Your Guide to

Inventor Dan Zen

Image for post
Image for post
Well, if all the drones have tickets, maybe we should get one too!
Poster for the Dan Zen Expo of 52 exhibits

The Dan Zen Museum is the latest digital interface to the award winning Inventor’s online creations and 52 exhibits in the Dan Zen Expo. The museum also includes formation, creativity, biography, philosophy, coding and marketing tours. This guide will introduce the Museum and the life of Dan Zen.

Draggable map for the Dan Zen Museum with 52 Expo exhibits

Background

The Museum was created for the Half Century Celebration Red Carpet Extravaganza in March 2014. Zen invited friends to a party at the Staircase Theater in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. At the party he presented his physical inventions, launched the digital site and gave talks all while wearing a broken pair of glasses he had wired that day with a coat-hanger arm. He is pointing to the fix in the picture below.

Zen with one way medallion at the extravaganza
Invite for the Dan Zen Half Century Celebration Red Carpet Extravaganza

In one impromptu moment, Zen, the number one psychedelic dancer in the world according to Google, was asked to demonstrate! Around him, some party-goers had been fanning themselves with Zen clouds so he asked them to move in and as luck would have it — a psychedelic song was playing.

Dan Zen psychedelic dancing in the clouds

The video of the event begins backwards. If you can make it through this then we get to see the inventions, the talks and even the dancing in the clouds!

Just skip forward to the demonstrations and talks if you want

The Museum Site

Let’s take you through the original 2014 Dan Zen Museum site. Dan Zen has been going since 1996 through a half dozen major redesigns. The site has provided millions of hours of entertainment with a hundred thousand pages in ten thousand folders made by one mad Inventor. And yet, the Museum’s original face was an experimental set of steps.

Steps of the Dan Zen Museum

The loading screen is a set of white dots animating from the bottom to the top. Once the dots reach the top the steps appear. Along with being an indicator for loading, these dots are a metaphor for travel. We are arriving at the steps.

At the steps there is no scrollbar, almost no text and yet this is the intro to twenty years of work — what could go wrong! Why don’t you go there now and see if you can figure it out.

Well, probably you at least pressed on the drone. At that point the Dan Zen drone describes how you can scroll up the stairs to find the ticket to the Museum. You can talk to the drones along the way and their stories are filled with hyperlinks (ooo). Did you manage to scroll the steps? Leave us a note!

The steps were made with the new HTML 5 Canvas tag using the CreateJS library. Zen has spent his time since the Museum extending CreateJS into ZIM — see ◎ Your Guide to Coding Creativity on the Canvas.

Find a big ticket to enter the Museum

Note that all the drones are carrying a ticket to get into the Museum. The ticket has the Dan Zen totem logo which spells DAN going up and ZEN going down. Each iteration of the Dan Zen site has a variation of the signature — these signatures can be found throughout the Museum to represent the different interfaces.

Dan Zen totem signatures
Image for post
Image for post

Pressing the ticket will take you to a Tour or Explore choice. Note that the way back to the steps is a little icon that looks like the steps. The information icon takes us to the screen below. These pages fade out and fade in — not usual in a Web page but mandatory in older CD ROM features.

Image for post
Image for post

The little drones are shown entering into the tube elevators to tour the brain of Dan Zen and exiting out the other side.

Drones entering the brain of Dan Zen!

Tours

Back in the Tour section we have the formation, creativity, biography, philosophy, coding and marketing tours.

Image for post
Image for post

Note the dots again to indicate travel. This continues as we go in to each tour. As this guide is about Dan Zen, we may as well go into the Biography Tour as a an example. These are long scrolling pages broken into rooms organized by topic. The ROOMS button opens up links to jump directly to rooms. The dots are there to show travel from one room to another.

Biography

Born in Hawaii and living among the Hippies an historical look at the physical inventions leading into digital creations.

Birth, Nature vs Nurture, Creating
Creating and Influences
Family, Career, Culture

As you can see, it is quite a well documented tour. When we leave the tour we are always directed back to the TOUR or EXPLORE page. This is on purpose as Zen does not really want you spending time on tours but would rather you get to the hundred Dan Zen features on the Explore page!

We would be remiss if we did not feature at least one picture from each tour. Oh my, can we pick? Let’s give it a go. [edit — had to pick two each [edit — and add an intro]] Of course you are welcome to pop in to the tours at your leisure and have a giggle, gasp or at least a good gander.

Formation

The early days (1995–2000) of Dan Zen and the Internet where Zen pioneered interactive mysteries, AI multiuser sci-fi, Social Media, Web mail and more.

Dan Zen posters from the Formation Tour
Early Dan Zen mystery, Utopia from the Formation Tour

Creativity

Thoughts on creativity and examples of creative output. Also see ◎ Your Guide to the Mechanics of Creativity.

Opartica — op art tool from the Creativity Tour
Sketches for apps from the Creativity Tour

Philosophy

Actually entitled Nodism. The Dan Zen philosophy that helped for the Creativity Framework. See also Your Guide to the Philosophy of Nodism. (article to come)

Circle in Circle symbol of Nodism from Philosophy Tour
Page from Creativity Framework from Philosophy Tour

Coding

A layman’s introduction to coding along with languages, examples and awards. Also see ◎ Your Guide to Coding Creativity on the Canvas.

Interactive demonstration from Coding Tour
Dan Zen Programmer of the Year award from Coding Tour

Marketing

Zen coined the term Interactive Advertising as it was not found in Web Crawler — the Google of the day. He pioneered viral marketing and guerilla marketing, micro transactions and shareware.

Viral marketing game hit Silicon Valley from Marketing Tour
Touchy on Dragons’ Den from Marketing Tour

Explore Dan Zen

Image for post
Image for post
The Kirputnik Conveyor delivers Dan Zen features

No Museum would be complete without a classification system. In the Explore Section, Zen categorizes features alphabetically, chronologically and by topic. Features are delivered by the Kirputnik Conveyour — Kirputnik being the Dan Zen robot Webmaster. If things went wrong as Dan Zen sent out Telepathy (his newsletter to 25,000 subscribers) then Kirputnik was blamed.

Each feature has a picture (created for the Dan Zen Deck of Creations interface), an icon, a short description, whether the feature is mobile ready, a link button and an info link which expands more information describing the feature and its context in time.

Image for post
Image for post
Gobstop Game Feature from Explore

Conclusion

This has been a guide to Inventor Dan Zen by being a guide to the Dan Zen Museum. Please enjoy visiting the many sections and try out some of the features in the Explore Section.

There are many stories we have missed out. You may find some on the Dan Zen YouTube channel. Here is the Tales from the Purple Box playlist:

Thank you for taking the time to tour with us. If you are interested in how Zen has created please see ◎ Your Guide to the Mechanics of Creativity and anyone can at least see if they might like to code such magic — see ◎ Your Guide to Coding Creativity on the Canvas.

All the best,

Dr Abstract

Image for post
Image for post

Written by

Inventor, Founder of ZIM JavaScript Canvas Framework and Nodism, Professor of Interactive Media at Sheridan, Canadian New Media Awards Programmer and Educator

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store