The Big Internet Museum: not too big to fail


This post appeared in my Facebook news feed earlier today and reminded me of another virtual museum I’d taken a liking to years ago. Sadly, when I went to revisit said museum all I found was this:


The concept of an online museum dedicated to the internet seems obvious, but most things we love seem obvious after they’re created. I recall the Big Internet Museum mostly archived humorous bits of pop culture pertaining to how people used the internet since it’s inception, then sprinkled interesting nostalgic examples throughout the site to create ‘exhibits’. What stands out clearest in my memory is the clean layout and simple navigation of the ‘museum’. It was linear, chronological, yet, very pleasing to the eye. The melding of aesthetics and resource made it easy to waste time meandering through the ‘wings’ of the website. In an age dominated by sound-bites, headlines and fads I’m not easily shocked by the passing of the last best thing, but for some reason the Big Internet Museum not existing anymore took me aback. But … why?

I think the answer is twofold:

  1. When the internet grows, the museum grows. What’s the problem? The concept lends itself to perpetual growth and expansion. As time goes on, the internet continues to exist and the ‘museum’ can grow with it. The only expense would be time creating the content and maintaining the website (Sorry, ‘museum’.) I can’t think of an analogy worthy of how senseless I think this is (but I’ll try.) It’s like not driving your Bentley because you don’t want to buy windshield washer fluid (I’ll come up with something better, but you get the point.)
  2.  Is it just the domain fee? If the nominal expense of time and maintenance is too much (and I can understand if the labor of love isn’t paying off) why not just leave the site up in it’s latest iteration? From what I gather the site had remarkable traffic from the onset. It’s relevancy is timeless even without staying current; it could be a document from the internet’s inception to any given date and still draw traffic.

I won’t spend any more time speculating why the ‘museum’ is no more. And I’ll stop berating the creators for why I think it easily still could be. Instead I’ll finish this blog post to let you know not long ago there was a ‘museum’ dedicated to the internet where you could learn how people searched before Google, when GIFs became a thing, and even how a blog post like this became possible.

Here’s the link to the Museum of Advice article, in case you’re interested.