In defence of Flash. Make it ‘open source’ for SWF’s sake!

Thanks to the help from the support team at my web hosting company SiteGround I finally got WordPress 5 to allow me to upload and display my Flash SWF files… If you see the text “Please Install Flash To support this animation” instead of an animated ‘Tape Cassette’, then please set your browser to allow Flash for this website (menantol.co.uk). That’s assuming you already have the Flash plugin installed in your browser.

WordPress, by default, disables SWF upload for security reasons! Hang on a moment! I write my own flash so I know what goes in it. People who come to my site might want to view my flash animations so where is the security issue? My Web hosting service supports the SWF format and has no issue with delivering such content it and neither should WordPress.

Please Install Flash To support this animation.

This kind of throttling – i.e preventing (or making things bloody difficult for) people from using well established file formats such as SWF (with its inherent creative functionality and power of Flash) for ‘security reasons’ is just indicative of the state of today’s Orwellian World. Telling people how and what they can and can’t use on an open source product like WordPress is frankly hypocritical. “Oh the benevolence of saving us from ourselves” It’s my website… so I decide what can and can’t go on it. As my flash animations are created malware free by me then argument isn’t even an argument… For the real truth of the matter, read on!

In defence of Flash

The two arguments against Flash were 1. it was memory hungry and 2. a platform for executing malicious code. Frankly all this was diversionary. I used Flash from the 1990s, never had malware issues, no system crashes, no problems with memory issues. The only pain was the constant updateds of browser plugin. The REAL ISSUE was that Flash was a proprietary Adobe product, and with their FLV and SWF formats Adobe had virtually wrapped up the digital creative market on the web much to the annoyance of Steve Jobs.

OK so Flash isn’t the most efficient system as it uses the computer CPU rather than being contained within the browser like HTML5 and WebGL. And yes some malicious bastard out there will exploit its vulnerabilities in order to exploit users, just like any psycopathic human being would in any walk of life. It’s all very well for Technobods to blog their opinions about early (headache inducing) adoption of technologies and how everything old must go, and for programming technonerds to espouse the latest cool ideas ..BUT.. if they actually were digital creatives (doers) rather than bloggers ( or should that be blaggers) talking about it.. what alternative solution do you have for such a flexible animation tool that handles vector and raster graphics so well, hmm…. oh and, by the way, modern computers have gigabytes of memory and fast processors so the memory hogging argument against Flash is just more ‘bollocks’. The knives were out and Steve Jobs had the biggest and sharpest. He also had the biggest and sharpest agenda. Yet again another great solution will eventually get consigned to the history books like another extinct lifeform as the “Internet of new Ideas and new Products races forward into the future shedding most of its best ideas and good intentions”. Flash brought animated creativity and design into the realms of ordinary visually artistic and creative people, who are more concerned with getting ideas across than on the technical underbelly and any programmatic obnoxiousness necessary to achieve it. Creativity is mostly right brain thinking brought into the left brain by such products as Flash. It’s a shame that people ‘talk’ from the position of a closed, self referential left brain ( See the classic text: Iain MCGilChrists book The Master and his Emissary.

So now If Adobe made Flash open source, the world could benefit from its massive legacy and the content that has been created over the last 25 years or so, and also be able to continue to use it. I don’t think it is mere chance that Adobe took the opportunity to change their business model to a very expensive ‘cloud rental platform’ at the same time that they updated Flash into Animate CC, dispensing with FLV and SWF in favour of open source HTML5 and losing their virtual monopoly on animated/video web format file creation.

As we roll forward it will be too easy to delete and rewrite the digital history and legacies of the Internet, as well as lose technologies crushed under the same wheel that the Markets incessently need to keep reinventing!

The winners of all wars, whether physical, mental, or spiritual write their own version of history to justify their position and their version of the ‘truth’. Not only is history modifiable, but the alternative versions of the truth held by the losers get erased. Some Darwinist would tritely say that “extinction is a fact of evolution…” We all know where that argument leads!