Explore, be curious.

#BeforeDigitalMischief: Project WSMY (2006)

Posted
14 Feb 2017
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In a previous post about one of my first web projects in 1998, I rolled back the clock to re-discover a time before my digital mischief-making adventures in adland. Here’s part 2 in the series.

This one is about a movement and project very close to my heart. But first, a lil TL;DR warning. It’s crazy long haha!

Preamble babel

As much as I’m a kid at heart, the reality is I’ve been designing and coding for the Web close to two decades now. And that’s a lot in internet years.

Some time ago in the early-mid 2000s, I saw firsthand how the Web evolved from an exclusive playground for geeks to a place people of all walks of life are getting themselves on.

The movement

Accessibility and usability issues, along with the Web’s long-term viability, were a rapidly growing concern.

Different people with different needs. Different browsers with different codes. Different tools with different plugins. Different devices with different technologies. Different locations with different internet speeds. Etc etc.

Simply put, it was like a human body that’s experimented on and abused without any limits. Its organ system was breaking down, and in treating symptoms rather than the cause, was headed towards terminal illness (cue dramatic music).

To address the mess and move forward, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), led by the man who invented the Web, formulated the guidelines for everyone-and-everything Web related to comply with. But it would’ve hit a brick wall without the support of a grassroots movement.

The Web Standards Project (WaSP), co-founded by the man who wrote the “bible” for modern web design, made it their mission to get all the guilty parties on board. Which they eventually did… and the rest is history.

Fuhhh, now that the intricate part is out of the way… introducing…

Project WSMY, 2006

Web Standards Malaysia, or as it was fondly dubbed WSMY, was set up with the sole purpose of reaching the local web community on the benefits of web standards.

Web Standards Malaysia (2006)

That’s a snapshot of wsmy.org when it was launched 11 years ago.

Wait what… “Responsive Web Design” in 2006? In the era of not-really-smart-phones!? Well… not really. While it was how we were approaching web design at the time, the term itself obviously weren’t even coined yet. If I recall correctly, we called it future-proofing our websites.

Fundamentally, that’s what web standards was all about. To make sure the contents published on the Web are accessible and usable not only for all (if not most) users, but also on the devices we’re using now and in the future.

And therein lies the problem. While some (like myself) embraced adopting web standards in the way we work (and with that said, it required major adjustments in processes and thinking). The same could not be said about most web designers and developers at the time.

In anything that involves change, there will be resistance. Not everyone took kindly to the advocation of, among many other things, the end of Flash. Neither were everyone of us able to foresee next generation of the Web take place.

So to open minds and soften hearts, we (re)focused our efforts at WSMY in showcasing and discussing the potentials of web standards when used creatively, from the design thinking aspects to the web services it inspires, as can be seen in this screenshot.

Web Standards Malaysia (2007)

Of course Project WSMY would not have been what it was (even how briefly) without the help of my good mates Suffian Rahman (a killer writer) and Raz Hoe (a badass programmer), and the support it got from our web community. Love all of yous. <3

Looking back admittedly, WSMY would have benefitted from more TLC on my part. It’ll always be one of the projects I wish I could roll it back. Not gonna make excuses, this one is on me.

Joining the mothership

While there were plenty what ifs during the project, the say whaaat moment was when I joined The Web Standards Project as member of its International Liaison Group. Even though my participation were limited, it just felt so surreal being part of the grassroots coalition. I still remember the call. And get goosebumps seeing my name on its website to this very day (excuse my intro copy hahahah).

WaSP ILG members

After that, what happened?

Taking a rather different path than my peers in web standards, by building my career in the digital marketing and advertising industry, it may have looked like I’ve abandon the good fight.

Trust me, I did not. Well, maybe I’ve been mischievous little haha. But in retrospect, I’ve stayed the course in most of the projects I’ve been involved with.

Chances are quite high that if you live in Malaysia, you’ve used or are using something I’ve had my hands-on on. Whether it’s a digital service, product or marketing piece for the brands I’ve worked with, the thinking and skills I brought over from web standards has constantly made the work cutting edge.

After all, as a wise man once said…

To break the rules, you must first master them.

Till my next post. Kasi like la satu for reading this far. :)

#BeforeDigitalMischief: PowerEFX (1998)

Posted
20 Dec 2016
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Previously, I posted a showreel to commemorate my Decade of Digital Mischief in adland. For this #BeforeDigitalMischief series, let me take you back way back back into time. Back to my digital roots.

PowerEFX, 1998

This was my first “commissioned” website work.

PowerEFX

First off, I’m from a family of car nuts. Some time in 1998, my mom (who ran an ad agency) and brother (who is an OG car nut) launched a car magazine called PowerEFX. Circulation was mainly for Malaysia’s down south (Johor Bahru and Singapore) market, with intentions to expand beyond that.

When I took on this project, I’ve been experimenting a lot with DHTML (which to me is the true predecessor of HTML5). Macromedia (bought over later by Adobe) had just released Dreamweaver v1.0 into the wild, and I was having a go at it. After playing with its timeline layer animation tool, I decided to design a splash screen that would assemble itself onload. I know, it’s so gimmicky, but back then this trickery was like having Jedi force powers hahaha!

As a self-taught designer (I ran a retail skate business at the time, before furthering studies… which is another #BeforeDigitalMischief story I’ll save for a different post), the software I used to design was called Micrografx Picture Publisher. It wasn’t the best choice, for sure. Of the many features it lacked, you couldn’t undo more than once. Yeah. Undo. Only. Once. Can’t describe how painful it was just to design that UI, although less painful than masking out the bg on that mouseover placard holding navigation guy!

You can still (somewhat) view the demo version of PowerEFX here.
(Thanks WayBackMachine for keeping a copy!)

Obviously, experimenting wasn’t my only motivation. I was quite a car nut myself and drove a Honda Integra DC2 (which I owned for 5 wonderful years). Being a Honda guy through and through, I preferred following sites like The Temple of Vtec (of which PowerEFX’s website became an official member) for the latest lowdown, rather than printed magazines.

Even though the Web was a tiny place at the time, and that being a web designer wasn’t a viable career choice yet, I thought otherwise. I visualised a future working with my favourite automotive brands. And as insane as it seemed at the time, the vision became a reality. Since then, I’ve worked on the websites, online presence and even award-winning marketing campaigns for Volkswagen, Honda, MINI-BMW and Proton.

The next #BeforeDigitalMischief post will be about Web Standards Malaysia (2005), the movement and adventures that came from that. Stay tuned and gimme a like!

Short Film: Find my Phone

Posted
19 Dec 2016
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A captivating documentary that follows a stolen phone’s second life by means of using spyware.

Scary how easy it is to spy on someone in the digital age.

A Decade of Digital Mischief

Posted
25 Nov 2016
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One more off the bucket list. I present to you my showreel: A Decade of Digital Mischief.

As it turns out (didn’t realise it until recently), 2016 is somewhat special. 10 years ago I made a decision that, to be frank, could have been a total disaster. A leap of faith, as some would say.

I’ve been designing for digital media since way before digital had any place in an ad agency. Back when mainstream folks wanted nothing to do with it. And likewise, I wanted nothing to do with what was mainstream.

For me, that all changed in 2006. Shift happens. And I’ve been trying to shift the future closer to the present ever since (chewahh). I like calling the work as work made for us #InTheNotSoDistantFuture.

Anyway, I’m talking too much (crap). Enjoy the showreel. It’s a variety of projects I was involved with since 2006. Some integrated, some purely digital. Some experiments and prototypes. And a few odd ones. Win or learn. They all meant something significant to me, looking back. You can see more over at my (soon to be updated — hopefully/can’t promise) showcase.

Cheers.

Music credit: Straight Outta Compton remix by Kid606