Originally Posted by Clive At Five
Where do you draw the line between what is part of the internet and what is adjacent?
Here's my thing: Flash is a document format, plus a piece of proprietary software for playing those documents back. It's just like Microsoft Word, as far as that narrow examination goes. You can find Microsoft Word documents on the Web, ready to be downloaded. Does that make Microsoft Word part of "the whole Internet?" Of course not. It's just a document format, and one you're not guaranteed to be able to work with.
Flash is the same way. It's included by default on a lot of computers, but it's not a standard. It's one company's product, that just happens to be popular for advertising and occasionally making really shitty, inaccessible, difficult-to-use, totally unnecessary Web sites.
If we declare that Flash is an integral part of "the Internet" (whatever we mean that to be), then why isn't Powerpoint? Powerpoint documents can be put up on Web sites and downloaded. Does that mean they're part of "the whole Internet?"
It just doesn't make any sense to me. If you're going to draw a line around part of the content that's out there and say "This is the core, these are the fundamental protocols and specifications," then you need at least some half-assed rationale for doing so. If you expand that circle to include Flash, why stop there? Why not include everything
that can conceivably be posted to the Web?
Maybe I'm older than most people here; maybe I'm not, I dunno. But I vividly remember the days of the early 90s, when "browser plugins" were a thing. You had to have a RealAudio plugin, you had to have a Quicktime plugin (because it was a separate thing in those days), you had to have all these different plugins for handling different content types. Hell, Adobe even wanted people to have an Acrobat plugin just to read PDFs, if you can believe that! And eventually, you had to have a Shockwave plugin, then a Shockwave Flash plugin.
Those days are over. Flash is the only
Internet plugin left (unless you count Silverlight, which is really just Flash with a paint job). And good riddance to them, because they were a pain.
Okay, how about this definition. If you don't wanna go with the whole "published and widely implemented standards" thing (which I freely admit is shaky at best), how about "The Internet is what your browser understands." If it has to be handled by a third-party plugin, it's not really a core part of the Internet. It's just another document format.