The Grunge Age of Interactive

Let’s face it. The web is relatively mundane…

There was a time when the web was mysterious and new, almost dangerous. It was the ’90′s. The web was going to change the world, and the possibilities were endless. The tools at the hands of the creators were simple and crude, and the drive to create something much greater than the sum of its parts was a huge element of what drove us. It was like being in a rock band. You get some guitars, amps and drums in a garage, and you set out to make something epic. On the web, you take simple code and compressed images, and you make something elegant and interactive.

Also much like music, it quickly became all about the money, and both the newness and mysteriousness of the web wore off. The quality of the web mattered much less than its profitability, and the magic of just making the web faded.

A star is born…

It was on this stage that Flash grabbed the spotlight. Flash was the first true rock star of the web. It was smooth and scalable. In a static online world, it moved and tweened. Pretty soon it had audio and video. It was money and magic. It was awesome.

Flash then spent the next decade in the spotlight getting fat and bloated, taking on features and extras. Critics would point out the flaws and potential pitfalls, but it couldn’t be bothered. It was Flash. It ignored the trends. It ignored its critics. It ignored helpful guidance and advice from its fans. Why? Because it was Flash, and it was the star of the show.

Blinded by the spotlight…

However, something unexpected happened to Flash. The whole time it was busy being the rock star, some geeks kept hammering away at the actual technology that supports the web (html, css and javascript). Now, seemingly out of nowhere, you have jQuery, and this technology can do almost everything Flash can do. Only it can do it faster, more efficiently and without plug-ins. It degrades nicely for users who can’t support it for whatever reason. It’s standards-compliant, and it’s naturally search engine friendly.

jQuery has all of the energy and none of the baggage.

Now Flash is left standing on stage like an overweight, burned out, spandex-sporting, glam-metal god. It’s whining about the new trendsetting devices that won’t support it, and it doesn’t understand why all of its fans have left. Flash should keep hope though. I’m sure there’s a county fair out there in need of a website.

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