Time Travel on the Internet

Project ID: 1558

Cube proposed by: Christian Sandvig

Unit: Information

Cycle: MCubed 2.0

Cube Accomplishments
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About this project: 
Internet users are now regularly offered the chance to travel backwards in time via software like Facebook's "Memories," timehop, The Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine," Google StreetView's historical imagery, and more. Like any archive, these software platforms filter and ultimately produce history and memory. Unlike a traditional archive, inclusion and prominence in an Internet "time machine" can result from curation algorithms, the interactions of automated agents or bots (e.g., crawlers), and collaborative filtering with other users. Media historiography has yet to grapple with this shift. This project aims to unite expertise in history, digital media, and algorithmic information systems to investigate the processes and consequences of these new time machines and to compare contemporary digital imaginaries with earlier moments in the history of print, radio, photography, and cinema.