Remember Flash? Of course you remember Flash. If you wanted to watch video on the internet, it was the irritation you had to put up, like trailers for a M. Night Shyamalan movie before a movie you actually want to see.
Now that we’re living in a post-Flash world, sites using the plug-in account for 11 percent, down from a high of 28 percent. Which is great news, unless your job is archiving the internet.
The problem is that Flash wasn’t just used for videos. It was used for gaming, audio and even web design of an entire site (and it’s still popular, for some reason, with restaurants websites). In addition, different sites used different versions of Flash, which meant that it wasn’t necessarily compatible with other versions — older and newer — because of security holes, patches and different issues with different browsers.
All of which is causing a headache for online archivists. As in, the kind of headache from having to actually watch the M. Night Shyamalan film instead of just watching the trailer. Developers attempted to hide Flash files and if there were multiple Flash files on the site, they needed to work together in a manner that wasn’t standardized.
Despite the challenges, archivists believe Flash will survive as an artifact, hopefully never to be found again and kept in that huge, anonymous warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (which was not directed by M. Night Shyamalan).