WebCollages

(Copyright, 2000-2007, Adrian Robert)

These works are generated by collaging images randomly drawn from the world wide web. A true random sample of web content would be extremely difficult to define, let alone collect, however the approach taken here, of taking images from pages found by sending random keywords to search engines, produces satisfactory results.

The instances shown are samples from a collection gathered every year beginning in 2000. They are part of a long term project to track the evolution of the web and the style of communications it mediates. Samples are collected 2-3 times per year and archived.

Click on the images themselves to view larger versions. Note, the actual web image collection was done by a program written by Jamie Zawinksi.



2000

In the early days, the web was largely the domain of universities and research institutes. Content ranged from the scientific to the personal, and commercial and "pop" culture as we know it was absent. This was the state from around 1994, when the web first came into prominence, until 1997 or so. Then came the dot coms, and a revolution began. By 2000, this transitional process seemed to have largely exhausted itself, yet now when we look back we can still see a more-than-representative sampling of technical and scientific content, which will take on a much-reduced role in subsequent years.

2000

 

2001

In this sample taken in 2001 a significant shift in content may not jump out at the eye, but the signs are there: a sports photo, a cartoon in the lower left, numerous commercial logos. Still, technical content makes up a substantial proportion.

 

2004

By 2004, however, we see a stark contrast with 2000, with science having been pushed back to the fringe it occupies in ordinary society, and personal and entertainment media content coming to the fore. The latter is perhaps the strongest evidence that the web continues to evolve. While the late 1990s and early 2000s marked the rise of dot com business sites, the web is now in the process of becoming more of an extension of television, magazines, and other mainstream consumer media. The intriguing difference from traditional forms is in the significant proportion of what might be called "personal" content, the result of the publishing and distribution empowerment that has now been delivered to ordinary individuals.

2004

 

2005

In 2005 for some reason we see a sudden burst in adult content. I had to take repeated samples just to get some clean enough to post without embarassment. Aside from this, the hodgepodge continues.

2005

 

2006

In 2006 the amount of adult content stayed more or less level with 2005, but the variety of other things increased. In particular a great many more personal photographs were making their appearance.