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

Trending

What Material Research In Beirut Bodes For Our Waste Crisis

Design & Architecture
Technology Today

Umbrella Tells You Whether It's Needed Before You Go Out

Opus One was designed by former Samsung engineers and offers a weather forecast via the flashing LED on top

Sustainability Today

Biocomposite Skateboard Provides An Eco-Friendly Ride

The Uitto is an eco-friendly skate deck crafted from Norwegian wood fibers

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Work Today

Hyatt Honors Travelers With A 3D-Printed Statue Contest

The hospitality wanted to celebrate the people who go everywhere for work and make sure their tasks were not forgotten

Syndicated Today

High-Tech Replica Brings Prehistoric Art Within Reach

A £48m recreation of the Lascaux Caves in France will let visitors experience the unique place for the first time in decades

Related Expert

Tina Roth Eisenberg

Advertising, Arts & Culture, Work & Business, Design

Entertainment Today

Tripod Lets You Make Snapchat Videos Hands-Free

The Camkix kit lets you record wirelessly from any angle

IoT Today

GE Develops An Alexa-Enabled Table Lamp

The first in a line of interconnected home products will integrate Amazon's voice-activated system for smarter home living

Advertising Today

Spotify Mines User Data To Create A Global Ad Campaign

The series of billboards relays the feelings that people express through listening to music

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Why Personalization Is The Key To Customer Satisfaction

Andrew Blackmon of The Black Tux shares how the company is using machine-learning models to streamline the fitting process

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Social Media Today

This Collar Wants To Be The Bridge Between Human-Dog Communication

Inupathy claims to be world's first dog emotion visualizer

Retail Today

Commerce Expert: Why Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Can’t Be Replaced

Erin Armendinger, SVP of bio, explains the physical need of customers to experience certain products before buying

Fitness & Sport Today

Bicycle Hotel In Norway Makes Commuting A Breeze

The energy efficient space was designed to help the city of Lillestrøm get closer to their environmental goals by encouraging people to ride their bike

Fashion Today

Basquiat-Inspired Fashion Line Supports Emerging Talent

The late artist's estate has collaborated with New York label alice+olivia on a new range of designs

Gaming & Play Today

Fidgeting Tools Designed To Help Creative Minds Focus

The DIDGETS Collection helps those who have anxiety or are restlessly moving to focus while they are working

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017:
Conference Built Around Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Children Today

Helpful Robot Teaches People Of All Ages How To Code

The Root has coding expertise designed to benefit a wide range of people

Home Today

Sharing Service Connects Directors With Film Locations

Finding affordable places to film can be difficult, so GETset was designed to help creators easily find good locations

Technology Today

Adobe Is Teaching Machines To Copy Your Artistic Style

A new research project called Stylit uses a camera to mimic a drawing and reproduce the strokes digitally

No search results found.