Hackernoon logoFlash was the future. by@CraigSwann

Flash was the future.

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@CraigSwannCraig Swann

Adobe just announced the end-of-life plans for Flash. For many of us it is a day that brings with it a sense of nostalgia, yearning and loss. To many people late to the web, and a new, younger generation of creators it means very little — possibly a “good riddance”. But, to the web’s first generation of trailblazers it’s an important, possibly sad, day.

It is, for me, anyways.

Flash changed the Internet. I’d dare say it set the tone for what it could and should be.

Before Flash there was next to nothing you could inherently do, ubiquitously, on the web. Sure there was some bastard child version of Javascript, Shockwave and emerging attempts with Dynamic HTML — but until Flash the web was a very still place — and for me especially — rather quiet.

Most of what people take for granted as experiences and interfaces on the web today were born through Flash. Developed by a generation of young, curious, creative, inspired people. Artists, film-makers, musicians and poets. Many, if not most, non-coders. A tool was made available and there was a global platform to express ourselves. We took advantage of that and carved our ideas into the digital zeitgeist. From bouncing gradient balls (aka Matinee and Gabocorp) to full fledged rich applications — with a side of Strong Bad — Flash was our paintbrush and the web our canvas.

Flash was the future.

It allowed me to create the Internet’s first website with a drag-n-drop interface. Create Looplabs, the web’s first virtual music studio (Ironically, Steve Jobs, who played a key role in killing Flash used Looplabs during his keynote when launching Safari to show how powerful it was). Track Ben Saunders on his solo-expedition to the North Pole via an iPaq and satellite phone. Accept a Flashforward award remotely via video before there was Skype. Make music controllers from remote control cars. Play with computer vision, physical computing, real time collaboration, accelerometers, data visualization, Internet of things, voice navigation and so much more well before it was common place.

Flash was our interactive swiss-army knife.

For me, like many others, Flash provided a platform to explore new interactive concepts, explorations, experiments and prototypes of the future. We were an open community. We shared our ideas. Our code. Non-stop. When I think of all the people I met simply because of Flash and where they are now — and what they are doing — it puts a smile on my face.

Remember RunDMC at Flashforward NYC? Parliament Funkadelic in SanFran? OFFF? NMUF? Osmosis? The spirit of punk and DIY and the Unconference concept itself were part of the DNA of the Flash Community.

Flash was responsible for me becoming an author, traveling the world speaking and sharing ideas and helping to build and shape community through events like Flux and Osmosis and establishing FITC as Canada’s design and technology voice.

I’ve seen the world. Met incredible people and touched millions of people, from across the world, through a plug-in.

I owe a lot to Flash. Gonna miss you buddy.

P.S. Would love to capture thoughts in the comments and keep a conversation going. Hit the heart, share with a Flash nerd and share how Flash changed your life below.


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