Archaeology of the Internet
Archaeology of the Internet asks how people in the future might remember us: the first generation with not only physical, but digital artefacts to leave behind. Throughout our time online, we’ve developed a set of values, customs, and practices that inform how we interact with each other. This culture is quickly evolving but seldom recorded as websites are quietly reinvented or shut down. This project explores what remains of popular websites from the past in order to identify and preserve the lost conventions of our early Internet behaviour in material form. Each of the three instalments focuses on representing a specific interaction or platform in a physical artefact. The goal is to make records of a space that is not as permanent and immutable as it may seem.
A sewing machine
A wearable patchwork quilt made up of archived anonymous posts from the now deleted Craigslist Personals, the dating portion of Craigslist that was shut down in 2018 following the FOSTA-SESTA bills against online sex trafficking.
Contrary to current dating platforms, Craigslist Personals users were uniquely anonymous: no logins, usernames, profiles, or post history. Users could not respond or react to other posts nor could they contact each other within the website. This created a space where users could be extremely vulnerable, vile, or both without revealing themselves. As a result, each post simultaneously asks for attention from a mass audience while asking them not to ask questions. Donning the Cloak of Anonymity in public space simulates this interaction in real life: by displaying the posts but obscuring the wearer, the cloak invites others to stare and come closer, while acting as a barrier between the spectator and instigator.
A digital, field notes style excavation of a site: MySpace, once the largest social network in the world. The book compiles original visual and text artefacts from the 2005-2009 MySpace era with interviews from former MySpace users to piece together the experience of being on MySpace at that time.
A more detailed case study of this instalment can be found here.
An illuminated manuscript preserving the religious knowledge shared on Yahoo!Answers, a query website that shut down in May 2021. Done in the style of the ornate religious books handmade by medieval monks, this manuscript contains answers to the pressing religious questions of Y!A users.
© Benya Sutyanyong 2022