Flash Gurus (Pt I) Yugo Nakamura
On the modern web, they are all-seeing and all-powerful, with a ubiquity across the online world that inspires devotion
On the modern web, they are all-seeing and all-powerful, with a ubiquity across the online world that inspires devotion. But who are these prophets that spread the word of its divinity among us mere mortals, and what does it really mean to be crowned a Flash guru?
Beauty and brilliance is nothing if nobody notices it. What good is the brightest jewel or the sweetest song if it remains buried and unseen, stifled and silent? That might be deemed a slightly corny and dramatic way to set the premise for this feature, but the point remains that it is people who make good things truly great. We look for the skilled among us to translate their abilities into impressive works of art, desirable objects or inspirational visions for enriching our lives and igniting some passion. More often than not, this translates into a shared collective, a scene or movement that hopes to spread a message that something important is happening. Whether it might be punk rock, yoga, the Atkins diet or Scientology, people power always plays a huge part in giving credence where there might be doubt. So what of Adobe Flash, and any prescient technology for that matter? The prominence of Flash today is undoubtedly attributed to the bold things achieved with it, certainly as much as it is about the explosion of high-powered web technology. Achievements in web and multimedia design that we as users consume and wax lyrical about, often through the pages of a certain magazine. In turn, there will always the talented few of us who observe and derive an inspiration so strong that it compels our own work to push boundaries further, propagating the whole thing again and again. The perfect marriage of technology and people, Flash design as a modern art form has developed its own subculture that separates it from associated tools such as DHTML, CSS and AJAX, partly because it exists within a bizarre vacuum. Preposterously ubiquitous within the browser but largely accidentally branded as a genuine standard, the very richness of its capability for what commercial web design demands is wholly attributed to the dependence of a plug-in. Animator, short filmmaker, dynamic designer, games developer, GUI innovator and online author – being all things to all sorts of different men comes at that price. However, estranged from the purities of web design, Flash offers a glamorous entry point for innovation in our industry, and with that some of the personalities that characterise our love for this trade. We buy their books and worship their wisdom at conferences like Flash in the Can or Flash on the Beach. Godlike geeks placed on pedestals, they are the rock stars of the scene.
So if people power is so vital to powering Flash into the years to come, who are the most important forces? Who are the key figures, the most influential few that define where the platform is headed? An invitation for conjecture if ever we issued one, maybe, but this feature hopes to at least ignite the debate. Perhaps if we identify the source of their resonance we can derive some big lessons, signposts to the road of creative enlightenment if you will. Over the next few pages, we’ll identify five reluctant superstars of the Flash community and explain why their story and approach is so important. Via an assessment of their work and an insight into who they are, we’ll try to crystallise the traits you’ll need to join them. In addition, we’ve got some comments from some of our own Flash gurus on who they think is hottest and why.
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