hmmm. . . . please discuss 03.18.2008, 5:57 AM
posted by bob stein
The following quote was in AP story i read in MIT's Technology Review this morning about Microsoft licensing Adobe's mobile Flash and PDF software.
"Flash content is the most prolific content on the web today; it is the way people express themselves on the Internet,'' Adobe spokesman Gary Kovacs said.
Hmmm . . . . i suppose it might be true that if you add up all the gigabytes of You-Tube videos that more content on the web is in Flash than any other format. But to say that Flash is the way that most people express themselves seems just a tad disingenuous. You-Tube and other sites convert amateur production into Flash; only a small minority of that content is actually created in Flash. But the reason i'm bothering to post this isn't to call Adobe out for misleading numbers it's to raise a warning flag -- actually two warning flags
1. Converting amateur production into Flash as You-Tube and other for-profit sites do, effectively moves that content into a proprietary format which resists re-use and re-mix. This is not a good thing.
2. Flash is not easy software to master. If it were true that most conent on the web was created natively in Flash rather than converted into it after the fact, that would mean that content creation had moved decisively into the province of the professional, returning us to the built-in the hierarchies of print and broadcast media. Also not a good thing.
James on March 18, 2008 7:56 AM:
While YouTube does convert many different formats (including other proprietary ones) to FLV video, I'd suggest that most people express themselves independent of format, using whatever tools come to hand, and the benefit of Flash is it can turn this whatever-content into something everything can view.
The other benefit of Flash is that it adds an interface to the content, whether that's YouTube's video player, Odeo's MP3 player, Scribd's document reader... And I think apps like the YouTube remixer (http://www.youtube.com/ytremixer_about) and Viddler's in-video tagging (http://www.viddler.com/learn-more/) contradict any perceived resistance to re-use and re-mix.
Flash is a web format, and so it's not encumbent on users to master it, but for the free web to provide them with the tools to share the stuff they've created in whatever format they like.
sebastian mary on March 18, 2008 9:46 AM:
Another thing to mention about Flash is that unless you're a reasonably adept coder it's not easily indexed by search engines. So while you can share stuff, unless you're meticulous about your metadata you are significantly lowering the probability that anyone will stumble across what you've shared. Perhaps this doesn't matter - after all, much of the Web will never be stumbled across - but it has implications for how balkanized we are encouraging the Web to become.
Bryan Alexander on March 22, 2008 2:20 PM:
Good catch, Bob, and right on the money.
It does feel like a consumption-oriented statement, too. Most people *viewing* most gigebytes through Flash.
I'm also reminded of an exchange I participated in at Macromedia HQ, just before the Adobeization. A Macro tech lead stated, in passing, that most people had broadband. "Er, no," responded a bunch of the audience, especially folks who lived in rural areas. There might be a bit of hyperlocal tunnel effect going on.
dan visel on March 27, 2008 12:19 PM:
Might be worth thinking about this again in light of Adobe's just-rolled out Photoshop Express. It's not enormously exciting - they've added basic photo editing & retouching to a photosharing site that seems a lot like Flickr (with more dynamic slideshows). But it's worth looking at how this crucially differs from Flickr - because it's not done in HTML, you can't download other people's content (unless you take a screenshot) unless Adobe decides to make a download option available. All the content is carefully controlled - something that might benefit rights holders, but doesn't clearly benefit users.
bowerbird on March 28, 2008 10:10 PM:
flickr isn't remix-friendly either.