It seems that Flash is starting to decline around the web. The iPad and iPhone both don’t support the animation and video platform, meaning that web developers are slowly needing to replace flash content in favor of other alternatives. YouTube, the current king of Internet video is working on switching its site from Flash to HTML5. So is Pandora. It’s doubtful that HomeStarRunner will make that transition, however. For this reason, Flash is worth keeping around.
So what’s on HomeStarRunner that makes me want to keep Flash around?
Cartoons, mainly. A combination of geeky pop-culture references and good old fashioned surrealism made this site one of the earliest viral sensations on the net. Five years before YouTube and Facebook this site was spreading via email, instant messaging and word of mouth.
The first visit cartoon is a good test of whether or not you’ll like this site. After that, try some of these:
If these don’t make you laugh, stop watching now. You probably won’t get this.
If you do laugh however, and have never seen these cartoons before, I’m jealous of you. It’s kind of like discovering The Beatles for the first time; there is so much to explore and all of it is awesome.
HomeStarRunner isn’t just cartoons. A variety of games make the site worth visiting. Mostly inspired by the Atari and early PC eras, these games feature faux-pixelated graphics and gameplay from the early 90’s and earlier. One highlight is Peasant’s Quest, a parody graphical adventure game that captures the spirit of classic gaming.
A Post-Flash Existence?
Looking through all these old cartoons and games reminds me how much fun the early Internet was. It also worries me a little. Flash isn’t going away anytime soon, but what if it does? All of these cartoons and games may slowly become impossible or difficult to load on new computers; they already are impossible to load on the iPad without jailbreaking. This process, where old content becomes hard to load as supporting software disappears, is called digital decay. Files that are common today, including not only Flash files but also PDFs and Word documents, may be rare 30 years from now.
There are inspirational stories of people making an effort to preserve digital culture. Reocities, a backup of Geocities comes to mind. But we need to remember that such things take effort. HomeStarRunner may just be a silly cartoon I enjoy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about it disappearing. If Flash dies, lots of other content will die with it.
What solutions can you think of? Share them in the comments below. This is something we, as netizens, need to figure out. Also, if the Chapman brothers are reading this: bring us new cartoons please! We miss you guys.