The Best Thing On The Internet Right Now

So after a particularly frustrating day of having Flash-based content crash my browser, I finally buckled under and succumbed to the recommendation of my old business partner Tim Smith and downloaded a little, free Mac Safari plugin called “ClickToFlash“.

ClickToFlash is a simple tool that blocks Flash content in the Safari browser and replaces it with a pleasant, ignorable graphic.  And if you choose to click the ignorable graphic – the Flash movie loads normally.  Simple.

But why would the average person want it?  Most advocates will tell you because it will significantly reduce browser crashing.  Which it does.  But there is something else.  Something I found infinitely more satisfying.

I’d resisted ClickToFlash previously because I thought, at the time, I wouldn’t want to miss out on all those cool experiences, those grey boxes would probably annoy me, and any extra clicking would degrade my experience.

Was I ever wrong on all counts.

ClickToFlash has made surfing the web a pleasant – no, a delightful experience.

The surprise came when I landed on my first page, a news site, which I was fairly sure had no Flash content on it anyway.  Naturally when I landed I saw the article, but what surprised me was what I didn’t see.  What I didn’t see – were ADS.  Just a nice clean page and the content I wanted.

I went to another site, and another, and the obvious realization kicked in that most of the prominently positioned, above the fold and therefore expensive to place ads on the web today are Flash-based (read: sexiest and therefor deserving of being in the expensive locations).

At that moment, with great thrill, I realized ClickToFlash might just as well have been named “ClickToBeAnnoyedByAdvertising.”

Ah… control.  This is what Interactive media is supposed to be!  In an instant I had muted the visual screechings of thousands of uninvited, self-important, flagrant 1st-Axiom-of-Interactive violating Advertisers.

Of course this will all end come the day that the engineering teams relegated down the food chain to advertising agencies finally fire their Flash developers and start focusing on the emerging web spec HTML 5 as a platform of choice.

But don’t worry – that’s not going to happen anytime soon.  The spec is only partially deployed, and fortunately for me, advertisers love Flash.

Way behind the curve, agencies are still staffing up with Flash developers as though the technology can replace creative ideas, as though that one technology can pull them out of the ad industry’s chaotic spiral, as though it were – “the future.” To them, Flash is still cool.

Such is the state of creative teams in most ad agencies.  These poor guys are literally just starting to feel solid ground under their feet after a decade of “viral this” and “social that”.  The desperate wishing that TV spots would just stay important forever has finally waned and most agency creatives have finally, grudgingly, begun to accept interactive media as the centerpiece of their campaigns.  See, advertising creatives don’t like it when the medium carpet is pulled out from under them.  It’s only happened once before and it took them over a decade to accept it;  It’s hard to develop creative solutions when your palette changes so fundamentally everyday.  If technology is not in your blood – you struggle trying to track the advancements and incorporate them into something resembling a mature creative execution that doesn’t smack of novelty-chasing.  So now that Flash has been embraced ubiquitously by advertisers, it will take quite a lot to move that big ship off the Flash gulf stream.  You can rest assured that advertisers will still be using Adobe’s somewhat clunky tool for a long, long time.

And that suits my ClickToFlash self just fine.  That’s right boys.  Graphic banners are boring.  And what the heck is Ajax or JQuery anyway?  HTML 5 (or 6?) couldn’t possibly kill Flash.  Because with Flash you can create “experiences!”  Who knows maybe it will go “viral” or even better, “social”.

Just you keep spending your clients’ money on really humongous, big Flash campaigns.  Buy up all the available ad space for that gorgeous, experiential, Flashtrubation.  Please, I’m begging you.

And the rest of you Mac users – download ClickToFlash.

Internet nirvana awaits.

2 Comments The Best Thing On The Internet Right Now

  1. Pingback: Applied Design Group » Flush

  2. Scott

    Hey Joel,

    I agree that too many people are still falling back on Flash as a catch-all interactive solution but I am seeing enough quality uses of it that I’m not ready to just block it all together just yet. Lots of video sites for instance are using Flash players to handle all their streaming content for instance.

    But I rarely suggest Flash as a solution to anyone anymore even though I’m still working as a Flash animator and developer in the industry.

    Btw, I’m using Firefox and have the adblocker plugin which achieves the same goal without blocking the stuff you actually want to see.

    – scott

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