Five most influential websites...ever.

We caught up with Digital Archaeology curator Jim Boulton to talk about his Internet Week Europe exhibition and get a sneak preview of his inspiration web list

Internet Week Europe (IWE) kicks off on Monday and the following five days will see a virtual smörgåsbord of digital events taking place all over the city. The schedule of events is unadulterated nerd candy to web addicts all over Europe.

One of the many techtastic triumphs is an exhibition called Digital Archaeology. Curated by Jim Boulton, partner at digital agency Story Worldwide, it presents “10 websites that changed the world”.

“With 15 years’ worth of best practise it’s a real shame that the building blocks of today’s internet, and in fact today’s society, can no longer be seen,” explains Boulton.

According to Boulton, the visionaries who invented modern culture don’t get the recognition they deserve - a travesty he endeavours to rectify with this exhibition.

Not only will you be able to see the old sites and play around with them, but to give the experience that authentic 90s touch the sites will be displayed on the classic computers of the time and on the original browsers.

“I’m looking after 10 antique computers at the moment,” sighs Boulton. “It’s like having a classic car collection.”

We persuaded Boulton to talk us through his top five, to give LondonlovesBusinesss.com readers a sneak preview of the exhibition which opens on Monday at Story Worldwide HQ, 91-94 Saffron Hill, London, EC1N 8QP.

1. The Project, by Tim Berners-Lee, 1991

The Project

The Project

In at number one is the first ever website built in1991 by web god and inventor of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee. Called “The Project”, Boulten is the first to admit it doesn’t do much. But as the seed from which the internet sprouted, it deserves our attention.

When Berners-Lee launched this site, he of course also had to create a browser. He called this browser World Wide Web (later changing the name to Nexus when he realised the World Wide Web was much more than a browser). It only worked on the now obsolete NeXTstep Operating System.

Boulton has tracked down an original version of this browser and re-united it with a Next Cube, the machine the web was invented on, and the oldest existing copy of the original web page.

2. Antirom, 1994

Antirom

Antirom

Next up we have the digital experiments by agency Antirom. Antirom started as an art collective, and both the group and this pioneering website were formed in 1994 as a “protest against ill-conceived point-and-click 3D interfaces”. Their site was the first to identify the value of using a website as interaction itself, rather than just finding content. Described as a very playful site, it created interactive toys that got users engaging with media.  

The founders of the collective have all gone on to achieve digital supremacy under other guises - one, Nicholas Roope, is CEO of innovative digital agency Poke and chairman of Internet Week Europe.

3. The Blue Dot, Craig Kanarick, 1995

The Blue Dot

The Blue Dot

The Blue Dot, built in 1995, was the first site to include animation. Created by Craig Kanarick, founder of multimillion dollar agency Razorfish, the site caused mass hysteria with its ground breaking animation. The technology used to create animation online had been released previously, but was mired by a bug. When Kanarick found this bug and fixed it he was able to make sure The Blue Dot got there first.

4. Noodle Box, Amaze, 1997

Noodle Box

Noodle Box

Noodle Box burst onto the scene in 1997 thanks to a Liverpudlian agency called Amaze. The site is said to have had massive influence over Apple’s design guru, Jonathan Ive.

Noodle Box was an interactive landscape with building blocks, inspired by 80s video games. It was the first site to be truly driven by graphics rather than text. Mac lovers: bow in reverence.

5. Praystation, Joshua Davies, 2000

Praystation

Praystation

In 2000 we saw the emergence of Praystation. It was created by Joshua Davies of gaming agency Kioken (where job interviews were allegedly based on Streetfighter skills).

Davies’ dream was to write and publish children’s books. Having been knocked back by a few publishers, his friend suggested he simply publish online. He read some books on web design, taught himself code, and began to experiment.

Not only did Davies create his online sketchbook, Praystation, he became something of a code pioneer, pushing the boundaries with internet capabilities and simply giving away his findings. “He was very generous with his time and his code,” Boulton tells me reverently.

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