You need to see this web site

I was poking around through some resources and came across this website called  You really need to take a look at it.  I’ll wait here.

Wasn’t that awesome?  What an interesting approach to dealing with information!  … extremely visual… extremely interactive…

What makes this especially cool is that this site is driven by OpenLaszlo, the open-source, Rich Internet Application platform.  I’m running Firefox on Linux and it worked just fine for me.  Of course, there are some issues with a site like this.  OpenLaszlo uses the Flash player to operate, and so it is only available in environments where Adobe is supporting a Flash plugin.  (For example, the site does not work on my Droid right now.)  There are some open-source alternative flash players, but these are fairly fledgling projects and likely suffer from trying to recreate rather than to create.  It would be interesting to see if standards around RIA evolve to the point that there are more solid choices in this arena.

Another issue with is accessibility.  As a user, I am blessed to be able to ignore such issues.  My eyesight is good enough and I can click around with no problem.  However, as an editor I’ve become painfully aware of these issues and the potential impact that they can have for users.  As a sort of eye-candy site, is not necessarily intended to be accessible, and someone with special needs may not really be missing out on anything that they would find valuable.  However, if this was a commercial site the designer would have been leaving out a chunk of his audience who might provide business.  He’d probably be in violation of some laws as well.  It’s a difficult problem where technology is both a savior and an obstacle.

Yet, I admit that I would really like some of my work to feel more like what I saw on that web site.  I like the almost tactile nature of grabbing things.  I know that it’s probably not for the masses, but I would prefer an environment that wasn’t all about shoving a little arrow around the screen all the time.

Is the future?  Who knows.  The designer has used his skills to help build other OpenLaszlo-based sites.  Maybe there is a new world around the corner.

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