History changes everything, even the future
Digital Archaeology is an exhibition that charts the disruptive moments of web design and celebrates the characters behind its radical evolution.
Debuting at Internet Week Europe in 2010, Digital Archaeology became one of the central events at Internet Week New York 2011, gaining sponsorship from Google and with a keynote presentation by The Library of Congress. The show, which has attracted over 12,000 visitors, brings together what many consider to be the most significant sites of their time, each pushing the boundaries of how we play, interact and are entranced by technology. The sites themselves represent the achievement of a growing mastery of the format and how their creators skillfully, painstakingly and often lovingly develop shifts both subtle and seismic in the medium. Take a look at some of the videos from the exhibition on the Digital Archaeology YouTube channel.
The web is just 20 years old, yet it has transformed our lives utterly, down to the bone. We do, see, hear, share, copy, sell, buy, interact, relate with authority and participate in society differently. Things will never be the same again. Over this short time, technological and communications developments have been so fast that the groundbreaking work of the early creative pioneers, produced on now defunct hardware and software, have disappeared almost as soon as they appeared, like Mayflies in spring doomed to die as the daylight fades.
Soon we will know less about these HTML blossomings than we do about the relief carvings in Mohenjo-Daro or the Yucatán. While they helped define our new culture, almost none of the websites of less than two decades ago can be seen at all. Today, when almost a quarter of the earth's population is online, this most recent artistic, commercial and social history is being wiped from the face of earth and 100 million hard drives lie festering in recycling yards or rusting in landfills.
Jim Boulton, Partner at Story Worldwide in the UK, concerned that the evidence of this explosion of creativity may be consigned to digital oblivion, set out to harvest and recover landmark websites from the web's short history and present them in a exhibition "Digital Archaeology", within Internet Week. Jim, curator of the show, has persuaded a network of digital pioneers to hunt in their attics for the coded jewels that can be seen no more on the web, and generously share them for the show. Some needed restoration to bring the screens back to life.
Know of any ground breaking or culturally significant websites that deserve preservation and attention? If so, and you can dig up the code - or know who might have it - please email firstname.lastname@example.org and join the movement to save our cultural heritage. Act now before it's too late!
Thanks to:Rob Blessin : Black Hole
Matt Bunce : Purple Pixel
Ted Byfield : Parsons
Dom Del Torto : Big Animal
Adrian Graham : Binary Dinosaurs
Abigail Grotke : The Library of Congress
Helen Hockx-Yu : The British Library
Alex Kearns : Tiki Toki
James Pilott : Primalux
Craig Riley : Casson Mann
Adam Rosen : Vintage Mac Museum
Chuck Stevens : Vintage Computer Museum