Sunday, March 29, 2009

What do Flash Developers Do? We make Cool Shit

Easy, I know, I know! We make interactive media.

Ok, that is an alright answer for people in our cozy Flash community bubble... but what about for the other 99.9% percent of the population? How do you explain to them what we do?

It is not as easy as it sounds. Don't believe me? What do you answer when your Aunt asks you what you do for a living? Seriously, you can't say I am a Flash Developer and expect to get anything back besides a blank stare and maybe an "oh, that is nice".

I know I am not the only one who gets this response. Go to ActionScriptHero and read how people introduce themselves... it is pretty entertaining.

It seems that most people don't want to try to explain it and just settle with the most generic answers possible: "I work with computers" or "I make websites". OK, I guess that is true. But when I hear "I work with computers" I think IT. And when I hear "I make websites" I think of static corporate sites.

If you pick either of those answers to use at the bar, are you getting follow up questions? I doubt it. Move along now, this guy is boring.

Whats funny tho is if our media outlet of choice was TV instead of computers, the response would be completely different. Answering "I make commercials" would receive a completely different response than answering "I make websites". People get excited about TV. They want to know more, they want to be close to it, learn about it. It intrigues them.

Why is it not the same for the web? TV and the web are merging... they both are part of the entertainment industry. We can do everything TV does, plus make that shit move, personalize it, and add Bling Bling. Yet, somehow making a national TV spot is much more interesting than making a national microsite or commercial game for the same company.

The only reason I can come up with for this is that people don't understand what we do and we are inept at explaining it. "Interactive Media" is not a household term. "Microsites" might as well be a foreign language. If we can't use those words as a foundation, how can we possibly expect to get someone to understand "Flash Development".

Here is the solution I propose: We replace the words "interactive media" (since they are bound to make your listener to fall asleep instantly) with "cool shit". So what does a Flash Developer do? We make cool shit.

I dunno if Oxford will accept that answer tho... admittedly, "cool shit" may not be the answer. But what is? How do we get people to understand our industry and recognize it as being as interesting as the rest of the entertainment industry?


Digiguru said...

I wrestle with this constantly and have tried using the words, rich and engaging etc, but that's not it really. I hope someone has that answer and I look forward to reading what others have to say.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this as well. Most headhunters don't even know what their clients mean when they say Flash Developer. All they hear is "Flash".... I actually had to post on my blog the differences between designer and developer. Adding "Flex" in this mix has just made things worse.

Adobe reminds me of another company... Commodore. Great products. No Advertising.

Andre Anaya said...

Well, I think it's more difficult make your grandma understand that this is a real job. But when I'm not at family meeting, I use to say that I make internet cool stuff. And when I recieve that odd face, I list cool clients that I worked.

Ian Ford said...

I tell people I'm involved with web development. They ask for clarification and I say "flash", which is met about equally with approval and disgust.

greg h said...

Hi Mark,

At the bar or with your Aunt you could say "I am a creative".

Granted not as cool as "I'm in television".

If you are doing video, you would be honest saying "I do web TV".

Or a variation on what Andre said, you could show them stuff you do.

Now I did not do the following, but my seeing the following link today did make me come back to add this comment (because it is "cool shit" ... well, cool good wholesome fun anyway ;-)

Anonymous said...

Granted explaining it to my Grandmother is a cumbersome task. Especially if I'm not able to show her my work in person, but for the most part when meeting someone new I simply say Graphic Designer. This is always met with intrigue. If they ask for further clarification I say Interactive Web Designer (Ignoring the developer aspect of it for first introduction, because that does seem to bore people) and list some of the big name clients I do work for. Admittedly if they require anything more I do state "cool shit on the web" :)

Anonymous said...

Actually most Flash content people pump out isn't cool shit. It's just plain shit. Or possibly Ugly shit. Worthless shit. Useless shit. Annoying shit. Now Flash content CAN be cool. Sometimes it is. But mostly, it isn't.

Ickydime said...

I'd consider it an art. On one side of the coin you have artists of varying degrees of experience and talent. On the other side of the coin you have viewers with certain tastes. Combine those two elements and surely there will be quite a bit of Flash out there that may not suit your taste or reach your expectation for quality.

When you visit the web you could relate it to going to a museum. Regardless of what technology you are looking at, not everything will impress you, but hopefully you will find something that leaves an impact or makes an impression.

Anonymous said...

I still don't know what a Flash Developer does. I only know that it's hard for them to explain what it is.