The Unknown Soldier
HTML, the common language of the Web, has evolved like any other
language, natural or artificial, and many elements which were originally
useful have perished into obsolescence or are on the
verge of extinction. One such fossil is the META tag "AUTHOR"
that allows a web author to identify themselves in their HTML code
so that web crawlers can easily pick up their names. This
evolution may illustrate one of the most revolutionary implications
of the Web: the shift in focus from the individual alone
to the connections between individuals. In other words,
the individual as a data unit, not autonomous but deriving identity
from one's place in the system.
"The Unknown Soldier" is a nostalgic look at the individual-based
perspective of the Web as a medium: as publishing tool, as dating
service, as shopping catalog. I use the infome software in two
I scan through 5,000 links and grab all the AUTHOR tags.
I am going back in time to find the individuals that "make the Web".
I take a sample of 40 authors and attempt to recreate a sense of
who they are by feeding each name back into the Web. The crawler
searches for the author's name on a search engine and returns
the most common words found on the first 16 links. It also
generates a 16-block square fingerprint (based on this search)
which represents the author's recreated identity.
The crawler scrambles for information to eulogize the Unknown Soldier
of the Web like it is rummaging through ruins of a collapsed building.
Some artifacts fit the puzzle and some do not. Who would I be
if I recreated my identity through the connectivity and non-hierarchical
structure of the information database?