Say “hello” to Personafy

Hi! This is just a quick note to say that I’ve launched a new project. It’s called Personafy, and it’s a place to share interesting links with your friends.

I’ll be posting a longer description about the site soon, but for now here’s a quick summary:

Whenever you find something interesting, you can post the link to your Personafy account, and you’ll also be able to choose a “persona” to share the link as. Each of your personas will be able to build up distinct audiences, so if you feel like posting LOL cats as one persona, and politics as another, you won’t have to worry about people unfollowing you or getting pissed off about the “off-topic” content.

Edit: Personafy is no more. It was a fun experiement, but I didn’t have the resources to keep it running for more than a few months. If you are interested in the topic of social sharing via personas, I wrote some thoughts on it here.

Flash is dead. Long live the internet.

When I was in high school I didn’t own a computer. I used to read the occasional Popular Mechanics magazine and would linger for a while on the articles about the internet or HTML, fascinated by this new technology that I had barely even used. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always been drawn toward computers, but more specifically, computers connected to other computers. Whether it was playing a video game online or browsing through the millions of websites, I could always spend hours every day in front of a computer soaking up information and experiences, interacting with people on the other side of the world.

Soon after I bought my first computer I started building simple websites. I had all of the best animated gifs you could find, along with those awesome water ripple java applets and whatever other bells and whistles I could find. It was awesome. I wanted to push the boundaries of this new thing. To make something unique that nobody had seen before. This led me to Macromedia Flash 4. My new hobby slowly taught me how to program, and over time I got pretty good at it. Eventually I landed in New York City and found a job at a tiny little web design shop, building websites for big corporations and loving every minute of it.

During this time the internet was recovering from the big crash at the end of the 90’s and as browsers slowly evolved, so were the websites we were building. But browsers were slow to update back then, so Flash filled a need to move faster and give us more options to explore and new technology to use (and abuse!). Around this time I wrote a little javascript utility to detect the presence of the Flash plugin and conditionally inject Flash into a website or not, and I watched as it grew over the years and became one of the most used utilities on the internet.

Flash was huge. Everyone wanted a flashy website and the only way to get one that any meaningful number of people could see was to use Flash. As browsers struggled to keep up, Flash charged ahead allowing us to build some truly amazing websites. Admittedly, there was some abuse of this technology, but we still charged ahead, trying to discover and build the next generation of user interfaces. Most older companies still thought of the internet as just another medium to advertise on. They wanted a flashy website to show off to their investors and clients and cared less about building something useful. The ubiquity of the Flash plugin made it an easy choice to build these new kinds of websites. We weren’t held back by the limitations of HTML any more, and that let us all explore wild ideas and try things that wouldn’t be possible with HTML or Javascript for years to come.

But now, years later, the browsers are catching up. Mobile devices are becoming more important than desktop computers (a trend I expect to continue for years to come). As more people use the internet in their day to day lives, businesses have realized that having a useful website is more powerful than just a flashy animated advertisement.

A few months ago I noticed that SWFObject usage on the top 10,000 websites was declining for the first time ever (I believe usage peaked in the summer of 2010). Last week, Adobe announced that they would halt development of Flash player for mobile devices, and refocus their efforts on HTML. Since this news was announced, I’ve seen many sad and nostalgic tweets from friends and colleagues. Some seem to be taking the news better than others, and it’s understandable that some people are sad to see Flash go. But it’s important to remember that no single technology is responsible for this awesome thing we call the internet.

This brings us back to my younger self sitting at home in Arizona playing with Flash and Photoshop, building new things. I’ve always loved making things, and I suspect many web developers feel the same. The pleasure of making something great is what drives us, not a specific technology. So don’t be too sad about Flash evolving, or even dying. Just keep making awesome things with whatever tools you have at your disposal.

Discuss this post here:

Flash on the Beach, Miami (CANCELED)

UPDATE: The Miami conference has been canceled due to lack of attendees. This is very sad news, but in an economy like this it’s not really surprising. Guess we’ll just have to wait for September for our dose of Flash on the Beach.

If you are still looking for a Flash/Design conference to attend this summer, I highly recommend Flashbelt.

The best European Flash conference is heading to the states this spring. Flash on the Beach has been happening in Brighton, UK for the last few years and is such a good time, I think everyone should go.

I’ll be heading down to Miami this year to talk about YouTube type things, so if you are curious about using YouTube for a project, or just interested in hearing some stories about a very high performance Flash application, you should come to my session :).

Flash on the Beach Miami

In case you are interested, there’s tons of pictures and writing about past FotB events all over the place. So check it out, and hopefully I’ll see you there.

Speaking at the Ajax Experience

I just found out the other day that the Ajax Experience has invited me to come talk about Flash to a bunch of Ajax nerds this July. This should be a really fun one (no, really!). My talk will be on how to use Flash *with* that fancy Ajax app you are building, so enhance it and give it that little extra kick. Think of it as an introduction to using Flash happily with Ajax techniques.

It’s got a fantastic lineup if you are into the whole Ajax thing, so I definitely suggest checking it out.

Check out my session outline for more info.

Also: Flashbelt is only 2 weeks away! It’s JUNE already. Time to hit the upper midwest and talk Flash with all the cool Flash nerds again. If you haven’t looked at Flashbelt and are itching for a conference, this will be a nice one to check out.

UPDATE: Apparently, there’s only 50 tickets left for Flashbelt, so get your tickets now if you are planning on going!