It's sad to think how much of the Internet we take for granted. Even growing up with a computer, I had only the vaguest concept of what made games and videos run on the Web, or why some websites were interactive and others were static, more like books or newspapers. Basically, I didn't really get what Adobe Flash was, or how it shaped the entire Internet experience. (No wonder: You try reading this Wikipedia page sometime. It reads like stereo instructions.)
This is probably because Flash programs are those things you only notice when they're terrible: those early animations that looked like someone made a flip book of MSPaint scribbles and called it a cartoon; when your computer crashed because you don't have the right plug-in; when you tried to make a reservation online and the restaurant's totally overwhelming site was way more interactive than necessary.
So why not take the time to recognize Flash programming for what we've accomplished with it? From the looping Nyan Cat to Mark Fiore's Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoons to immersive game play, raise your glass to some of the most innovative uses of Flash!
Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.