Computer Science students successfully conduct web archeology

3 February 2015

A student team from the Master’s joint UvA-VU programme Computer Science succeeded in unlocking a unique piece of web archeology. For the course History of Digital Cultures they sank their teeth into Amsterdam’s pioneering steps on the world wide web, a Freenet called The Digital City (De Digitale Stad or DDS, 1994).


The successful team with the course conveners. Back row, from left to right: Marc Went, Tjarda de Haan (Amsterdam Museum), Dr Gerard Alberts, Gerard van Hoesel, Sander Kerkdijk. Front row: Marcel de Vries and Ferry Avis. Photo: UvA

DDS offered internet access through the city-metaphor, as a community in a public space. Those who created an account, would receive a unique ‘face’, an avatar.

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Amsterdam Museum. Challenged by this patron, the students managed to track down and resuscitate the ‘avatar-generator’.

Course lecturer Dr Gerard Alberts: ‘The achievement of these students in just four weeks is truly impressive, both in technical and in historical perspective. Their results enrich our understanding of the early internet. Honouring the tradition of DDS, the successful hack was rewarded with apple pie.’

Published by  Faculty of Science