from a variety of disciplines and industries – it’s been quite mind expanding. One of the recurring themes / questions has been “how do I transition or re-position my analog business into a digital one”

I just thought I’d share a few observations and thoughts on the subject but with full disclosure that I am not a Harvard MBA, nor do I write self-help books (yet ). I just tell it as I see it.

Fear

Fear  a.k.a ‘blind panic’ triggers the old fight or flight mechanisms. This can lead to change for changes sake which tend to be accompanied by profound errors in judgment. Fear is a great motivator but often its simply the mind killer.

Blind panic

The emphasis is on blind. This can manifest as the inability to see the opportunities staring you in the face or to appreciate the inherent value of the assets surrounding you. Your typical social media strategist will bend your ear on the value of listening and making sense of the noise. This is good advice, however it’s one dimensional, taking this time to look at yourself, your organization, means looking beyond your peers but to those who are achieving success in other spaces, not just the obvious ones. If you just listen you’ll just hear what you want to hear – by looking and understanding you’ll hopefully see the big picture.

Fight

If you are blind it is really kind of difficult to work out who exactly you are supposed to be fighting. Often you simply end up lashing out at whoever is closest unaware of the dude with the sniper rifle a couple of miles away.

A friend of mine once told me to “fight the fights worth fighting for”  – words which have been incredibly useful over the years.  I never knew the origins of the phrase till recently.

“The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing – for the sheer fun and joy of it – to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.”

I.F. Stone

Sums up the last fifteen years pretty well, certainly in interesting take on “Fail Forward Fast”.

Flight – A surprisingly common story.

We’ve spotted an iceberg! Abandon ship! Man the lifeboats, before the ship can sink.  Run away from everything you have, everything you have built, all that knowledge and expertise is obsolete now. We must turn our back on our history our legacy to be able to move forward! Don’t worry about freezing to death in the water. It’ll be fine.

To mix metaphors even further, tearing down the house before you know what’s going to replace it is generally a bad move.

Change

Change is good, but doesn’t always have to be revolutionary, evolution gave us opposable thumbs and how useful are they when tapping away on your iphone. Change can come in many forms.

Change can be as simple as a change of words. Why use the word ‘digital’ at all? If you remove ‘digital’ from the equation you remove the barriers. In Adland you don’t have an outdoor creative director working with a print ad creative director being managed by the tv creative director.

Face it if you wanted to have a ‘dialogue’ with your customers would you call in the ‘digital dialogue dude’ or someone who was good at having a conversation?

Separate the thought from the channel and your options expand to encompass them all or in other words “free your mind and your assets will follow”

Don’t be afraid to try this at home.

j

An end and a beginning

As you might know I have now left Tangent / Lateral, and therefore am concluding a story that started almost 15 years ago. What word do you use to sum up 15 years? I’ve racked my brain and consulted the thesaurus and only one word seems to fit.

Family.

Family is a powerful thing. They help each other, support each other, fight but then make up, offer advice and provide the shoulder to cry on, they inspire, they build, and hopefully together they succeed. They make mistakes but in time are forgiven. They don’t do each other favours, they simply ‘do’.

It is often said that you don’t choose your family, usually in the negative, but the execution of this is simply not true – we choose all the time, whether to engage, whether to help, whether to call –  the relationships which we choose are the hardest to break even if the frequency of contact is limited. I see this as the most wonderful thing.

I may only have been a biological father for the last couple of years and I definitely don’t speak to the rest of my biological family enough –  but for  the last 15 years I’ve been  a dad, a brother, an uncle and even occasionally a mom. I believe I am one of the most fortunate people alive because I have not one but two families.

I have no idea what the future holds, what I am going to do, where I am going to go, but what I do know is that my family, both new and old will be there to help.

Jon Bains

Family Man

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