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Available articles:
1. Getting a lay of the web: an overview from web 1.0 to 3.0

Soon to be released:

2. Shaping the digital world: on autonomy and design (subject to change)

3. Why curation matters: the institute using the internet, a how-(not)-to (subject to change)

4. Online communities and web-cultures (subject to change)

5. Speculating on the format of online art. (subject to change)

Hi! You’ve encountered our research article in the wild. We’re glad you did as there’s a lot to talk about in our opinion. We’re all online - a lot - of the time. And some of us have started noticing some implications in relation to our daily life. The ‘world’ of the web is becoming inextricably linked to our actual physical world, which means that art too is becoming ‘webbed up’.

More and more we feel the necessity to be online which also goes for artists, organisations and institutions. But what does this ‘being online’ actually mean? How do we go about translating our work to the web succesfully? What should we take into consideration while doing so? And upon entering the web, how do we position ourselves among the myriad content streams, web-based cultures and platforms?

‘this message was deleted’ aims to inform you about topics relevant these questions with five articles releasing over the coming months, followed up with a roundtable podcast after the release of each article, where we invite guests to join the discussion. we’d love for you to become involved in the conversation as well by leaving comments, leaving voice-notes or by emailing us your thoughts at or because beyond informing, we want to start a broader conversation about the rapidly evolving landscape of the web and its relation to our lives and art!

so whether you consider yourself a web-citizen 100%, have your reservations about online and digital culture or just want to know more — feel welcome, be invited to participate and join us in considering art on the internet.

Getting a lay of the web: an overview from Web 1.0 to 3.0

written by: Olli, Ida Schuften and Bart Bruinsma

20 February 2023

 A lay of the web 

When it comes to online culture and the structure of the internet as a whole, we’re in the middle of a big turning point. Issues concerning the current state of the web are starting to make its online users reconsider their engagement with the web, resulting in the development of new models of organizational structures and platforms, as well as new theories, tools and technologies to shape the internet’s future. The development of blockchain technology, augmented- and virtual reality, and the development of a spatial web, are all parts of this speculated future dubbed Web 3.0.

This article will focus on a brief walk-through of the history of the mainstream world wide web and what the basic characteristics of its many phases are, divided into a pre-history/technical explanation,
Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and lastly Web 3.0. This information should help us understand how the web might develop and what the internet's future might look like for institutions, creators/developers, and users/consumers.

 What is the internet literally 

In a nutshell, the internet is the decentralised distribution of information. This key element is embedded in the internet’s origin in the 1960’s. It originated as a response to the threat of nuclear attacks on US telecommunication infrastructure. At the time, US telecommunication was a centralised infrastructure with a single exit point for communication across the entire country, making it vulnerable to rely on in the event of nuclear attacks from the USSR. If this one point was targeted it would fail. In response to this threat, engineer Paul Baran divised a solution to create a decentralised network that would allow information to travel from multiple exit-points and thus be better protected against attacks, thereby ensuring secure and stable communication within the United States. Information was transmitted between different relay points, also called nodes or hubs, until it arrived at its desired destination, establishing a decentralized communication network. Using such a network, it was possible to break data into multiple smaller units and send them independently in a distributed manner over the net, which sped up transactions and resulted in not only a more secure, but also a faster communication infrastructure.


 image: networks by Vilhjálmur Yngvi Hjálmarsson 

The development of the early internet is defined by an evolution from information being managed by a centralised entity with a single exit-point to a decentralised network of multiple exit-points that form an interconnected whole. This early version of the internet served as the foundation for what is called the ARPANET or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. The ARPANET was a tool that allowed different computers to communicate with one another, and was mostly used by departments within the United States government as well as universities and research institutions. This has been regarded as a precursor to the World Wide Web (WWW), or the internet as we know it today.

The web as it’s structured today did not take shape until the 1980s and early 1990’s, when the first true web browser launched, revolutionising how web media was organised and navigated. Three elements in particular shaped the internet: HTTP, HTML and URL. The HTTP-communication language, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol transforms data from one machine to another, enabling communication between devices online. In daily use, we recognise this concept in the form of the blue hyperlink that allows us to portal through the internet.

Screenshot 2023-01-25 at 11.36.10.png

 image: hyperlinks on Google search 

Another element that catapulted the development of the internet was the creation of HTML , or HyperText Markup Language which is the code used to lay out the structure of a web page and its contents, making it easier for users to navigate the web and for creators and developers to design websites and share information. The URL, or Uniform Resource Locator specifies the location of a resource on the internet.

In short, the web is nothing more than a network of pipelines that link electronic messages and information between people. These pipelines and infrastructures are physically connected through cable networks installed in the ground and lying on the sea floor, creating the connections required to communicate between continents. The ocean sea has become subject to a large network of submarine cables that form one integrated system in the connection between worlds.

From the beginning of the web, the concept of connecting worlds and distributing information through decentralised means has been one of the internet’s greatest strenghts.


 image: the internet in the physical world, the sea-string.