Chapter 1:
Internet Art
Chapter 2:
Chapter 3:
Digital Weakness
Table of Figures
James Hayes' art website

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Then came the evolution of the Internet (from 1969 to 1995, and still ongoing), which of all recent digital technological developments is changing the most rapidly and is the most widely accessible to the artistic community. Somehow, due to the nature of the Internet's development, an accurate history of events is difficult to locate, as even highly reputable sources contradict each other over dates and order of events, so the dates that follow are based on the most popularly accepted versions.6

The Internet was developed as a communication and computer resource sharing tool for university researchers, supported by funding and development from the American Defence Department's "Advanced Research Projects Agency" (ARPA). What they developed was ARPANet7, a precursor to the Internet composed solely of a connection between a computer at UCLA and a computer at the Stanford Research Institute. On October 29th 1969 the first message was sent between the two computers, and promptly crashed the system. By 1971 the number of host computers had grown to 23, the @ symbol was invented in 1972 for the development of e-mail, and during the rest of the 1970s other organisations like the National Science Foundation took it upon themselves to develop their own networks. In 1984 when the number of connected host computers had grown to over 1,000 the domain name system (URL8) was invented that allowed users to find "" instead of having to remember the address as

The Internet began to get exciting between 1989 and 1995. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee began work on hypertext, a protocol for dynamically linking documents in an attempt to improve access to information for the international high-energy physics community. This was a concept that "leapt forward" to create the World Wide Web of interlinked documents and websites that exist today, an example of radical thinking in its highest form. The HTML format (hypertext markup language) was taken up in 1993 when the graphical interface known as a browser was developed, the first incarnation being Mosaic, but quickly followed by the development of Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. This finally allowed content that went beyond simple text, a concept that is now taken for granted, but which changed radically the way the Internet was used. Until then it was composed of academic texts, e-mails, and some discussion forums. Now it could be used to advertise and sell, for pornography (which is continually pushing the technical boundaries of this medium faster than any other business in the world)9, and for the individual to express themselves other than in words.

The home user finally got access to the Internet in 1995 when companies such as America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy provided gateways to the Internet. This in turn encouraged commercial companies to support developing gateways through advertising revenue. What started as a "pay to surf" phenomena eventually through market competition gave rise to free connection services such as (in Ireland) OceanFree, IndigoFree, etc., which led in turn to the further popularity of this rising star technology. The numbers of households worldwide that are "connected" has grown exponentially since 1995, with little end in sight for this trend.

Economic forces being what they are the development of the Internet coincided with the development of the home computer. Major corporations quickly saw a niche and developed advertising websites, others developed entertainment and shopping sites, and a whole community of home users discovered that they could develop "personal websites". An Internet search for "dogs" as of October 2001 reveals over nine million websites dedicated to the love of these pets. The wide ranging implications of these developments can be described as nothing less than a revolution, a revolution that continues to spread outward via market forces affecting every country and individual who encounters it. From the home based studios of artists across North America, then Europe and the rest of the world, came a transformation in the ability to market and display artwork.

by James Hayes
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