Web exercise

Motivation:

The DS assignment bank’s web based assignment that caught my attention was the “way back time machine.” This assignment prompts the reader to use the “way back machine” from the internet archive website. I had never seen this tool before and played around with it for a while, looking at different websites over time and how they have evolved.

Content Considerations:

After browsing through some of the websites that had been logged with this tool, I stumbled across the feature on IMDb. While it was interesting to flip through some of the other sites that had progressed dramatically in their short lives, IMDb is a website that I have been using since the late 90’s, and still use today. I would say, with certainty, that it is the website that I have been regularly using for the longest period of time.

Links:

The link for the internet archive:

http://archive.org/web/

The link for the internet archive of IMDb:

http://web.archive.org/web/20131021165347/http://www.imdb.com/

And finally, if you have been living under a rock for the last 17 years, heres the link to IMDb:

www.imdb.com

Here are some of the different versions of this website over the years. I tried to screencap every time I saw any major changes instead of posting one for every year, which would be a little redundant.

Here’s the website today:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.29.06 PM

This is what IMDb looks like presently. The advertisement for “Gotham” is huge. Its the entire background of the website and consumes the banner at the top of the page. The images are also pretty large and the words sparse, which I think makes the website look more visually appealing than in the past. Most of the internal links are displayed in drop down tabs, as opposed to just being listed on the sidebar.

2011:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.55.27 AM

The 2011 page still looks familiar. The main image on this page has already rotted out, and so has one of the advertisements on the left (filled with the way back machine logo), so this page requires a bit of imagination. Even as recently ago as 2011, the page is quite different than the image of today’s website. For one, the amount of text is a lot greater. In comparison to today’s version of the website this is significantly busier.

2010:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.53.45 AM

One of the flaws with this program (way back machine) is that the background advertisement is coded in such a way that if they used a background ad at all, it is projected as the current background ad. In this image from 2010 there is an ad for a television show that premiers next week. So again, we have to use some imagination to piece this together. The 2010 page is not very different than the 2011, I just wanted to show this one to display this particular flaw of the tool.

2007:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.48.27 AM

The 2007 version is totally different! There is so much text and again, some of the pictures are missing due to link rot. This also shows a completely different design for the website. The primary navigation through the website is on the left hand side, where there are tons of links to click through. Looking at this website at the time it was live may have made perfect sense, but now it feels like sensory overload and would seem cumbersome to navigate.

2003:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.40.38 AM

2003 was the first iteration of this website that I saw with a large advertisement. This Cat in The Hat ad seems kind of funny and primitive now, but I can’t put my finger on why specifically that is. I think I have just gotten used to movie advertisements getting more and more extreme and flashy all the time, so this seems very stripped down. Again, this version is very text heavy, and now this would be seen as way too much to read for a front page.

2000:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.38.38 AM

This day in 2000 I picked with intention; the article on the front page mentions that, “On this day, October 17th [2000], ten years ago, the IMDb made its semi-formal debut on the internet.” While the Way Back tool may go all the way back to IMDb 1996, this suggests that this website has been around since 1990. This really blows my mind, considering the fate of most other old websites. Not only does IMDb still exist 24 years later, it’s still a relevant website. This 2000 version of the website also clearly dates itself with the use of clip arty stock images (I think it’s fair to say this is less popular now) and the size of the images. All of the pictures on this page are incredibly small, especially in comparison to the current version.

1996:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.37.28 AM

While this only gives us a rough idea of the 1996 website, I think it still says a lot about the function of this website and how that has evolved over the years. Clicking through from the homepage in the 1996 version revealed a website that functioned like a library catalog, allowing you to search for actors, directors and films. There are some other features, like a reader voted list of top films, but this site is pretty minimal and straightforward.

Tool Evaluation:

I think this tool is kind of amazing. In class we discussed a lack of digital archives. This is an example of an internet archive and I can see a lot of the problems we discussed in class with trying to collect this “historical” information. The older the version of the website I was looking at, the more the links (to images, video, etc) had rotted out. On the earliest version of the website I posted (1996) the links to almost every image don’t function properly anymore, giving the viewer a skewed concept of what it actually would have looked like. It’s also apparent that something is functioning improperly with this tool around 2010.

I think this tool could be useful in learning about the evolution of web development. I scrutinized this website and it helped me build an understanding of usability and how websites can be more visually appealing. I don’t doubt that in another 10 years (if IMDb still exists) it will look entirely different.

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One thought on “Web exercise

  1. It’s interesting how you not only reviewed the development of IMDB.com, but also the Internet Archive tool itself.

    As for the website review, I feel like you hit on a lot of key points. It was interesting to see how IMDB tried to stay on-trend throughout the years. But personally, I was surprised to see IMDB was still using the default blue and purple colors for links in 2007. To me, that feels like a very dated feature that mostly died out in 2004 or so.

    And like you, I wished the tool worked better, which would have made it possible to better analyze the change in online advertising. When looking at the current ad campaign on IMDB for “Gotham,” I was reminded of what the DK employees said last week in 405: these days, advertising is much more than just banner ads. It makes me not only curious to see what IMDB looks like in 10 years, but what their ad campaigns look like in 10 years. (Hopefully they’ll be a little less obnoxious than what they are today.)

    All-in-all, it was a great analysis of the tool and the website. The only suggestion I have for the future is to embed the links in the text, to avoid showing long web addresses.

    Like

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