Relive 21 Years of Internet History with Giant Scrolling City Artwork
posted on by Eric Stimson
The Internet is a massive, sprawling, cacophonous place that might get a little seedy, offensive, and frustrating, but reflects modern culture like nothing else and is an unbeatable source of information of all kinds. (Hey, after all, where would ANN be without it?) To relive the past 21 years of the Internet's past, head to Yahoo! Japan's unique website, The Mother of Internet, which imagines the Internet as a city that keeps building on itself, with each major website or online service a different office or floor in the towering structure.
The image begins in 2016; as you scroll downwards, the artwork drifts backward through time. Mirroring the Internet's checkered contents, the city contains everything from games like Pokemon Go, Puzzle and Dragons and Angry Birds; social media like Facebook, Twitter and LINE; smartphones; operating systems; stores like Kinokuniya, Amazon and Animate; video streaming sites like Nico Nico Douga, Netflix and Hulu; news sites like My Navi News, Yomiuri and NHK; encyclopedias like Baidu, Wikipedia and Nico Nico Daihyakka; and e-mail services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail. As you head further into the past, you might even find some long-forgotten relics in there; remember MySpace and Napster? (Note, however, that the site focuses particularly on the Japanese Internet, with website placement largely coinciding with their entry into the Japanese market.) Clicking on each room or sign will bring up a brief explanation of the website, service or product it represents. Meanwhile, denizens of this peculiar city work, chat, relax, and zip around in the foreground on broomsticks.
No, the Internet didn't begin in 1996; April 1, 1996 is when Yahoo! Japan launched. (As a result, Yahoo gets special emphasis in the city.) The website is the work of John Hathway, an artist who studied engineering physics at the University of Tokyo's graduate school. It was originally launched last year for Yahoo! Japan's 20th anniversary but was recently updated for 2016. The artwork is also available as a 6 meter-long (20 feet) poster, but only 200 copies are available; to apply for one, click on the banner below on this page from a smartphone.
Note that despite how prevalent the Internet is on ANN, only a minority of Japanese use it on a regular basis.