my designer went to Flashbelt and all she brought back for me was…

on

…this photo of foam on the river, shot from the pedestrian bridge at the U.

Seriously, however: Flashbelt was once again chiefly an inspiration. The session topics I chose were rather polarized, with not a whole lot of notable presentations in between widely experimental digitally-initiated and Adobe stumping for its new creative suite. I’m not sure if this observation just illustrates something about me or about Flashbelt, but, well, there you have it.

Experimental Juju:
Jeremy Thorp‘s “The Pixel Economy” presentation. Be sure to check out his Plumage project. The Variance one is good as well. Joshua Davis is one animated speaker. To illustrate his thoughts on the true organic, and ecstatic, nature of improvisation, he opened up the session by playing this most excellent video of a Stevie Wonder drum solo. You can check out his Dynamic Abstraction experiments here. I was sad to discover that, while I did get to see a little of his work at the Cooper-Hewitt a few weeks ago, he has a new and sure-to-be excellent show in Brooklyn, right now. Dude likes flowers. And fabrics with flowers. Love it.
I felt like I needed more coffee (like, three depth charges) in order to keep up with Paul Ortchanian, but he presented an impressive series of math-driven visual experiments, all of which can be found somewhere on his site. My conclusion from these presentations: the path to flash enlightenment and fulfillment is right there in front of me, but I will need to forgo some sleep (and other healthful habits as well) in order to gain ground.

Adobe Is God King Of This My Digital World:
Step Inside The Creative Mind. Flash CS3 has some excellent features & I can’t wait to try them out. Also, I can do video with Flash (some great tips were provided by Lisa Larson). Some great examples: neave.tv and Caveman’s Crib. For sample video clips to get started, I can go to the Prelinger Archives.

One of the few middle-ground sessions I attended was the Flash Accessibility (see blog here) Dinner with Adobe’s Bob Regan, and it was most informative and enjoyable. Some things I learned: Blindness/some degree of visual disability is not the most common form of disability, but it does have the most effective lobby (and for that reason, it is the main focus of designers concerned with accessibility).
The most common form of disability is cognitive disability-and it is the one disability whose troubles are not solved by using plain text in internet applications.
The best tool a designer can use to improve the accessibility of her work is to get into the habit of testing her work with a screen reader utility. DAILY. TWICE.
Some key concepts for Flash Design for Accessibility: Label, Role, State, and Structure. Be thoughtful and thorough. Other links: Adobe’s Accessibility Resource page.

Also, David Lowe-Rogstad presented some excellent cases for user-driven online experiences, advising designers to build prototypes, listen to user feedback, and work with it. Topic is well-blogged about here. Examples included Nike’s JoinBode.com site (taken down but reviewed nastily here). Here’s a book to read.

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