As a front-end technologist, I love to work in an environment where a strong design team challenges its technology counterpart and where technology on its turn is able to inspire design.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Hello, my name is Bobby van der Sluis. I am a Technical Experience Director at Blast Radius in Amsterdam. Most people will know me as the SWFObject guy, the popular Flash embed library I co-authored.
What do you do for inspiration?
I always try to keep a broad interest in the things around me. Inspiration then usually comes by itself.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Google (search, Gmail, Reader), YouTube and Amazon.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
That I've always pursued the things I was most interested in or passionate about.
How many hours do you work each week?
Enough, but does it really matter? There can be a big difference between working hard and working many hours. It's more important to have the right attitude. Also, I believe that people who have a balanced social-professional life and keep themselves fit are usually the most effective.
How do you relax or unwind?
Just by spending time with my family and friends. I'm a father of two young kids and it's a nice contrast to see how simple and honest the world can be when you look at it from their perspective.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Sometimes I wish for creating a more physical and long-lasting end product, like a building or a bridge. In the digital world, a lot of our hard work just fades away too quickly.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
I love working together with other smart and passionate people from multiple disciplines. I'm convinced that in today's industry you can only create successful projects with good teamwork. The hardest part is to get the right people on board and build great teams.
What software could you not live without?
A web browser, a good text editor and Photoshop.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
The web is one of the biggest opportunities of our time. When I started my career it was an emerging medium. When I will retire it may possibly only have reached its full potential. For me, it's fun to stay on the cutting edge of things and see how the medium itself slowly changes our society, including the way we use traditional media. Media convergence is an ongoing process, and within the media industry, the required skill sets overlap more often, so I don't think it's strange that people cross borders.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
Last year I helped creating Stanislav, which ended up to be the biggest online viral in Dutch history. It's funny that clients sometimes walk in and ask you to create a viral for them, because it's the one request that you simply cannot fulfill. Virals usually just happen, you cannot predict them. That's also the reason why a lot of projects that attempt to create a viral just flop.
In this particular case, all puzzle pieces just fell together. The concept was spot on, the film director had a great approach, and the technical production was seamless (we produced a very realistic dynamic personalized movie). It was also the first time someone tried to achieve this on Hyves (the Dutch variant of Facebook). It was a project for the Dutch government about privacy, while the way we used the social media by itself started a large online discussion about privacy.
Within one day Stanislav was discussed everywhere: online, in all the national newspapers and on television. Within a week we had to take the campaign offline, because almost every active Hyves user was reached and to avoid the forwarded messages being perceived as spam. In the aftermath, we also collected a lot of industry awards, including 4 Cannes Lions.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
In the coming years, Flash will stay dominant for the use of rich media, but after that it will slowly fade away, unless Adobe can lead it into new directions.
We already see a declined demand for Flash work. A lot of big companies - especially the ones that have excessively used Flash in the past - have learned some hard lessons about poor accessibility and SEO. Also, the popularity of Apple's iOS-based devices and the advent of more powerful web browsers that include HTML5 and CSS3 are a cause for this descend.
The first area where Flash will loose its grip will be in the casual online video market (YouTube, etc.), which will inevitably be dominated by HTML5 video. Also, many Flash developers (including myself) are taking their existing skills to a new level and are learning new languages like Objective-C, HTML5 or Java.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
We always keep our eyes open for smart and passionate people. If you think that you've got talent, just show it. The web is the perfect place for exhibitionism. Also, learn by getting your hands dirty. Work hard and have fun while you do it.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
A while back I saw Iron Man 2, and man, that suit just rocks! Imagine using that to commute to work. It would definitely change my daily life.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Everything is happening online right now. Just read blogs, tweets and online magazines, and examine other people's code. The web is pretty much 'view source'.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
I feel that the digital world is really a global community in which nations are an old-fashioned paradigm.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
A famous photographer once said that from a certain stage in his career he realized that in order to improve his work he first would have to become a more interesting person. That has always stuck with me, because it is so true.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
It was my pleasure, thank you!