It's been a long time since Rawkes last witnessed the activity it deserves, a trend I aim to quash if I've got anything to do with it. Some would say I've been lazy in my duties to this site, others would say I've been incredibly busy with university and other projects. Both would be right, but neither would be a valid excuse. Today I vow to give Rawkes the attention it deserves. Today I outline how I plan to do that, but before I talk about the exciting future of Rawkes let me update you on some recent event leading up to this commitment.
The most profound part of my life for the last 14 months has been studying for my degree in Interactive Media Production at Bournemouth University. In just over a year I have learnt countless new skills and theories, many of which are starting to bear fruit outside of my education. My proudest moment during this time is passing the first year of the course with a strong 2:1. Even though I know I could've, should've, would've done better, the fact I secured a place in the second year was good enough. I'm now 2 months into the new semester and my outlook on university has changed considerably, it is now my number 1 priority to not only work as hard as I can, but also to use the opportunities given here to my advantage. You'll hear much more about what I get up to in my quest for knowledge as time unfolds.
During the summer I was fortunate enough to earn myself an internship at Redweb, a fantastic digital creative agency here in sunny Bournemouth. I've spoken about my experiences there in much more detail, but needless to say that I learnt a helluva lot and appreciate the opportunity they gave me to explore some of the latest web technologies. They definitely deserve the crown of the South West's number 1 digital agency, at least according to the NMA and myself.
Apart from those pretty substantial events I've mainly been exploring more technologies and theory than you can shake a stick at. The most notable of which have been making digital media physical with Arduino, and my ever increasing interest in copyright law and intellectual property (if you haven't read "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig then I suggest you do so).
For anyone who has visited Rawkes before you'll have already noticed a big change, namely the lack of anything to do with freelancing. Since starting university I've been freelancing less and less ultimately resulting in the difficult decision to cease advertising my services. To put it bluntly I've been just too damn busy. Rawkes will instead shift focus to blogging and experimentation with the aim to help me achieve my future goals, hopefully proving useful to others along the way.
I've covered the changes in a previous entry but in a nutshell the essence of the new aims are to provide an evolving platform for my own future development.
A couple of announcements
Ok, I need to get this out the way. I will no longer be supporting legacy browsers and technologies. End of. I have my reasons, one being that <2% of visitors use IE6, but all you need know is that I want to push Rawkes far and fast into the future. Supporting these ancient remnants of the internet were just slowing me down.
The other announcement is that I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to easily move comments from the old site over to the new system. Finding a stable method of converting WordPress comments into ExpressionEngine is proving incredibly difficult. For now treat the new site as a fresh start although I will endeavour to get the comments back if possible.
New spangly stuff
With the path open to new and exciting technologies I decided to go all out. You'll find that this new site exclusively utilises HTML 5 and CSS 3, check the source if you don't believe me. Embracing these yet-to-be-ratified languages has allowed a whole bunch of interesting and interactive features to make their way into the design, the most prominent of which is the animated header, built entirely with <canvas> and SVG. I'll be talking more about these technologies in the future but it's safe to say that they are friggin cool!
Another technology, albeit lesser known, that have been used in the development is SASS. In particular I used the Compass framework for managing the stylesheets in a ridiculously productive way. It is my first time using SASS and I will certainly be using it in future projects.
This is only the beginning
I'm sure, if not positive, that you'll find some bugs and inconsistencies in the new Rawkes. It has been a deliberate decision to launch the site "as is" and develop on the fly instead of letting it fester on my development server. All I ask is that you get in touch with me if you notice any deal-breakers, my details can be found on the mission statement. On the same token I warn you now that things will change over time as the site evolves so don't worry if something isn't where it was last time, I probably just moved it.
Another reason for launching early is to place a stake in the ground giving me a fixed position to reference and start moving away from. I find it incredibly hard to develop a site to 100% completion in a clinical development environment, sometimes it's better to get it out there in the real world, even if it might mean it not being entirely ready.
This new Rawkes, this new beginning, is a commitment from me that I have every wish to honour. A recent post by John O'Nolan detailed his plans for 2009 and how he met, or failed to meet, them. I thought this would be a perfect way to make a tangible version of my plans, so here are my goals for 2010:
- Release at least 5 open-source projects
- Write 2 decent guest posts for other blogs
- Produce an iPhone application
- Make something profound with Arduino
- Write 5 articles on media theory
I'm sure I will add to these goals as time goes by.
I hope this insight into recent events and the development behind the new Rawkes has proven interesting. I implore that you add Rawkes to your RSS reader of choice or follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with what happens.
I look forward to seeing you around.