Don’t flash your flash!

I’m a Flash skeptic. There are plenty of useful and valuable applications of Flash technologies on the web – Parleys and Youtube, just to name two. Problem is that the majority of the most annoying, useless and resource consuming web content also is Flash-based. Ads tend to rely on Flash for crude animations, silly games and blinking lights that divert our attention from the content which we really want to consume. Some sites, notably news sites, have gotten increasingly desperate to increase ad revenue allowing more, larger and more annoying flash ads. Some front pages are so full of Flash – was about to write “full of shit” – that slower computers almost grinds to a halt. The fact that advertisers tend to rely on Flash for their most ominous content is however something which can be turned against them!

The first thing I always do with a fresh Firefox installation is to install the excellent Flashblock extension.  Flashblock takes a pessimistic approach to Flash content on the web, and per default blocks everything replacing flash contents with a placeholder one can click on to show the contents. It’s also possible, using a convenient right-click, to white list a site and allow its flash content to be visible by default.

flashblockMore than 7.000.000 Firefox users have installed Flashblock and hence started to associate its place holder logo with annoying content and sites desperate for ad revenue. They have realized that Flashblock can make previously painful browsing experiences speedy and enjoyable.

Front page of with Flashblock enabled. with Flashblock installed.

The Addthis service provide an effortless option for web developers to add attractive and comprehensive social network sharing features to sites. However, Addthis also per default use Flash for statistics keeping purposes. The somewhat unprofessional-looking end result for a Flashblock user is something like this:

Flashblock render of the default Addthis flash.

Flashblock rendering of the default Addthis flash.

The remedy is trivial.  The extensive javascript configuration API of Addthis provides for:

<script type="text/javascript">
 var addthis_config =
 data_use_flash : false