Consumption: Lost Sites and Web Design Comparison
Efforts to archive the history of the Web are nearly as old as the Web itself. Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat began what would become the Wayback Machine around the same time that they founded the Internet Archive in 1996, though it would not become publicly available until 2001. The archive now stores around 500 billion webpage snapshots, captured by automated crawlers.
Rhizome.org includes the Wayback Machine among its list of fifteen public web archives in its historical-browser-and-website generator oldweb.today.
For the third blog assignment, you’ll use the Wayback Machine—or if you want to get into a discussion of the web browser experience too, oldweb.today—to compare the web design of a site in the 1990s, during Web 1.0 in the text-and-image era, and the design of the same site sometime in the 2000s during web 2.0 and the era of interactive content, social media, and video. The goal is to use web design to understand the audience of a site and how people used it. The aspect of the circuit of culture we’ll be focusing on is consumption, but given that all five categories are interrelated, you might find it helpful to pair it with another aspect that sheds light on your chosen website. If you’re fluent in HTML, you might pull up the source code and talk a bit about the site’s production. If your site uses innovative graphic design, you might talk about representation. And as with the BBS assignment, a natural pairing for understanding consumption are questions of identity.
Alternatively, you have the option of examining a lost website from the early years of the Web. For this version of the assignment, you’ll rely on a single archived webpage and flesh out your discussion of its cultural significance by using contemporaneous news sources, as you did with the BBS assignment.
- Choose a website.
- Claim your website of choice in the thread on Piazza. No doubling up.
- Find an archived example of the website from the years 1993–1999. If you’re choosing a web design comparison, find a second instance of the website from roughly the years 2005–2013. If you’re choosing the lost website option, find a contemporaneous news source or two to fill out your discussion.
- Take a screenshot of each instance of the website you discuss. Do this before writing your paper so you don’t lose track of anything. It may also help to save the URL so you can return to the exact page again to find things like the source code or anything you might have missed.
- For this assignment, you will be required to provide a feature image, which should be one of the screenshots you capture of the website. Be careful to follow the image requirements so you don’t end up with an excessively large file.
- Provide links to resources where applicable.
- Credit images where possible by providing a caption.
All assignments should be submitted as text documents on Blackboard and to the blog on the course site. For further instructions on posting to the blog, check out this explainer.
Due October 9 by 5:00 p.m. EST.