(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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