Christopher Fahey [askrom] on Fri, 19 Apr 2002 14:50:26 +0200 (CEST)

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Zak wrote:
> > The seemingly endless backlash against Flash can, in many ways, be
> > traced to a simple dislike for the "Flash aesthetic" or the
> > predominance of that aesthetic. 
> Rubbish. The backlash against Flash is more to do with its inherent
> un-openness and baulky, unwieldy, proprietary specification. 

"Rubbish"?!? Simmer down there, pilgrim, this ain't a debate over the
Middle East, it's just a file format. Anyway, please note that:
   "in many ways" != "the sole reason"

The usability issues inherent in most Flash implementations is a very
familiar debate to me, and one that I deliberately sidestepped because
it was not relevant to the *aesthetic* issues Lev was discussing in his
essay. But since you opened up that Pandora's box...

> Along with
> a host of really unbelievable shortcomings like bookmarking/linking
> issues, searching issues etc. 

Shortcomings that are quite easy to overcome by good Flash site
designers. Shortcomings that, in fact, are almost as prevalent on
HTML-based sites. The fact that IT professionals and site designers
don't know how to make Flash behave well (all too typical of how
entrenched, defensive IT professionals think: "I don't know it so it
must suck"), or don't care to learn how (i.e., how
experimental/entertainment-oriented developers think: "It's extraneous
to my showiness, so fuck it"), doesn't mean that Flash can't do it. Your
perception of Flash's limitations are underinformed and clouded by some
sort of resentment.

> It is in fact a testiment to the
> shallowness of our society, one more concerned with form than 
> function,

One person's "shallowness" is another person's commitment to beauty and
elegance. It is just as shallow to think that function trumps form: both
are valid approaches in different contexts. Plenty of artwork has no
function beyond the raw display of aesthetic form. This is a good thing,
and in fact it is one of the things that makes life worth living. 

> what size a singer's breasts or biceps are than what they sound like,
> and cars that look good but drive badly that Flash has gained the
> following it has. Flash is what we would have if Darwinism was about
> looks rather than about ability. 

It is common among many animals, and birds in particular, that the
specimens with the greatest superficial beauty are the most likely to
procreate. Often this beauty is tied to it's physical health (symmetry,
size, etc), but often beauty is just beauty. Darwinism does not solely
produce structures of functional value. 

> Flash also is dangerous for these same reasons, coupled to 
> its alarming rise in popularity. 

I am alarmed by your hopefully hyperbolic use of the word "alarming"...
Does Flash really "alarm" you?

> Due to its severe limitiations, it is 
> very difficult to interoperate with, either by automated scripts and 
> autonomous agaents
> or by people with disabilites or people who don't use GUI interfaces.

Again, a good designer/programmer can easily make a Flash site do
everything a robust non-flash site does, and even more. A well designed
site can easily separates the GUI from the content - the automated
scripts you speak of can certainly access a site's data regardless of
the GUI. 

Also, lots of things can be hard to use by people with disabilities, for
example oil paintings, tennis rackets, newspapers, quicktime movies, and
over 95% of HTML-based web sites. Just because you havent learned how to
do it doesn't mean it can't be done (or even that it's not easy to do).

> Flash has the ability to set the web back 4 years or more, to a time
> when proprietary systems and non-interoperability where the 
> order of the day.

I find this part hilarious. You are the one who is apparently advocating
that we stick with an outdated, crippled system of displaying and
processing information over the internet (page-based HTML) and not
bother to learn how to learn to use powerful new tools to make usable
and elegant new interactive business interfaces and art works. 


This guy you link to is living in 1997, or in some kind of alternate
dream world where the web is a magical land of total freedom from
corporate control. Using SVG is like speaking Esperanto to spite the
hegemony of the nation-state system - a noble but totally futile
gesture, and a waste of time for everyone from big businesses to
individual artists. This might change, of course, but as of now I don't
know anyone at all, or any web site at all, that works in SVG. I would
have tried, but the 1-megabyte plug in download pretty much ruled it out
for me.


[christopher eli fahey]

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