Random thought on Ello and other social networks

Ello is great for longform posts. If you are going to post something very short, it will get lost in the sea of large format images and videos, so your posts should be at least a few paragraphs to grab someone’s attention. Then the writing should be great if you want to make sure it’s going to be read. And – if the statistics are true and our attention span has shrunk so much – you have to do all this in 8 seconds.

At some point I was thinking that the problem with a status update reach was something specific to Facebook.

Now I realize that it doesn’t really matter where you post stuff. On Facebook you’ve got a newsfeed with algorithms that decide what shows up and what doesn’t, on Twitter is mostly a sea of links – to continue with the sea metaphor – while Ello allows you to post a few large format images at the same time, thus pushing other posts down, below the fold.

If you don’t have a visual hook – and the hook could even be the large quantity of text – or, in the case of Facebook, don’t use its native photo/video sharing features, whatever you’re posting is going to be something users will scroll by.

Creative Coding Updates

As I tend to update this blog on a regular basis – once or twice per year – I thought I should share a few things from the creative coding domain.

There’s a new class about Processing on Udemy, and it’s taught by Jerome Herr. Thinking in retrospect, I wish I could’ve found something like this class a few years ago, when I was starting out. You can join the class over here: https://www.udemy.com/creativecoding/

If you’re more of a Javascript fan and you dabbled with D3.js, there’s a new short book by Fabian Dubois, called “Draw like Vladislav Mirvald with D3.js“. You can buy the book here: https://gumroad.com/l/mirvald

It’s a short, compelling book targeted at people who are interested in art, and especially generative art, that helps you get immediate results while helping you learn some more advanced ways of making beautiful visuals. If you haven’t used D3 in a while – like I did -, I think a refresher will be needed before jumping into this book. A great way to do that is by visiting the “Dashing D3.js” website.

In October 2014 I created “Creative Coding with Processing and P5.js“, a Facebook group that now has more than 600 members and it’s growing at a steady pace. The group is now supplemented with a Slack channel where you can share your insights and talk about creative coding and other interesting things in real time. To make things easier for people to sign up, I made a landing page with Bootstrap.

You can join the Slack channel here: http://creativecoding.geekesque.ro/. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you with anything.

How I remember the 90s

I grew up surrounded by technology, although it wasn’t always the bleeding edge kind of technology. I remember playing with an HC-91, a ZX Spectrum clone made in Romania, when I was 6-7 years old. The fact that you could write some weird, cryptic lines of characters that could load a game or make one by yourself was fascinating back then. I still remember the sound this thing made when you were loading a game. It was something similar to the modem dial tone, and I think it took a minute or two to load something, and you could hear variations of that tone.

The 90s in Romania were like the 80s in the USA from a personal computer point of view. At least that’s how it felt to me over the years. I remember magazines that had a DYI look to them, printed on newspaper-quality paper, spread all over the house. I don’t remember seeing glossy magazines until the later half of the 90s. In those DIY-looking magazines people used to write reviews of games from series like King’s Quest and Dizzy, share BASIC code for simple games and programs.

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Resources for the Processing beginner

Image generated with Processing
Image generated with Processing

I found out about Processing by accident. And what a great accident it was. While browsing Goodreads, I stumbled upon a book about generative art. Its cover drew my attention and I decided to find out more about this kind of art and about Processing. So I went on processing.org, downloaded Processing 2.1.1, and looked through the exhibition. When you see amazing things like this or this, and you see what can be done with lots of data to obtain beautiful and interesting vizualisations, you are instantly convinced by this language. Before you know it, you’re hooked and typing away code in the Processing IDE.

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What’s up?

Silk Wave
Multiple silky waves, created with Processing and Photoshop.

Long time no writing over here. New beginnings, new posts on my ancient blog, with an ancient theme that I will change at some point. But first, what’s up? :)

What happened exactly?

Since December I had to leave Bucharest behind and start again from point 0. *dramatic music plays* Nothing new here, but I find it funny that I was so confused back then, like the whole world was turned upside down. What’s even funnier is that I find this whole “the great unknown thing” exciting. I’m excited about learning – like I haven’t been in a long time -, trying things that I thought hard at first, but proved to be… hard, but with awesome results :). So I’m in a “forced sabbatical” if I could call it that way.

In the last few months, I tried to use my spare time in ways that could help me develop “forgotten” skills, like coding, and skills that might prove useful on the long run. Basically this is what I did:

  1. I started learning HTML & CSS;
  2. Moved on to jQuery and Javascript;
  3. Polished my Photoshop and Illustrator skills – still learning now;
  4. I began making glitch art;
  5. Glitch art was the “gateway drug” to Processing, NodeBox, and openFrameworks. Right now I’m concentrating all my efforts on Processing. I also have a trial version of Max/MSP which will probably expire before I’ll even get the basics.
  6. Got interested in pixel art, and I made a few simple things, even a Flappy Bird drawing. 😀
  7. Now I’m mixing a bunch of these things to create a new theme for my blog  – probably it will take some time until I’ll finish it – and to update my portfolio.

As I want to write more about these things, I will try to post regularly here. I’ll start with something about glitch art, then move on to a series about Processing. I’ll be writing about this stuff to help me memorise it easier, and to share it with people who might be interested in these subjects.