Archive for the ‘Article’ Category

Dan Zen on Consumption and Creation.

March 8, 2016

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It’s A Consumer’s World

We have seen a difficult trend for independent interactive content creators: Fifteen years ago content creators were paid for creating content. Ten years ago creators were downgraded to receiving advertising money. Five years ago creators had to pay to have their content shown. Today, content creators have to pay consumers to partake in their content.

This, of course, is a generalization, but in the digital world the contemporary consumer seems to get what they want at very little cost.  They now assume that music, entertainment and information should be (and there are often ways to get it) free. This however makes it tough for creators of original content to make a living and to optimally produce content.

For instance, my own site http://danzen.com has 3 million page views. At a minute a view this is 50,000 hours of entertainment.  And yet, from dozens of different attempts at monetizing, the site has made about $500. That is a payoff of one cent an hour.

The concern, however, is not just the money — interactive content creators are often happy if people simply use their tools or experience their environments.  A far greater concern is that people are partaking less and less in independent interactive content.  “Interactivity” can be broken down into types and when referring to interactive content I mean interactivity beyond just navigation to where people can create and communicate with one another.

People today are spending increasing amounts of their time on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Here, they share pictures, stories and videos that comprise authoritative content, but they rarely share interactive content or take the time to go out and engage in interactive experiences.  We can deduce that the attention span of people online has been greatly reduced.  They write and read in 140 characters. The status post is the new blog. They are no longer accustomed to spending time reading a story, let alone creating a story.

Alongside social media usage, people are increasingly partaking in online gaming.  For the most part, gaming is consumption of thrill and is not really creation.  Puzzles have the mindset of creation and they hone the mind of the user but the output does not benefit society.  Creation via programming also hones the mind, and has the added benefit that the output usually helps society: it educates or entertains and can provide environments to communicate or organize.

On a positive note, today there is more creative practice executed in a day than in all of history up to 1950.  Millions of songs, art pieces, stories and the like are being made on a daily basis. Proportionally, though, I think less people create. This is probably because there is just so much to consume and to consume is so much easier. Also, creative renaissances come and go, just like any other trend. Those trends may also differ in different regions.  I would not say that in North America it is currently “popular” to create although the Maker movement is gaining traction.

Creation and Mobility

A recent factor in the creation versus consumption balance has been the onset of mobile devices.  Smaller mobile screens and somewhat reduced controls can limit creative production.  For instance, graphic designers use many panels in an application such as Photoshop and require precise selections that would be hard to achieve on a mobile device. Even if the interfaces improve, there is often distraction when being mobile, especially in busy areas, and so surely this is not the correct platform for true creativity. Even so, workstations, the ideal site for focused creativity, are being abandoned for mobile devices.

[There are of course new ways to create using mobile – and we can improve on some of the old ways!]

Naming Interactivity

People gravitate towards things they are comfortable with. The Internet is a new medium – even more so a medium of mediums – and yet the majority just use it to consume articles, listen to music, view pictures, watch videos and play games. These mediums are easily recognized with single established names and the user has clear expectations before partaking.

We do not have a name for a digital interactive feature. We may call it a tool or an application, but this is far from suiting all interactive features.  Could we call it an environment or medium instead?  Perhaps, but these categories seem a bit broad. If we had a specific made-up name for an interactive piece, project or feature then perhaps there would be more support for sharing and partaking in it because people will instantly understand what is offered. For instance, Neal Stephenson in The Diamond Age calls them “Ractives”.

Interactivity and Personal Growth

From a personal growth standpoint, we have been led by accountability concerns towards only being our “legal” self.  The opportunity to explore personas to interact with abandon has been greatly reduced and marginalized.  For instance, we are required by policy to be only ourselves on social media sites such as Facebook – any other personas are removed or at least viewed with suspicion. This is a shame.  There needs to be more opportunity to interact with imagination and passion – not just in second life or dating sites but in our average every day life. A site such as http://hipcats.com, allows you create personas and interact with others , making it possible to explore new ways of thinking and acting which may actually lead  to real life transformation.

Slowing Down in Conclusion

It would be great if people slowed down a little and spent more time thinking and creating. The Internet is a wonderful medium to favour creative collaboration.  Perhaps exploring fresh personas would give people a better ambiance for creation and help tip the world back to a healthy balance.  If your character is an artist or inventor, then you might realize — hey… I can be an artist or inventor! Creative writing can often lead to self-transformation and even invention.

I suspect that I am preaching to the converted. If you feel the same way and want your friends to know, please share the article!

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Interactive Media – Digido

October 31, 2014

I have been making digital interactive media works for almost twenty years now.  I have a museum of approximately one hundred works at http://danzen.com.  There is a problem.  I do not know what to call them and I do not know what to call me, the maker.  This matters as it hampers our advancement in culture.

Unlike other creations like Songs, Videos, Sculptures, Paintings, Photographs, etc. we have no name.  We are stuck with generic names for what we make – projects, features, works.  These describe many types of creations.

Unlike other creators like Musicians, Videogrophers, Sculptors, Painters, Photographers, etc. we have no title.  We are perhaps Developers, Designers, Producers, Makers, Creators – but these are titles used in many fields.

I have struggled with this issue all my career and have attempted to come up with an answer a number of times.  You can see a poll that I put on Tapoll – a poll application where you predict the results as you vote:  http://www.tapoll.com/poll/id/413790478.  My recommendations at the time can be seen there – please take the poll.

WHAT DO WE MAKE?

We make digital interactive environments.  Firstly, we cannot just say interactive environments as our world is an interactive environment.  Digital, these days, means in the computer, so that is fine.  Things like songs and films have transcended analog and moved into the digital space – but are not interactive.  Some of the things we make have transcended as well such as games.  Games are an excellent example of digital interactive environments and certainly would be a subset of what we make.

Applications are also an excellent example of what we make.  An applications is software that lets people do things.  Traditionally we have had word processors, spreadsheets, paint programs, etc.  Applications are certainly digital interactive environments.  Social media, where people communicate through posting, sharing, rating, filtering is also a digital interactive environment and can also be thought of as a subset of applications.  Gadgets are small applications and we make those – Wavy – wave your mobile device and make sounds, etc.  Along the same lines, we make simulations where we recreate experiences in life often for educational or training purposes.

We also make art – which is neither games nor applications but for the most part, interactive experiences.  We have to be careful, because many experiences, are not interactive. Videos and Music would not be considered interactive works. You can experience art but it most art is not considered interactive however, there certainly is interactive art experiences and it is an exciting and thriving medium – installation art, etc. and we make that.

I do not consider an information site an interactive environment.  Navigation, in my mind, is the weakest form of interactivity and is already found in older media.  For instance, you navigate to what channel you want to watch or what book on the shelf and which page to read.  Please see my Interactivity Scale.

OPTIONS

Digital Interactive Experience is just too long.  What options do we have…

In our industry – the Interactive Media industry, it is common to have Interactive departments.  This is an indication that interactive is a good word to use.  We have even started to use the term as a noun – “have you seen the interactive?” but I would call this fairly rare – an indication that it is not quite the right word as it has had all the opportunity to catch on and has not.

The “inter” prefix of interactive is not terribly important.  Most people (even most people in our industry) see the inter part of interaction as being between the user and the computer. They completely forget the true or more powerful meaning behind inter.  They forget, that this can mean to interact with people – through the computer.

Act is the key word – whether alone or with others.  Activity would be an ideal name.  We make activities.  Unfortunately, that word has been taken by kindergarten teachers ;-).   Also… we would have to add that we make digital activities.  But you see how activity fits games, puzzles, applications and for the most part any art form where the user takes part and does something.  In the end… “digital activities” is probably not marketable.

In the sense that an activity is a noun (something to do) we could use interactivity as a noun in a similar way.  Therefore, we would make an interactivity.  You would play an interactivity or partake in an interactivity, etc.  I like that.  We can then be Interactivists.  It is a little tongue and cheek, though, with a play on an activist.  Maybe Interactivators ;-).  A problem is that interactivity is used most commonly as a qualifier of our product – it has interactivity.  It is also not a stand-alone, unique word for our work.  Think song, photograph, etc.

We do have the term media but this has been taken by… the media.  Media (plural) or a medium (singular) is a great word – it basically means the same as an environment.  It is something that sits between.  Hot, cold and medium – spiritual medium, etc.  In our case, a medium sits between the creator and the creation – like in art – clay, and paint, etc.  We are have a very special talent and task.  We make mediums.  For instance – the Flute is a medium – we would have made the flute.  We empower people to make content in our environments.  In my philosophy of Nodism I would say we make context in which others can make content.  Anyway – slightly digressing – back to it…

Along the lines of video and audio we could construct another such as actio, doeo, interactio etc.  I like doeo but it sounds quite silly – probably because of Dewey and our association with Huey, Dewey and Louie – or whatever.  Silly is not necessarily a bad thing – and I was using doeo for a while – but I just did not believe in it.

Neal Stephenson called them Ractives in Diamond Age with a plot of an interactive storybook.  Racitve is a really cool name and I would support that – it is the last part of interactives.  It sounds cool perhaps because of Raptors – it is unique – so… maybe.  It has potential.  We could then be Ractivators.

Experientials was a thought as for the last 5 years have been using the term “experiences” as what we build.  Again, many experiences are not interactive but rather authoritative – not user generated.  So, really, this is too broad a term – and it might need the term digital as well.  However, since it is a made up word, it might not need the digital qualifier.

Maybe someone who knows more Greek or Latin might come up with some good arrangements.

PROPOSAL

To really make this stick, I think we need a made up name or a “combo” name with roots or short classifiers.

DIGIDO is my current recommendation.  Digido is initially laughable – and undoubtedly you are at least smiling.  Smiling is not a bad thing.  If we really think about the words audio, movie and video we see that they too are quite cute.  People probably chuckled at the start as they did with iPod and iPad and now we are just fine.

I really like the word DO and so does Nike with its Just do it campaign.  Do means to act – to take part – to create – to build and make.  We make environments in which other people create, communicate and play.  They do things.  They do not just watch or consume – they do.  It is also nice and short.

DIGI – from digital or digits – like our fingers – I believe just means a distinction – like 01 – a jump rather than a blend and hence represents the way computers operate and we are making our environments with computers for computers – whether they be stationary or mobile – big or small – connected or not.  The Canadian New Media Awards, of which I have won two, have been renamed to the Digi Awards.  So that is a positive point in the digi direction ;-).

Digido sounds slightly like didgeridoo – an auspicious connection as a didgeridoo is one of the most basic of instruments.

One thing to consider is what this would be like as a field or industry.  What would it be like on job titles, etc.

Hologram – Holography – Holographer
Photograph – Photography – PhotographerSong – Music – Musician
Show – Television – Producer?  Team…
Movie – Film – Film Maker / Videographer
Digido – Interactive Media – Digidoist

CONCLUSION

Without a name, we are misunderstood.  It is slightly more difficult with our industry because we encompass different media – hence our traditional name, multimedia.  Unfortunately, with media being plural, multi was considered redundant.  The multimedia term is seen as old fashioned – sort of from the CD Rom days.  This has left us without a name and at best “interactive media”  which is like using “musical notes” every time we mean a song.  See what I mean?

Thoughts?

Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Zen Creative Technology Presentations

April 3, 2014

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DAN ZEN

Dan Zen is an Inventor who works with creative technology.  He is a futurist working with short stories to advance invention.  He uses philosophy as a creativity framework and gives talks, presentations and classes concerning creativity and advanced interface technologies.

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PRESENTATIONS

Dan Zen is very busy building however on occasion, he does talk at conferences, user-groups, workshops, schools and the like. Here are some examples of past engagements. Please contact door at danzen.com to discuss possibilities.

Commercial Creative Technology – Keynote at CreateInTO (CITO) – 2014

http://www.meetup.com/CreateInTO/

Commercial Creative Technology Diagram

Commercial Creative Technology Diagram

Some Creative Technology Icons

Commercial Creative Technology Icons – Dan Zen

Dan Zen Museum Launch – 2014

http://danzen.com/museum BlogPost and YouTube Video

Dan Zen Dances Psychedelic in the Clouds at the Extravaganza

Canadian New Media Award Winner Dan Zen on Dan Zen

DEMO CAMP DEMOS: DRONER, TILTY, KITTY TARTAN, TOUCHY, OPARTICA TUNNEL  – 2014, 2013, 2012

http://droner.mobi http://tilty.mobi http://kittytartan.com http://touchy.mobi http://opartica.com http://softwarehamilton.com

Mediated Reality: Past, Present, and Future – Function Keys Conference – 2012

http://danzen.com/mediatedreality

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Mobile Techniques: Making of Hipster – FITO – 2012

http://hipster.mobi/hipster/talk/

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Creativity and New Forms of Mobile Games – Keynote Hamilton DemoCamp – 2011

http://wp.me/p9ja-8Z

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CyberSpace Meets Social Change – TalkMedia at Art Gallery of Hamilton – 2010

http://danzen.com/intro [click the logo to toggle interface]

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Developing iPhone Applications – mDot Mobile Technology Group – 2010

Creating in WordPress – Toronto WordCamp Presenter – 2009

Inventing for the Web – EntMent Entrepreneur Group – 2009

FITO Educational Panel – 2008, 2011

Gesture Technology – FITO 2007

Zen Mix Vlogging Tool – Dorkbot Toronto 2006

ENDORSEMENTS

Dan Zen is unquestionably a gifted thinker. It is a pleasure to tell you that Dan Zen is also an extremely engaging speaker. He explains his complex, intriguing explorations with such clarity and unbridled enthusiasm that the audience can not help but be captivated; and it is obvious his listeners are of paramount importance to him. To that end, his talks are inclusive, making each audience member feel that they are a participant in the entertaining experience regardless of their level of knowledge about the given area. Equally enjoyable is witnessing his delight in sharing his thoughts with others and encouraging them to think, to be creative.

If there is an opportunity to have the incredibly inventive Dan Zen speak, or present, my recommendation is to seize it.

As the host of “In Conversation: TALK MEDIA” presented by The Factory: Hamilton Media Arts held November 19, 2010 at The Art Gallery of Hamilton, the above reference is written from personal experience.

Best regards,

Denise Dickie
Host, In Conversation: TALK MEDIA
Professor – Media & Entertainment Mohawk College
Former Media Relations Manager and Producer CHCH TV

AND

Dan Zen blows my mind! I am always intrigued and delighted by the expansion I feel when I engage in Dan’s ideas. His talk “Creativity and New Forms of Mobile Games” was brilliant. I learned things about creativity that I had never considered before and that is saying a lot since I have devoted my life work to creative expression!

When I first decided to attend Dan’s talk I worried that it would be too technical for me. I was relieved when he included interactive exercises to express his ideas in a way that made sense.

I would highly recommend a dose of Dan Zen to anyone who wants to expand their mind and open up to their creative potential.

Laura Hollick
Soul Artist and CEO
http://www.soulartstudio.com

Half Century Celebration and Dan Zen Museum Launch Red Carpet Extravaganza

March 24, 2014

Dan Zen Dances Psychedelic in the Clouds at the Extravaganza

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl280Rrn2do for the Dan Zen Museum Launch and 50th Birthday party. Here is a Video Table of Contents:

1. surreal-like introduction – well, why not – I am chronicling my past.
2. an upstairs section with the physical inventions
3. happy birthday and opening speech in Theatre
4. split screen with talk from theatre booth mixed with dancing
5. concluding theatre talk
6. Dan Zen museum Website promo

MISSING: interviews and parts of speeches and here and there.

Thanks to the Staircase and amazing staff, Catherine for much of the footage, Christine for the YesUmNo, Ada for the music, RoseAnne, Madeline, Elliot, David, Cheryl and all who helped move and put up with the moving (still ongoing).  Also, thanks all for the wonderful presents – I am just about to get thank-you messages out.  Thanks for all those who sent wishes but could not be there – the 100’th party will be a cape and sash theme.

A few clarifications, I say that I am the world’s number 1 psychedelic dancer according to Google – not the best psychedelic dancer – that credit goes to each and every person who dances psychedelically. And… the unfortunate new name of Interactive Multimedia is Interactive Multimedia Management (not Business) we are fighting it http://danzen.com/petition/imm.  Also… it was great to see the TRANSLATION TUBE being used – but… there was a stone in one end so that it balanced when sitting on the table – if we only took the stone out, the whispers would have been much much better.

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The Dan Zen Museum is up and running but some final tweaks and edits are still to do before it replaces the main Dan Zen interface.  The URL is http://danzen.com/museum and I still have 50-100 more stories to add to the stairs.  Thanks again to all who came out and sent wishes and made it one of the best nights of my life 😉

Supplemental links:

Facebook Event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/207807509414895/

Pictures by Todd:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danzen/sets/72157642442992504/

Staircase Theatre:
http://staircase.org

YouTube Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl280Rrn2do

Dan Zen Museum:
http://danzen.com/museum

Dan Zen Creativity Framework:
http://danzen.com/creativityframework

Dan Zen Facebook Page:
http://facebook.com/danzenpage

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The Chessmen – Garage Mod Band Hamilton, Canada 1989

July 15, 2013

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THE CHESSMEN

Op Art light shows, go-go girls, splotchy cravats, Vox amps, Rickenbackers and a mad mod following! The Chessmen were Hamilton’s garage band in the late 80’s playing original songs influenced by the Kinks, Who, Beatles and Stones to name some well known bands but also deeply routed in more obscure way-out sounds.

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The Chessmen – album 1989 13 original songs (ZAP)

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The Chessmen – Warren, Jamie, Dan, Mike, Rick


ALBUM

The Chessmen launched one self titled album on ZAP records in 1989. The sound was more thin than their live acts and shortly thereafter they went psychedelic with longer songs like Follow the Path, Floating Down the River and Garden of Earthly Pleasures. They disbanded still friends and did a few reunion shows like the Baron of Time show at Amigos in Hess Village. Time Machine and several other songs were featured on garage compilations from around the world: Time Machine Mr. Garager’s Neighbourhood

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The Chessmen – Rick, Dan, Mike and Randy


FORMATION

Rod Fuzzfiend (Rick Blythe) and Dan Zen had seen one another out at dance clubs in the 80s and started jamming together before Dan Zen went off to Europe for nine months to hang out with garage bands – the cool side of the indi-pop movement – squatted with My Bloody Valentine and went to Spacemen 3 gigs to see the mop-top opening bands like the Surrounds, Jamie Taylor Quartet and Aardvarks.

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LINEUP

Rick did back-up vocals and played Rickenbacker bass (being a Stranglers follower) with local legend, the late Randy Steele on Guitar, and Musicologist, Mike White on the skins. Dan Zen went CHANG CHANG on a solid body Rickenbacker, sang, and wrote the songs – what primitive lyrics – a little raw or adolescent for his standards now but certainly all about girls coming and going, smiling and dancing. He also did light shows and managed the band. Soon after forming, Warren Cavenagh took over Bass with his little hofneristic boingbinger. Rick moved to Guitar for a double Rickenbacker front line. This was the album line-up along with Jamie sessioning ards. There were also a number of gogo dancers – Glynnis, Erin, RA, Angie, Melanie, Sue, and so forth.

SHOWS

Op Hops were the main gigs – dances put on by Dan with posters and light shows, etc. Mods would scooter from Brantford and Toronto to Hamilton locations like the Terra Nova Theatre on Dundurn (where the Taco Bell was put and then kaput), Patsy’s Banquet Hall on James St. N. and the Corktown. Empty Hours, The Captives, Ten Commandments and the likes would work up the crowd.

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PARTIES

After parties would happen on Grant just up from Grant Avenue Studios. The Gruesomes would hang out and all sorts of garage bands from around Canada – the Frankenstien Five, Sherlocks, the Minstrels, from the States, the Cynics, even some friends from Britain – the Thanes, the Offhooks and Surrounds. There would be jams in the attic where the Chessman practiced above the Op Art and Surreal Rooms. Various feasts like the Medieval, Beatnik, Space and Psychedelic parties transpired along with mystery parties like Baron Digbody’s Castle and the Lady with Brooch beatnik art theft and car rallies around the dozens of waterfalls in Hamilton. We’d walk in woods at night doing silly walks playing pass the documents. Late at night we would tell stories a sentence each and dance in strobe lights waving ties like snakes.  Below are some people – missing Samantha, Andrea, Valerie, Sandy, Suzanne, Keith, Mark, Myra, Jen, Dave, Bam Bam, Michelle, and many other fun folks!

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Christina, Darren, Glynis, Angie, Doug, Erin, Angie


AND THEN

After the album, Rick went back to bass with Andre LaPointe from the Captives coming in on guitar and backing vocals. Gaven Dianda also did a stint or two on bass when Rick was away. When the band disbanded Dan and Gaven went on to form the Swinging Gurus and later Thee Gnostics along with Andre and Thomas Monte from Sublimatus as we were all hanging around at these parties listening to early Pink Floyd, late Miles Davis, Hawkwind, Soft Machine and Orphx.  Mike moved off to Vancouver and then Toronto to work in Musical Media, Warren became Michael and travels the world helping the needy.  Rick and Dan both married their lovely girlfriends at the time RoseAnne and Ada and are still best friends in the Hamilton area working with latest technologies.

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Thee Gnostics – Dan, James, Gaven, Thomas

Hipster Perspective

January 6, 2013
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Hipster – Mobile App and Website

I have just launched a site and mobile app called Hipster at http://www.hipster.mobi and would like to give some background.

Hipster has become a term for people who dress and act cool taking elements from past styles.  Unfortunately and somewhat unfairly it has become a derogatory label – so much so that very few people say they are Hipsters.

I am a Hipster

Let’s take a look at a little “top of the head” history.  To be hip comes from hep – some jazzy black term.  We had the Beatniks in the 50’s who were Hep Cats and we had the Mod and Psychedelic Hip Cats in the 60’s.  60’s punk and early psychedelic folk wore Hipsters – pants that were low on the hips held up by big belts.  These often flared at the bottom – flares.  Not bell bottoms – Hipsters.

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Dan Zen – Stripey Hipsters – Original ’66 taken in

In the past, styles tended to last for a longer time and as time passes, eras get remembered for certain styles. I created a site in the early 2000’s called Hip Cats at http://www.hipcats.com.  There are examples of Hip cultures – Beatnik, Psychedelic, Surf, Goth, Cyberpunk and Urban. On the Scoop page there is a history section for each of these genres.  There are also relevant songs, books and films listed.

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Hip Cats site at http://www.hipcats.com (2002)

These days, with many more people, accessible historical media – movies, TV, songs, the Internet, etc. styles have become much more varied and mixed.  There still are some unique forays and spinoffs like punk, indie-pop, nerd, emo, clubbers, etc. but over the last few decades, kids started liking everything – or a wide variety.  I would go up to someone who looked like a mod and ask them if they were a mod and they would say no – and on occasions, they would answer they did not know what a mod was.  They could not say what their favorite type of music was – they liked everything.  I have mixed emotions over this response – it seems on one hand that they are not trying hard enough – like they have not researched and felt a passion.  On the other hand… it is an inclusive attitude.

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Some Second Generation Hipsters (me on right) 1986

Perhaps it is this lack of historical perspective that has led to concerns of the authenticity of modern day hipsters.  There is merit in this criticism but let’s go a little easy on the youth.  First of all, wise people say this kind of stuff does not matter – who cares what you dress or look like, etc.  I care because it is fun to care, what I wear is self expression.  Do I care if a girl likes to wear mod dresses but does not know their history – not really, I am pleased to tell her of its history.  I think we are drawn to certain styles regardless of knowledge of the deeper culture.  And the deeper culture is born from people who share interests so let’s take a more supportive and nurturing attitude.

Attitude is another issue with the current Hipster.  To be cool is to often be reserved.  This sometimes comes across as being better than thou.  This side effect has been there right from the start of hipness.  So now we have this backlash of you think your so cool… we hate or we laugh at you hipsters, etc.  And then this feeds the standoffishness, etc.

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Zany Dan Zen Dancing 2012

I have never condoned being too cool to communicate.  I am more zany and outgoing and inclusive – hipsters embody all sorts of people.  I think for the most part, the values of current hipsters are good.  They care about the environment – riding bikes, eating local food.  They are into cafe discussions, reading – they tend to be nerdy and intelligent.  This is what I assume – perhaps there are hipsters that do not share these values but for the most part, I think their outlook is positive and commendable.  Treat them like humans and I am sure that they will be kind and even a good influence on your life.

There is the issue of being labeled.  I suspect that nobody likes to be labeled.  I suppose if people include the “snooty attitude” and “lack of authenticity” issues in the label then perhaps I would not like to be labeled a hipster.  But if a hipster is just someone who IS hip – then I don’t mind that label.  I understand the striving to be unique but I say to you, if you ARE hip – then you are a hipster.

Comments welcome and please try out the app and have some fun.  http://www.hipster.mobi

Dan Zen – 2013

Flash is Finished (but not how you have been brainwashed to believe)

October 26, 2012
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Flash Authoring Tool with Asset Tools and Management

I admire the human instinct to explore – to want to do new things.  So… perhaps it is no wonder that the interactive development world has embraced this challenge of HCJ – HTML, CSS and JavaScript under the popular guise of HTML 5 and proudly open source for all to contribute.   Flash on the other hand has been honed for roughly 15 years into a tool with synergy of parts organized by a hired team of brilliant people with the focused purpose to make an application for building advanced interactivity.

In my mind, Flash is finished – as in COMPLETE.  In recent years, the improvements that the Adobe engineering team were telling us, we could not even really understand.  Concurrency… and other really high level tweaks to make it run as fast as possible has been the focus.   Developer conferences were becoming stale – there was nothing really new and exciting – new ended at getting access to the GPU and mobile devices through AIR.  One final wish for Flash would be to integrate the GPU so we do not have to think about it – like the Starling framework.

So… can we perhaps get it in our head that the lack of excitement for Flash is not because it is dead but because it no longer needs to be changed.  Flash is a mature system.  As such, can we please show it some respect – the whole world seems to want to kill it – is that what you do with adults after they stop growing?

On the HTML side, we are still adding new things.  We got three important tags – canvas, audio and video.  When Flash got bitmap access (canvas) in 2003 – yes, ten years ago, we developers felt the amazing excitement.  It was followed shortly with a dramatic upgrade to ActionScript – moving to AS3 a generation beyond the current JavaScript.  These were exciting changes.  The changes we are excited about on the HTML side are for things that Flash had years and years ago – I can’t even remember Flash without sound and video.

While HTML is still changing, so too is the culture of Web developers.  Hopefully they will advance past the mindset of just presenting information – and this whole adaptive design hoopla – we have been doing adaptive design in Flash forever.  That is what vector is about – that is a main strength of Flash.  Flash has always been able to scale in multiple ways – I have made many projects that implement adaptable design.  Anyway… hopefully developers will look past this to building applications where users can do things and create things.  This does not mean a form.  This often involves several elements that Web developers are still getting used to.

1. Hit Tests
2. Dragging and dropping
3. Resizing and rotating
4. Drawing with shapes and curves

If you ask any Web developer how many times they have done any of these you would probably get that they have dragged and dropped a few times.  I, being an interactive developer, have done all of these things hundreds if not thousands of times.

In Flash, we have been given 67 packages holding 757 classes although we do not use all of them and many just hold constants.  Perhaps we use about 50-100 classes regularly. Our main interactive container class, the Sprite has 68 events available, 53 properties and 39 methods.  You can see them here: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/flash/display/Sprite.html  Some might say that this is bloat.  Well… there have been many things pruned from Flash as well over the years – including the current way that JavaScript handles classes.  Flash is so well organized that any excess does not really get in the way.  You import the classes you need – and it is nice to have what you need.

AS3 Packages, Classes and Sprite Example.

AS3 Packages, Classes and Sprite Example.

I will continue to develop my Web and Mobile apps in Flash.  If I need a Web app for mobile browser then I will use HCJ.  I encourage all former Flash developers to use and recommend the right tool for the job.  I also encourage you to help develop HCJ into a right tool.  But I certainly do not encourage you to say Flash is dead or to recommend to co-workers, clients and upcoming developers not to use Flash.  Because I can guarantee you that in Flash we can build faster and more concisely than HTML 5 developers when it comes to advanced interaction.

Dan.

PS.

View the source of what I needed to do to get dragging to work in HTML.  I looked for almost a day to get a drag and drop script that worked across all platforms.  In the end, I chose an older script and modified it with the help of an expert in HTML 5 to handle mobile.  http://www.danzen.com/realmstar/drag-drop-custom.js – is 789 lines long to drag and drop.  Well… Flash is startDrag() and stopDrag().

This brings us to the topic of Libraries and Frameworks. JQuery and JQuery Mobile have have drag and drop solutions – I could not get them to work but I don’t currently do jQuery so that could be why.  CreateJS has a solution and I have since gotten it to work.  SentiaTouch probably does as well, etc.  All these different frameworks provide their solution with their syntax.  HTML is trying to implement drag and drop if they have not already – I think I read something about it.  Well… I tell you, it is time consuming to keep up with all this stuff and be swapping frameworks every month.  Perhaps it will settle but how will this look?  Do Web developers want all the solutions to go into HCJ?  Are the framework developers going to be happy with this as they see their framework implemented “natively” and become poly-fill for old browsers – hopefully.  And will this end version – converging to perfection be called bloated.  Will it take the same resources Flash?  Most likely – that is if it ever gets there.

In my mind, we need both open source and closed source.  You cannot design by committee – it gives you grey – committees and open source are similar.  Agile groups or even individuals are where ideas and advancement come from.  It helps for there to be a reward – such as money to spur such innovation.  Of course many innovators will donate their work to open source, it is just that for the most part, I see innovation coming from closed source – so do not try and kill it by smearing it and making it taboo – or, for instance, taking away browser plug ins.  It is most ridiculous for an open source community to say the only scripting in Web browsers will be JavaScript.  Can you hear yourselves?

Dan Zen Interview and Article on The Fair Observer

April 27, 2012

Image

Yuna from the Fair Observer in Munich interviewed me on Skype – it was cool.  Have a look – there are two articles, one is an interview and the other a piece that I wrote about creation and consumption – it got edited a little (less pictures, less links – my title used Consumption rather than Consumerism – does it matter?).

http://www.fairobserver.com/article/interview-dan-zen-mad-inventor

http://www.fairobserver.com/article/state-interactive-content-2012-consumerism-and-creation

All the best,

Dan

-12-

Processing is Dead! All Hail JavaScript!

January 21, 2012

hail2

Processing is Dead!  All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

ActionScript is Dead!  All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

Java is Dead!  All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

Objective C is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

C++ is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

C# is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

Ruby is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

Python is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

PHP is Dead! All Hail JavaScript and HTML5!

Hopefully you detect my bitterness and disappointment with the open source world, the tech media and the marketing industry in their frenzy to adopt HTML5 as supreme leader and shun perfectly good programming environments.

My experience is with ActionScript and Flash – a mature authoring environment which allows developers to make once and publish anywhere.  Anywhere that is until Apple came along an banned it from the mobile Web with lame self-serving excuses.  What followed was nothing short of persecution.  https://danzen.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/apple-should-be-punished-for-attempting-to-kill-browser-plugins/

Processing is a spin-off of Java with a wonderful artist following to make cool things.  Well… watch out… once people realize that you can do this in JavaScript and HTML5 – maybe you will have the horde against you too.

Most of these languages are server side languages and back-end coders may think they are safe because JavaScript is a front end programming language… but there is server-side JavaScript too.

My point is – there does not have to be nor should there be one programming language or development stack.  Why we are letting the Web be controlled by one system is beyond me.  Countless Marketing folks, Developers and Designers I have talked to in the field are saying Flash is dead – Plugins are dead.  Stop trying to kill Flash with your words and start trying to support it.

My apologies for the harsh metaphor (not as harsh now that I have taken out the swastika from the picture).  Of course, nothing is worse than human persecution.  But what some of you with power of influence are doing when declaring Flash dead or accepting the demise of the Plugin is unjust and truly not good for our culture.  Please read https://danzen.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/apple-should-be-punished-for-attempting-to-kill-browser-plugins/.


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