FLASH PRESERVATION PROJECTS

Photographs courtesy of SDTIMES.com

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Following a 21-year run, popular media player plug in Adobe Flash will no longer receive official support and updates. Once a ubiquitous piece of software, Flash helped bring videos and games to the Internet but its ubiquity has made it an easy target for hackers, leaving most tech companies to abandon it. For most casual Internet users, this change will not cause any major halts to common services. The early announcement of this change allowed major developers ample time to switch any Flash-based elements to plug-in less technologies like HTML5. While this change does not pose any threat to major parts of the web, it could mean the death of some classic pieces of Internet history.

While videos, GIFs and memes will survive, classic Flash-based browser games like Fancy Pants Adventures could disappear. Some Flash games have already been saved by the initiative of their host sites. Gradeschool computer lab staple Cool Math Games has already updated their backlog but they remain an unfortunate outlier. Numerous old Flash games have not received support from host sites or their developers, which has led to some disappearances. With that in mind, some devoted and nostalgic fans have created an emulation program called Flashpoint. Developed by Martin Brickmann, Flashpoint offers Windows and Linux users a convenient and simple workaround to other proposed methods of preservation. Thanks to the diligent work of contributors, the project is constantly adding new games. Even games that have anti-piracy restrictions or server requirements in play are being ported to the platform.

Flashpoint has covered a big portion of Flash preservation, but there are still some gaps in coverage. One of the most prominent examples comes from the popular interactive webcomic Homestuck. First released in 2009, this genre bending work of fiction stood out for its use of Flash animation pages and browser games. Following the initial Flash takedown, many of these animations were replaced with YouTube captures of the originals, but this solution does not display these pages as they were originally intended. Whether or not this work will receive similar preservation is unclear, but this should serve as a case study on the way media can easily disappear with time.