Sunday, May 28, 2006

Much stuff...

I don't generally write much about "Design" (with a capital "D") and Art in my blog - as it has always been information-focused, but this weekend has inspired me to temporarily expand my remit.

First, to the Tate Modern on Friday night for Walter Ruttman's 1927 silent opus, "Berlin, die Sinfonie der Grossstadt" (or "Berlin, Symphony of a great [sic] city" as it seems to be referred to in English) accompanied by DJ Spooky's electrifying mixing. The great thing about the immersive soundtrack from this New York DJ was that it emphasised the modernity of both Berlin in the twenties (my guess is that this was filmed before the period of hyperinflation) and of Ruttman's cutting - all plenty of jump-cuts and Eisenstein-like references to the animal nature of humankind (lions, polar bears, monkeys and fighting dogs in particular). If DJ Spooky is playing this again in your neck of the woods, then I suggest heading along...

On Thursday, I headed to the Framfab offices (formerly "Oyster") in Clerkenwell to hear perhaps the best presentation I've been too at the UK usability professionals association (UKUPA). The presentation was about the artefacts used in medical shift handover in a UK paediatric unit, and was fascinating.

Wednesday was spent at Adobe Live at Olympia - the Web presentation I attended was thoroughly disappointing although Hoss Gifford was entertainingly scatological. As ever the best thing about these events is the opportunity to ask questions about technologies - Adobe 3D, FLEX 2.0, and the ARP framework popped up for me(by the way, if Javier from Tequila is reading this, send me an email - I seem to have list your details!).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I've been busy over the past few months at work, and somehow have let the blog slip into a state of disrepair. I desperately need to change a whole bunch of design and functonality, but don't ever seem to have the time. I promise to sort the crud out soon... (that's a promise to myself, so I may not keep it!)

In my defence, I've been busy beavering away, including looking at standards-based design, frameworks and patterns (both UI patterns and programmmatic patterns) from an efficiency and future-proofing perspective, and I'm pretty surprised at the lack of overall coherency in the online field. Great work like microformats seems to have less of a wow factor than Ajax, even though it is - in my opinion - likely to be a longer-lasting "Web 2.0" (a pointless watchword that I don't like to use - and yes, I know, so is "Ajax", but at least it explains its purpose) effect. Maybe Bil Gates' recent comments may change this situation...

The web is starting to settle around XML-based structures such as XHTML, RDF, SPARQL etc. )or at least appears to be doing so), CSS is widening in its usage, and the bad-old boys of Flash and JavaScript are growing up (FLEX and DOM scripting) into better behavioural tiers in the n-tier web application field. But why is it that so much good work is still so distributed across a wide range of unrelated sites. I'd love Microsoft to port microformats to .net, to ensure Atlas is fully standards compliant, to put together a rapid series of patterns (a la Yahoo) to tie these into a rapid application development ennvironment (a la Ruby on Rails) - because the vast majority of websites are trying to achieve identical tasks in terms of user interaction and functionality and only differ in the design detail and the mix of base technologies being used: LAMP, coldfusion, JSP and Java, .net, Ruby, Python, Perl etc.

I don't think such wide-ranging platforms would dent creativity in any way - they'd just free information architects, systems architects, developers, usability experts and the like to focus their efforts on the problems that have yet to achieve a commonly-used, well-implemented, easy-to-maintain, efficient an usable solution. I think we're long overdue some more abstraction, and some rallying around a more coherent cause than the nebulous Web 2.0 (much as I love its connectivity sentiments).

Let's put some knowledge management into web development...and next time I promise to think before I start tapping away at the keyboard, as this post has turned out as messy as my blog is looking at present.

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