Monday, February 11, 2008

Busy little Devil

Your humble Devil has been very busy of late, working on a whole load of projects. Typically, of course, he is also deeply skint as the stockmarket tumbles and the crappy month for all freelancers that is December works its hideous way through my financial system.

One of the minor projects that your humble Devil has been working on is a total redesign for Andrew Ian Dodge. It's not just his blog, but also a CD cover and a book cover (both of which will be posted here in due course).

This has been a lot of fun as it means that I get paid for doing artwork rather than writing code; but, hell's teeth, I have realised that I am really rusty, especially on vector drawing technique.

But Andrew likes my style, which is why he asked me to do the stuff, and seems pleased. I would like to do a lot more of this kind of work but, alas, many people do not seem to go for the "dark and gothy" look!

I am hoping to get to the end of this particular work cycle by the end of this week, and then I will be able to have a bit more practice. I still strive for the greatness of Dave McKean...

I have also been working on an expanded site for my oldest client; I have been working (in one guise or another) with Walker Slater for over a decade now, and we are now working on expanding their site into a fully fledged collections portfolio and online shop (although this is still in development). As those who know me in the flesh will testify, it is rare to see me out of a suit—and they are all Walker Slater suits. I recommend them: they have shops in Edinburgh's Old Town and in London's Parson's Green.

Through MessageSpace Creative (MS://C), I have also been working, with Mike Rouse, on a few other sites. John Redwood's rather excellent blog has had a few tweaks made to it, and David Amess's blog is ready to go (though he has yet to posting in earnest).

WebCommons has had something of a makeover (mirroring MSC) although I still haven't found the time to devote enough resources to it yet—however, Mike and I have plans to expand it quite substantially. However, you might find that the MPs' blogs feed is quite useful: I know that I do.

MS://C have also rolled out a new site for Conservative PPC, Shaun Bailey. It looks nice enough, but the back-end requirements that Hammersmith Conservatives set us compelled me really to stretch Website Baker (my CMS of choice) far beyond what I had previously done with it. And generally, this little known Content Management System responded admirably: it's incredibly powerful once you learn how to exploit its potential.

Other MS://C projects that we have completed in the last couple of months include a revamp of Shane Greer's blog, Tory Radio and the Young Britons' Foundation; we have also rolled out Forward Together, Havant Conservatives, Derbyshire PPC Heather Wheeler's blog and the website for James Cleverly's new venture, Point and Fire Media.

As you can see, we have been busy. And those are only the sites that we have completed: we have some other major ones that we are currently working on.

However, you may have noticed that many of these sites have a certain flavour to them: LabourHome commenters certainly have.
EOS also own Message Space Creative Ltd as a subsidiary. This complex also does work for Tory Radio, and thru Mike Rouse/MessageSpace Creative Ltd used to be involved with, and created John Redwood's website. Mike Rouse is/was Head of Technology for the the very Tory Young Britons' Foundation. There is more, but you get the gist.

Indeed we do, but I can't help feeling that rwendland is trying to draw sinister parallels where there are none. The fact is that our leads and contacts tend to be on the right of the political spectrum and so that is where our work tends to come from.

Matt Wardman has a good stab at explaining the separation between work and personal politics.
I get the impression that you're putting conspiracy theories into a couple of areas where a conspiracy doesn't exist.

Most of the relationships in the "complex" don't compromise anyone. In particular I'd suggest that Jas S, Mike R and Alex H (and Chris M - the Devil - who you don't mention) are quite able to separate professional IT (MS + MS Creative) work from political arguments, I'd make the same comment re: Guido where business is concerned. They wouldn't bother to waste the time and take the risk of confusing the two.

The facts about who hosts who's websites are professional arrangements. Are you going to go for Tim Ireland because he's been hosting Boris Johnson's blog for about 4 or 5 years? After all, BJ has perhaps had more of a kicking on LH than Guido. In that light, can Tim possibly have clean political hands?

I'd suggest yes, because he's an IT professional just like the others.

This is, of course, entirely correct: we money-grubbing, evil, capitalist right-wingers are happy to take anyone's money and what their personal politics are makes no difference to us. Mike and I would be more than happy to do websites for Labour or LibDem MPs, associations, councillors or whomever.

However, it so happens that our links are on the right and there are very many left-wingers who also build websites. Jon Worth, for instance, has built a number of Labour sites (and no right-wing ones that I know of) and I am sure that the fact that he is involved in the Labour movement has helped him to gain those contacts. I certainly don't think that there is any kind of conspiracy behind it and nor do I resent him his business (sure, I think that were we to talk politics we would probably strangle one another, but if we stuck to tech talk I think we'd get along).

Business is business and politics is politics: one should not stand in the way of the other. Fundamentally, for the moment, politics is a hobby and I still need to pay my rent: if I get to the point where I can afford to turn customers away because I don't agree with their beliefs, then I'll let you all know. And I will invite you round for a big fucking party.

Until that time, I will happily take the money of whoever wants to hire me, I will do a damn good job for them and I shall continue to pursue my own personal beliefs in the rest of my time.

Oh, and that includes calling those at LabourHome a bunch of paranoid, conspiracy-theory wankers. Next!


Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Then there are the t-shirts and mugs...:) I urge anyone that hires DK to do their design to let him exercise is imagination. Its pretty neat what he comes up with.

Jon Worth said...

Spot on with the analysis about the sites I'm doing. Yes, I'm a member of the Labour Party, and I have used contacts as a result of that to get paid website work - eventually. It's taken many years of trying to build up a portfolio of Labour sites - I built the first political site back in 2000.

It's not a good business model though - it's involved a hell more work than the income would justify. If MPs are starting to get twitchy about who they employ they won't find anything awry with my sites - I'm a self employed person, invoices are issued, and the prices paid are very competitive.

I would not categorically rule out doing website work for other parties, but one of the joys of being a freelancer is that I can choose who I work for... So UKIP is out.

It's just that basically all the work I do as a freelancer is thanks to personal contacts - I don't remember ever having been given any work by another route. I know a lot of people on the left - I do (I hope) a decent job for them, so more people then trust me to do more. It's quite simple.

Plus, for all the political sites, I don't think any of them know I'm actually more of a political geek than a computer geek by background - it's a professional service that's offered.

Hope that makes things a bit clearer!

(P.S. Have never used Website Baker - will have a look)

Anonymous said...

What DK and Jon both point out is absolutely true. There is no conspiracy, it's just the people we happen to know who want to use us to build their websites.

Like Jon, I too had to slog it out building sites in the early part of the decade and it's been a tough fight to build up the portfolio to where it is today and to be able to get MessageSpace Creative Limited off the ground. We are tied in with MessageSpace/EOS because it is a relationship that makes sense and, I hope it not remiss of me to say, the folk there have been mighty kind to us.

I dare say that if Jon, DK and I were to sit down we would find our tech experiences to be very similar despite coming from different party backgrounds.

And Jon is also spot on when he shares his experience of having to put more work in than the income justifies - my god this is so true for us at this end of the spectrum too.

So, basically, we work bloody hard for a heck of a lot less than we could expect from private sector clients and could really do without conspiracy theories.

Anonymous said...

Website Baker is excellent and I claim my ten pounds for introducing the Devil to it.

BTW do you use FCKeditor as the wysiwyg editor?

Pete (who soon won't be in Dunbar at all)

Devil's Kitchen said...

I do, indeed, use the FCK Editor: far superior to HTML Area.


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