Webris, netsam and the demise of Flash

Webris and Netsam are the names of two internet companies. This is not about them.

Instead, “webris and netsam” is a term I use to describe material and debris left over by internet-related tasks — you know, the kind of stuff you download during a specific project and hold on to in case you might need it later or because it’s too good to delete.

Then you either forget about it, never use it, or standards have changed.

Here, for instance, is a bunch of clip art and icon packs that I rediscovered in my “web design” folder. The oldest file is dated 1998, and the smallest of these 32px .GIF files is 453 bytes in size. These sizes were appropriate for current displays — twenty years ago!

A collection of 32px web-friendly icons and clip art

Back then designers cared about loading times or file sizes because nobody in their right mind would force a site’s visitor to download a huge photo only to display it as a small thumbnail due to the hosting and bandwidth constraints of the time. Conversely, excessive HTTP file requests on account of each of the multiple little icon files was to be avoided — hence image maps, and now CSS and Font Awesome. Things have progressed.

A collection of site-specific icons and logos

Then there are icon sets designed for providing attractive links to social media sites.

Others were intended to spruce up your default desktop icons.

A collection of "Vector Social Media Icons"

They were usually available in a range of sizes and useful only as long as the service remained active or didn’t change logo. Remember sites like del.icio.us, FriendFeed, Mixx, Newsvine, Pownce, StumbleUpon or Technorati? Gone. All dead.

Here are another few sets of unused ones (also combined into singular images).

A collection of 128px icons

A collection of 256px icons

A collection of 256px icons

While we’re on the topic of obsoleted software and reclaimed disk space: Flash is dead.

In 2017 it was announced that “Adobe Flash Player will no longer be supported after December 2020. The decision to end support for Flash Player was made by Adobe due to the diminished usage of the technology and the availability of better, more secure options such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly.”

Of course I also had a small cache of Flash games and similar nonsense floating about.

They too would’ve been destined for the great bit bucket in the sky had the Internet Archive not recently made the announcement that they’ve managed the emulate (most) Flash goodies right inside your browser. The timing couldn’t have been better!

Go on, here’s Pacman, or how about the classic Gerbil in the microwave?

It’s reassuring to know that there are many like-minded data hoarders out there.

Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger...

Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, mushroom, mushroom!

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