menu

Digital Archaeology: Looking to the Past to Inspire Future Innovation

Digital Archaeology: Looking to the Past to Inspire Future Innovation
culture

Exhibitions at Internet Weed raise some interesting questions about our collective digital history.

Parneet Gosal
  • 8 june 2011

As election fever slowly escalates in the U.S., one of the few things all parties agree on is that innovation is key to American growth. China and South Korea’s status as the fastest growing economies in the world, and the number of patent filings in China exceeding the same number in the U.S. for the first time, all seem to indicate that Americans are indeed experiencing another Sputnik moment. Given this pessimism about America’s future in innovation, the Digital Archaeology exhibit featured at Internet Week New York is somewhat ironic and very refreshing.

Digital Archaeology showcases 28 archived websites that were arguably among the most pivotal websites of their time, including the first website prototype build by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. Other gems included the Subservient Chicken website, an oft-referenced tipping point for New York agency, The Barbarian Group, and Burger King’s advertising campaign created in 2001 that earned its very own Wikipedia page and millions of hits on YouTube. Internet Week NYC participants can surf each website on vintage software that corresponds to the period of each website’s launch, on historically accurate computers. Created by Story Worldwide and co-sponsored by Google, the exhibit made its debut at Internet Week Europe, London in 2010 and hopes to go back this year with an expanded selection of vintage websites.

BK-Subservient Chicken’s Creators speak about their success from odracir on Vimeo.

The exhibit is also a bit of an eye-opener for a technologist generation that is very much focused on the future. Digital media and technology have become entrenched in our cultural history, yet have found few homes in museums – institutions that are dedicated to preserving history and celebrating the past. Shockingly, few major organizations have archived their websites and are unable to share prototypes of their grandiose vision. Especially shocking is that iconic companies like Coca Cola that have a rich and celebrated history have only just started archiving their website(s). The International Internet Preservation Consortium is one of the few organizations that is trying to change this.

Digital Archaeology has valuable lessons for this generation. Many of the technologies and websites were built during a decade, 1990-1998,  when non-conformists who had a limited technology background (artists, musicians, writers and graphic designers) and even more limited accessibility to platforms, built truly ground-breaking solutions that form the foundation of Digital today. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned for Corporate America, and yes even technology startups, that give lip service to individuality but reward conformist behavior – after all, how many daily deals sites can consumer behavior truly sustain? There is a lot to be said for a no-rules, let’s-set-new-benchmarks mindset.

Story Worldwide partner Jim Boulton believes that future generations are in danger of knowing more about the early part of the 20th century than the early art of the 21st, due to the transient nature of culturally significant websites and the accelerated pace of technological innovation today. Websites are by their very nature pull vehicles. With the advent of the social web, websites are expected to come to the consumer via third party platforms such as Facebook and apps, and will likely undergo a metamorphosis in the not distant future. Given this, website archiving is more than an exercise for academics and historians, there are real lessons in innovation to be learned from these historic monuments. Are we willing to learn them?

Originally published on Seedwalker

culture
Trending

Tokyo Concept Store Disguised As A Parking Garage

Advertising
Brand Development Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Home Today

Beacon Device Takes The Pain Out Of Navigating A New Airbnb

Ping provides new guests with a guided tour of the house or apartment through a simple tap of their phone

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Arts & Culture Today

Shelf Makes Its Contents Appear To Hover In Midair

The design uses metal tubes to create an optical illusion when viewed from the front

Fashion Today

Declutter And Recycle All Of Your Unwanted Stuff

A new app will help catalogue your possessions and give them away as donations when you no longer want them

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Claire Mazur

Connects & Empowers Emerging Talent

Fitness / Sport Today

This Health App Will Pay You For Every Step You Take

Sweatcoin records your fitness activities and donates to charity based on exercise

Technology Today

How Motion Tracking Is Finding Its Way Into Design Craftsmanship

Expanding on traditional modeling, a Toronto-based designer is experimenting with how physical gestures can generate functional 3D topographies

Work Yesterday

Amazon Is Experimenting With A 30-Hour Work Week

The online retailer is launching a pilot program that will allow a technical team to work with a considerably shortened schedule

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs Today

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: Leave The Busywork To The Bots

Our Future of Work vision is an artificially intelligent helper that frees workers from the administrative to-dos that have dogged them for too long

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

How The Rio Olympics Stood For More Than Just Games

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the finest moments beyond sports

Retail Yesterday

Mobile Travel App Embraces Cognitive Computing

The Orlando Tourism Board is looking to IBM Watson to provide personalized local recommendations for visitors

Design Yesterday

Kate Spade’s New Fitness Trackers Push Wearable Tech Into High Fashion

The retailer joins other designers in bringing tech-assisted lifestyles to the luxury clothing market

Automotive Yesterday

Bike-Friendly Apartment Building For Swedish Cyclists

A residential space is being designed for commuters to easily transport goods

Advertising Yesterday

Nike Takes Over An Entire City Block With A Giant Running Track

The Unlimited Stadium is shaped like a 100-meter sole print of the brand's LunarEpic sneaker

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Gaming Yesterday

Fortune Cookie Service Brings Bad News To Your Doorstep

To promote their new delivery service Blackbox, the creators of Cards Against Humanity are delivering unfortunate messages in an edible form

Arts & Culture Yesterday

This Picture Frame Could Be The Lava Lamp For A New Generation

Slow Dance makes real objects appear to move in slow motion

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

No search results found.