I've been doubting whether or not I should blog about this, seeing controversy seemed to me what he was after, and this post would only be adding to that. Jonathan Harris' session at Flash on the Beach blew me away with some of the most inspirational art projects I've seen to date, I was genuinely moved by the work he presented. At the same time this talk left me incredibly frustrated after hearing his perception of the Flash community and a message that seemed devoid of any sense of reality.
He started off by saying he was going to present a different session than was previously announced and he had "something important he wanted to say to the Flash community for a long time now...". That line came back at regular intervals during his talk, seemingly building up to his big message. It almost felt to me as if he was after a "Michael Moore addressing the Republican National Convention" moment.
Photo taken by schobiwan
Then it came, a rather longwinded presentation on how the Flash community is too occupied with experimenting and tinkering, too depended on the tools and language they work with and fail to deliver a genuine message. We were presented with a checklist.
I can appreciate some thought provoking sessions and constructive criticism but this just seemed so out of touch and dismissive of the work we all do on a daily basis.
Experimentation and tinkering is what leads to people like Joshua Davis and Erik Natzke, experimentation and tinkering is what made Papervision3D possible and pushes the envelope for the Flash Player.
The next time I'm building a Flex based configurator tool or scripting a transition I'll think of Jonathan Harris and keep in mind if the code I'm writing is going to be relevant in 25 years or if it feels special like a love letter. I'll also remember the agony of working with designers over the years too occupied in their own little worlds and form over implementation.
I invite you to come out of that Bhutanese cave Mr. Harris, there is a whole world of Flash based content and a community outside of the artistic realm that is worthy of some recognition.
My apologies for this rant and rather irreverent look at Jonathan Harris' session. I was disappointed Flash on the Beach ended on this note.