November 04, 2019

Flash Gordon and the Ministry of Truth

Actually it's just Flash and the Ministry of Truth.
And to be honest any resemblance to the MoT is pure speculation on my part.
So were going to blame* Pixy for the stupid post title because he used a Flash Gordon pun when he linked to this post over at the Google Dev blog boasting about how they are going to put Flash (the animation program, not the planet hopping baseball player) to bed. For some reason the anonymous Hangul-proficient blogger is smug about it.

IT and cybersecurity are not at all in my wheelhouse, but I understand that there are some security issues with Macromedia Flash, so there might be some technical justification for this decision. However no such reason is mentioned anywhere in this announcement. There is this though...

  Flash was the answer to the boring static web, with rich animations, media, and actions. It was a prolific technology that inspired many new content creators on the web. It was everywhere. The Flash runtime, which plays Flash content, was installed 500 million times in the second half of 2013.  I still remember my son playing endless number of Flash games until my wife yelled at him. It's time to go to bed, son. Hey Flash, it's your turn to go to bed. 


It goes on to mention that anything using flash will no longer be visible via Google Search and they seem inordinately pleased with themselves about this loss of functionality, so much so that it got me to thinking about "chocolate rations" and since NO technical reason was given I find myself focusing on what they did say seems to make little sense. Let's review: "Flash YAY! Wonderful tool Yay!" We're cancelling it! Yaaaay! Oh, and we're totally your momma." Or further contexualized and simplified..."Derp!"


So now we've got to read between the lines, which is always fraught.

We see them note that Flash opened up the web and was intimately associated with an era of intense creativity, However,  sifting through the white pixels we note that what is not said is that this growth was driven by amateurs and people who came from the outside who were generally un-credentialed but talented and brought about a vast and disruptive age of change that Google is now trying to tamp down on.

There are a lot of Flash games and a lot of sites still use flash, some of them quite worthy ones. These will soon be lost, at least to those who don't maintain specific browsers. However, the Flash games are not done by the big companies, and the use of flash is a hallmark of an earlier era, one characterized above all by irreverence and freedom that Google/Alphabet would very much like to close the door on. The sorts of sites that use Flash, and the sorts of ideas presented in many of those animations are the sorts of knowledge that Google and their ilk would just as soon purge, if they make those sites unsearchable, they will have done so.

Now. It is important to appreciate, or at least assume that people one disagrees with do not, as a rule, share their motivations with Snidely Whiplash, or some Captain Planet villain sitting in their headquarters cackling that "Today..I will be EEEEVIL!" However, I find it hard nowadays, at least with with Google, to not ascribe their actions to malice.

So...


There are IT people who frequent this site.

Please explain in small words to this Bachelor of History why Google's decision is a solid one from an IT perspective and does not actually serve to erase a big swath of knowledge and history from the 'net. For bonus points explain why what appeared to be sadistic and patronizing glee is justified and appropriate.



*Note: This does not constitute any actual evidence of causation or responsibility on the part of Pixy Misa. Pixy is merely being blamed.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 03:47 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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