Internet Graveyard

Web base, software system, 2021

To visit the graveyard

Follow the grave digging bot on Twitter (It has stopped being active on Twitter due to the new policy Elon Musk brought to Twitter, but it is still making graves. It might move to Mastodon in the future.)

The Internet, as one of the essential systems or things in human society today, is incredibly young. The first website that everyone can saw was created in 1991, which’s creation also marked the birth of the Internet we are so used to nowadays.

So, this year, this dear friend of ours turns 30. In Chinese culture, entering one’s 30s is called 而立, which means one has entered the golden age of their life and has obtained knowledge and skills for him/her/them to create his/her/their own values.

The Internet grew much faster than us human, as of now (17 May 2021, 6:31 pm UTC +8). There has been 491,720,368 registered domain, and this number keep going up every millisecond. 

Internet Graveyard is a project to try to define and keep “memory” of the Internet. Only 251,223,483 domains out of the 491,720,368 ones are active, which means about 50% of the domains, and the websites on them, are gone. 

In 2010, Ulf Schleth create a website for people to bury their files call /death/null. This is the direct inspiration for me to create this project. Schleth wrote on the about page of /death/null: “it’s for digital romanticists, it’s about living and dead ideas and everything in between.” The idea behind Internet Graveyard is similar, but not the same: Internet Graveyard is about memory and memento. In the Pixar film Coco, one becomes truly dead when no one in the world remembers him/she/they. Maybe it’s the same for a website. 

A little bot, creating graves to memorize those websites that no longer exist and announce their death on Twitter. It works days and nights, but making a grave takes 12 hours, so it can only make two graves a day. At the same time, there are 250 million sites that are already dead, and this number goes up every minute. The job is never gonna be finished, but the poor little bot still digging, making a grave for every dead site, no matter how small it was, where it was registered in and what language it used. —— I think this scenario is sadly romantic and poetic, and that’s exactly what I want to do in this project.


Time Travel

WayBack Machine

Technical details and development logs

怪力亂神 New Myth

Web based, 2020


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Generated text according to 山海經 and 博物誌.

山海經 (ShanHanJing, The Book Of Mountains and Seas) and 博物誌 (BoWuZhi, The Encyclopaedia of Strange Things) are ancient Chinese books that describe myths and mountain, people, strange things in myths. They are also two of the first books that I read as a little boy that deeply impress me with all the stories that appear to be super cool and novel to a little kid. At that time I would be scared because I thought 刑天 (a character in 山海經, he kept fighting after his head is cut off and used his nipples as eyes and his navel as mouth (to yell)) is real.

My drawing of 刑天

For a long time in China, and I would say even now, the books like those two are described as books that are useless, because they write about monsters and non-realistic things, but not “serious” theories or “useful” techniques, which is contrary to Confucius’ words (“子不語怪力亂神”). But in my childhood and even now, they give me joyful experience.

They wonder outside the mainstream, finding value in the outside to tease at the pedantic mainstream. They ,also, in a way, represent the unlimited imagination, which I think is lack in today.

As a reader of these two books, I am surprised to see the outcome of the algorithm, it’s something familiar, yet new. It’s happy to see 鮫人 (they are half fish half human, their tear will become pearl) from 博物誌 and 相柳 ( he has 9 heads and a dark-green snake body) in 山海經 appear in a same story. I also want to give a interesting experience for those who have not read the books yet. I hope the generated stories can inspire their imagination, lead them into a strange but colourful world.

Published in ELC4

Use Rita library; text from 中國哲學書電子化計劃 and 中華古詩文古書籍網; pictures from 新浪; a sound from free; more details in code comment