What is continually changing, always expanding, and ultimately boundless? If you spend more time staring at a computer screen than you do looking up at the stars, your answer might not be the universe, but the internet.
Fortunately, for those of us wondering what it all means, a few movers and shakers in Berlin are opening the Internet Museum, the first brick-and-mortar institution dedicated to the world wide web. (In 2012, a small group from Netherlands launched the Big Internet Museum, but that’s an entirely digital enterprise).
“The internet and the associated ongoing digitization of society has become an integral part of our everyday lives and an economic basis for many people,” co-founder Paul Rascheja told the DPA, explaining why he wants to explore the subject within a traditional museum space. He and his colleagues are now searching for a location in central Berlin to house exhibitions. They hope to raise the nearly $700,000 needed for construction through the crowdfunding platform Startnext, as well as private funding.
When I first heard about the Internet Museum, I tried to imagine what kinds of objects it might contain. A hairball from Grumpy Cat? The original JPEG of Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking Paper cover? But Rascheja and his colleagues are thinking a bit more Mac-ro, if you will. The exhibitions planned thus far will showcase legendary computer models like the PDP and NeXTcube, along with historical displays tracking the internet’s development since 1962, when it was first created by the US Department of Defense. The institution will also tackle subjects like the computer revolution of the 1970s and ’80s, modern day hackers, social media, the mobile internet, data security, and internet freedom.
Rascheja said he expects the museum to draw around 30,000 visitors a year. If it does its job, they’ll leave with a better understanding of how the world wide web has transformed society, as well as a sense of where it might possibly take us next.