On 8 March, the New Museum of New York will be hosting an interesting round table regarding the preservation of initiatives which were developed on the Internet before the World Wide Web (which today is erroneously considered to be synonymous with the network of networks) became popular. Entitled “The Internet Before the Web: Preserving Early Networked Cultures”, this debate brings together Ben Fino-Radin, the digital conservator of Rhizome, the historian Jason Scott and the artist Wolfgang Staehle, founder of the artists’ network The Thing.
This event, which is presented in connection with the exhibition “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star”, focuses on the year 1993 as a significant year in which the incipient web was making its way through an environment still dominated by the previous technology. In contrast with the launch of the Mosaic browser, which offered image-based browsing, billboards (BBS), e-mail and usenet groups comprised a broad panorama of text-based communication and collaboration with somewhat rudimentary media. This is the context in which The Thing had developed: an artists’ platform based in Manhattan in which some of the Web’s first artists participated.
With this event, Rhizome launches a preservation project geared towards recovering The Thing BBS files and making them accessible to the public.