The Museum of Fossilized Internet
"To explore something so big, we first made it very small." — Gabi Ivens, creative lead and miniature maker
Welcome to the Museum of the Fossilized Internet.
This museum was founded in 2050 to commemorate two decades of a fossil-free internet and to invite museum's visitors to experience what the coal and oil-powered internet of 2020 was like. Gasp at the horrors of surveillance capitalism. Nod knowingly at the plague of spam. Be baffled at the size of AI training data and lament the binge culture of video streaming.
Note on the exhibit:
While curation always means making a choice, we visualized and incorporated as many of the everyday practices as we could based on the input, feedback, and observations shared with us by contemporaries.
You’re free to roam the museum as you please. Descriptions and additional research will put each exhibit into context (and perspective).
If you’re a 2020 contemporary as well, please leave feedback, comments, and additional observations when you leave.
Enjoy. Ponder. Act.
Computer mouse. Modeling foam and bell jar.
Dark patterns in design entice us to spend more and more time using digital products. We scroll, and we scroll, and we scroll, and the content never stops. The (digital) pressures on our attention often constitute a crisis in themselves, while fueling the climate crisis also.
Spam cans. Paper and gold foil.
Unsolicited email, or spam, is more than a nuisance online. In a 2009 report, McAfee estimated 62tn spam messages were sent globally, and that the greenhouse gases involved in providing enough electricity to generate, send and then delete this unwanted traffic was the same as the emissions from 3.1m cars.
Surveillance Capitalism and Legacy Code
Joana Moll's "The Hidden Life of an Amazon User books" printed in books. Paper.
An homage to the artist Joana Moll's "The Hidden Life of an Amazon User books" representing the 1,307 different requests to all sort of scripts and documents, totaling 8,724 A4 pages worth of printed code, adding up to 87.33MB of information, required for one user to order Jeff Bezos' book on Amazon. The amount of energy needed to load each of the twelve web interfaces, along with each one’s endless fragments of code, was approximately 30Kwh.
Netflix socks and couch. Textiles and wood.
Internet users in the year 2020 were heavy media streamers. Online video streaming accounted for ___ % of internet usage. The experience of binge watching videos was so prevalent that Netflix published a tutorial for connected socks that would detect when the wearer fell asleep on the couch and would stop the streaming. YouTube's emissions were estimated to exceed those of a city the size of Glasgow.
Internet of Things
Roomba and Amazon Echo. Molding clay and paper.
in 2020, there were ___ connected devices on the planet. These pulled an estimated ___ of data, resulting in ___ carbon emissions. Citation: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/11/tsunami-of-data-could-consume-fifth-global-electricity-by-2025
Bitcoin Mining Rig. Metal and modeling foam.
Emissions estimates from Bitcoin mining: ___.
Big data and Artificial Intelligence
Trevor Paglen's "From Apple to Anomaly." Photo and lace frame.
An homage to the artist Trevor Paglen's 2019 installation at the Barbican to illustrate the way in which AI networks are taught how to ‘see’ and ‘perceive’ the world by taking a closer look at image datasets.
"Paglen has incorporated approximately 30,000 individually printed photographs, largely drawn from ImageNet, the most widely shared, publicly available dataset. This dataset is archived and pre-selected in categories by humans, and widely used for training AI networks. In some cases, the connotations of categories are uncontroversial, others, for example ‘bad person’ or ‘debtors’, are not. These categories, when used in AI, suggest a world in which machines will be able to elicit forms of judgement against humankind. Discover how the advent of autonomous computer vision and AI has developed, rife with hidden politics, biases and stereotypes." -- Barbican.
Coming soon. Citation: https://www.energystar.gov/products/low_carbon_it_campaign/12_ways_save_energy_data_center/better_management_data_storage
Coming soon. Citation: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195925517303505