Rewind the web to 2002

Rewind the web to 2002, when an emerging Shockwave Flash technology was taking the web with storm, offering app-like experiences before we had modern CSS and javascript frameworks.

A late evening in 1999 ...

I am in my shared apartment bedroom one evening surfing the interweb, when I come across this cool list of websites made in some technology called "Shockwave Flash". I was blown away, and knew I was looking at the future. The future with an expiration date as it turned out.

Flash Peaks in 2002 ...

Fast-forward to 2002, and the SWF format is nearing it's peak. All the cool kids have websites delicately designed in Flash with splash intros, sound fx, pixel-fonts and pseudo-futuristic navigation.

Back then there was no jQuery, no CSS3, no webfonts and browsers were in their infancy. It was a struggle to create a rounded corner in html. Shockwave Flash offered us a modern UI with timeline, vector graphics, animations, an actionscripting environment which preceded its time, and a uniform plugin for all browsers. Finally a unified tool to free us from the confinement of lame html (we thought).

Mjau-mjau.com Flash Edition

This kid was no different: In 2002, mjau-mjau.com was launched in its original Flash incarnation. I recently came across an archive for the long-lost mjau-mjau.com website, which propelled me into writing this post. If you have the SWF plugin, you can view an incomplete version of mjau-mjau.com anno 2002 here.

* I found the files on web.archive.org, but unfortunately all external files (projects, music and data files) are missing.

The Flash website received a fair amount of attention back then, and it was all quite an enjoyable experience. I even came across an interview with myself over at The FWA from more than 12 years ago. It's a bit embarrasing to read now, but nevertheless it has some interesting quotes.

It seems to me like the puberty fase of Flash has come to an end, and designers have managed to overcome the lack of usability/functionality where Jacob Nielsen and his disciples were kicking us in the groin. If Flash comes to an end in a couple of years, surely it's gonna be replaced by developing environments which build on the experiences of Flash on the www.Interview with Karl Ward from 2002
I think there could be lots done with interface and navigation. There are too many sites out there abusing 3D and pseudo-futurism for navigation. Things have started to get better since the new millennium though. Designers have started to respect the screen as a tool for presenting visual media without having to simulate other media types. If the future isn't here now, it's not gonna arrive. Keep it real!Interview with Karl Ward from 2002

Fast forward to 2014 ...

Come 2014 and SWF has been all but erased from the www, except for a few obscure cases. Why you ask? The answer to that is diverse and subject to scrutiny, but the downfall of SWF may correlate with the arrival of mobile- and touchscreen devices. The whole situation may furthermore be epitomed by the Apple vs Adobe Flash controversy in 2010. In hindsight, it is logical to conclude that the arrival of touchscreen- and mobile devices alongside maturing javascript, CSS3 and HTML5 played an important role. Let's just call it natural selection ...

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”


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