Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year
2008 eh? That’ll be one for the books. Highs, lows, spills, thrills and (currently) bellyaches were aplenty and we’re sure that they’ll continue long into 2009. We met some hugely influential and wonderful people and discovered a whole underbelly of our own industry that previously had been so far underground its leader was a mole.
Look out for Unconferences, Unconventions, Creative Camps, BarCamps, Co-Working and more far into 2009; great events and concepts that are pushing the new way forward in how the Digital Media industry operates and interacts as well as opening up avenues for doing business in new and exciting ways too. And the best thing is everyone’s invited to the party, with openness and collaboration at the very heart of the whole ethos. We’ll stop trying to explain the unexplainable and just say GET INVOLVED.
Thank you to our wonderful clients who are the only reason we’re still around and to our friends and families who have put up with a lot this year as we burned the midnight oil far too often. It’ll be worth it, the greater good owes us all.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to one and all…
No More Art
Standards just ain’t what they used to be…
So an interesting debate has broken out among the people we follow on Twitter regarding the importance of web design standards and in particular whether or not site validation is important. For those not familiar with website validation the W3C are its overseers and the idea is to have a published and agreed set of standards for best practice in website design.
The above debate was kicked off after Banjax published a list of student portfolios from the University of Ulster’s Interactive Multimedia Design degree course split into those portfolios that validate and those that don’t. This quickly divided opinion on their motives for doing so, whether the students or the University are at fault and ultimately on the importance of web standards and validation.
Which then (keeping up?) led to a debate about why Google, the behemoth and shining light of the web, choose to ignore standards in design and validation on their homepage at www.google.com
For comparison’s sake the No More Art homepage validates as XHTML 1.0 transitional. Check this link for comfirmation of that.
Meanwhile the Banjax homepage tentatively vaildates as HTML 5 which is massively impressive given that HTML 5 is still considered to be experimental, hence the tentative pass as W3C haven’t decided fully on an operating standard for HTML 5.0. Hats off for even attempting valid HTML 5.0 at this stage fellas. Meet you at the bell curve later on maybe?
And then we come to Google who’s homepage is (outwardly) fairly basic but does not even come close to vaildation with a whopping 60 errors. By the terms of the standards it’s a massive failure and so you have to ask, especially since Google are top notch at everything, for reasons why this is the case. The arguments for HTML vaildation are that the site will appear and function the same across multiple platforms and browsers, be more accessible to disabled users, degrade gracefully in older browsers (not really true) and make for cleaner, faster and smaller files hence speeding up the web. There are other reasons but these are the usual stated ones in our experience.
Yet the only reason we can suppose for Google’s homepage being as it is is that it’s smaller that way in terms of filesize, meaning that it saves them money given that it has possibly the highest traffic on the whole of the web.
A sample equation would be:
Valid Google Homepage (10K) X 1000000000000 users = £100,000,000,000,000,000,000 per year in bandwidth costs.
Invalid Google Homepage (8K) X 1000000000000 users = £80,000,000,000,000,000,000 per year in bandwidth costs. (Daft figures but you get the point.)
Which in turn means that validation only works up to a point, and goes out the window when it threatens to cost extra revenue for very high traffic sites. Which makes a bit of a joke out of vaildation as a whole really when you think about it, as the aim of any good site is traffic and, generally, revenue creation.
So are the value of the standards less important than the value of the site or are there other reasons for Google ignoring validation, along with Ebay, Amazon and a host of the other big sites?
Take The Red Pill Neo…
So we went today to the Invest NI seminar on Research and Development at the big Invest building at Bedford Street. The jist was, according to Arlene Foster and the Invest NI folk who spoke, that Research and Development assistance needed to be more accessible, simpler and transparent in order for people to respond to it more positively so as to have a higher uptake in applications for, what we all will call from now on, R&D. They’re basing this on some report called the Matrix which probably sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. It’s not the most original name for a report ever either it seems!
Now anyone who knows us knows that these types of events can make you glaze over in the blink of a Powerpoint presentation but outwardly at least, this new approach to R&D suggests that Invest might be ready to start listening to the needs of us mere mortals who aren’t in industrial sectors and who don’t export 50,000 things per year to Boston or Portland or wherever people export stuff to these days.
In our case we’ve got what we think is a highly innovative product in mind and it’s at the good ol’ R&D stage which means, hopefully, we can gain some assistance. It seems that there are a few bits of criteria but certainly compared to previous Invest NI offerings, these seem minimal.
You can get support for your project definition (what we think is writing a spec document and timescale but we’ve been wrong in the past), and then you can get assistance in actually developing the project (up to 75% it seems with an additional 15% for collaborative projects.)
And, contrary to our previous brushes with Invest, you don’t need to be an Invest NI client to apply and also if you’re a business new to R&D you’re positively compelled to get involved! Based on the following criteria:
- Less than 50 employees / An Individual
- Not in receipt of Invest NI funding for an R&D project within the previous 5 years
- May have potential to export at a future date
Now there’s that export word again but coupled with the words ‘may’ and ‘potential’ it doesn’t seem so bad.
What qualifies as R&D? We don’t know yet but we’re going to try to hook up with a sector advisor soon and get this ball rolling. Invest NI are also promising that decisions will be made fast so we’ll hold them to that also.
Let’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes. More to come…
More info at Invest NI’s Website
So for good reasons today we went looking for resources and general info on the creative industries in Northern Ireland. It’s for a project that may start to take shape in the New Year and a wee bit of research could be necessary to make sure it’s actually needed.
Any way I thought a good port of call might be the NI Business Info portal at www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk so I hopped on over, typed ‘creative industries’ into the search box and got the following:
Your search for creative industries returned 147 guidance pages, 24 support/subsidy schemes, 7 publications, 1 form, 71 pages from our partner sites. Good stuff, I’ll find a lot here I thought.
And then I clicked on the top result which resulted in FAIL. Check it out at www.culture.gov.uk/about_us/creativeindustries/
I thought that the sparse 404 page might have as much resonance with others as it did with me given the year I’ve had. I’m not gloating, I know that large sites are difficult to maintain. There is just a certain pathos to it. Maybe you agree?
Too Much Dough!
I’ve been thinking for a while about all the Apple fanboys and fangirls I seem to be surrounded by and in fact have been admonished at length regarding my preference for PCs by the likes of Phil O Kane and Andy McMillan in very recent times.
It’s like owning a Macbook gives you entry into some upper echelon of geekdom that even the most ardent PC user is locked out of, not to mention anyone who is horrified by Apple’s frankly farcical pricing. And I’ve been plotting a response ever since, some answer to the Mac porn I’m constantly surrounded by.
If I had the time I might well have gone for a rip off of the Marks and Spencer’s ads, you know the ones with the lurid close ups of food and the breathy voice overs.
But alas, and I bow in reverence to them, the Simpsons have come along and beaten the pants off my ideas with the Mapple episode, where Springfield gets a Mapple store. The clips are genius. Thank you so much Simpsons people, you’ve made me happier than you can ever know.