Presentation about the project re:DDS at the University of Malta, 22 May 2014.
The project attempts to reconstruct the virtual city, the DDS. De Digitale Stad (DDS), the Digital City, is an unique case study to tell the history of e-culture in Amsterdam. The goals of the project re:DDS are:
- To preserve the internet-historical monument DDS
- To map the history of the DDS, internet and e-culture in Amsterdam
- To include the DDS in the collections of the heritage institutions of Amsterdam
- A pilot for net-archaeology: how to reconstruct, preserve and retrieve the virtual city DDS (DDS is born-digital) and make it accessible to the public, on a scientific and social level.
For more information see:
Presentation about the project: re:DDS, Web Archaeology. The REconstruction of De Digitale Stad
Project: re:DDS, Web Archaeology
the REconstruction of De Digitale Stad
Amsterdam Museum, Tjarda de Haan (guest e-curator & web archaeologist)
University of Malta, 22 May 2014
Library, Information and Archive Sciences Department
Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences
• The story of Amsterdam – your entry to the city!
• Formerly known as the Amsterdam Historical Museum.
• Web: Corporate site, co-creation platform.
• Social: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr.
• Mobile: Collection App, MuseumApp.
• Semantic & Open Data: Online collection, Europeana, Apps for Amsterdam,
Wayback in Amsterdam in 1994…
In the wild, wild cyberspace
arose a virtual city
from networkcables, computers and modems…
… De Digitale Stad - DDS - The Digital City
2014: Help! Our digital heritage is getting lost!
• UNESCO’s 'Charter on the preservation of the digital heritage' (2003): "The world’s digital
heritage is at risk of being lost“ (…) and “it’s preservation is an urgent issue of worldwide
• Material: complex, transitive and dynamic.
• Methodes: difference between web-harvesting and web-archaeology. Web-harvesting is the
equivalent of taking a photographic snapshot of an object, while we aim to recreate the
object itself by digital excavating.
• Division of tasks: who will take which responsibilities to reconstruct, preserve and retrieve
born-digital heritage and make it accessible to the public? We badly need a central
repository for tools (for example to read obsolete media) and a comprehensive software
• Approach: no standards. Given the urgency we can not wait. So just do it ... and trial and
What is De Digitale Stad - The Digital City (1994-2001)?
• 1st (free) public domain virtual city in the world.
• 1st Dutch online community.
• 1st time internet (free) accessible to general public in the Netherlands.
• Grounded by a fluid group: independent media, hackers and the municipality of Amsterdam.
• Inspired by the Free-Nets movement in the US and Canada.
• Attracted international interest for the design: metaphor of a city to structure cyberspace.
• Good for the cyberreputation of the city of Amsterdam:
• CNN (1997): "For hundreds of years the city of Amsterdam has been a center of commercial trade,
art and education. Now it’s helping point the way in the information revolution too ".
• Manuel Castells (The Internet Galaxy, 2001): "The most famous citizen computer network. (…) A
new form of public sphere combining local institutions, grassroots organisations, and computer
networks in the development of cultural expression and civic participation".
• Inhabitants (the users): 1994: 10.000 - 1997: 60.000 - 1998: 80.000 - 2000: 140.000.
The evolution of the web:
• 45 years ago (1969): Birth of Internet.
• 25 years ago (1989): Invention of World Wide Web.
• 20 years ago (1994): online community DDS launched.
/lost+found: interfaces of the virtual city
DDS1.0 - 15 January 1994 DDS3.0 - 10 June 1995
DDS2.0 - 1 October 1994
DDS 0.1 – Never online…
Goals of the project re:DDS (REconstruction of De Digitale Stad):
• To preserve the internet-historical monument DDS.
• To map the history of the DDS, internet and e-culture in Amsterdam.
• To include the DDS in the collections of the heritage institutions.
• And… a pilot for net-archaeology: how to reconstruct, preserve and retrieve the virtual city
DDS (DDS is born-digital) and make it accessible to the public, on a scientific and social level?
What do we do & where are we now?
‘Information Research & Data Recovery’
• Launch of Open History Lab: re:DDS.nl.
•The Grave Diggers Party.
• Crowdsourcing in Open History Lab.
3. Analyse & reconstruction:
• The Rise of Zombies: crowdsourcing & co-creation.
• Flight of Zombies: DDS in ‘multiple-points-in-time’?
4. Delivery for collections and presentations:
• Let the Bytes Free!
5. Finish project:
• Conclusions, evaluation, documentation, knowledge sharing.
Grave Diggers Party, Friday the 13th
1. Working space The Archaeological Site re:DDS
• Bring and upload your code.
• Digg in the Wayback Machine and store excavations in Historical (e-)Depot.
• Share your stories and memories in the Open History Lab re:DDS.nl.
• Computers: excavators.
• Storage: buckets.
• UNIX commands, mice: pades, pick-axe, trowels.
• Scripts : metal detectors.
• USB: find bags.
• Metadata: find cards.
2. Museum space Tourist Tours
• /Lost+found: ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’:
• Hardware: servers, terminals, modembanks, taperobots etc.
• Screenshots of DDS.
• What is DDS? Where are you? What is this site? Why this site?
Ever compiled a program? Ever patched a binary? Do you know what the checksums of your systems
files are? Ever found the digital needle in a haystack? Web-archeology is finding the unknow
unknows at the edge of yesterdays technology. Web-archeology is digging up the past for the
1. History of De Digitale Stad & introduction of Web-archaeology.
2. DIY Web-archaeology.
3. Interactive Q&A: How to Deal with Lost & Found Raw Data?
What are we looking for?
Archaeological remains of the city:
• Software - Interfaces (DDS 1,2,3 and 3.5) and Freezes (1996, DDS3)
• Hardware - Shaman, Alibaba, Aladdin, etc.
• Special projects - DDS Webmix, dds.dds, dds.multcult,
dds.technopolis, de Metro, live.dds.nl, cafés, etc.
• Individual houses and squares - Thisbe, Plein vd Dood, etc.
• Secondary sources - Articles, interviews, video, etc.
• 40 gigabytes of raw data (software and
backups including squares, houses,
• The 'freeze' of 1996 (three tapes: alibaba,
dds and shaman).
• 2 public terminals.
• 4 servers.
• 1 modem bank.
• Manuals, publications, photographs, radio
play, videotapes, DDS original mouse pad,
/lost+found: TV broadcast by Smart TV on the opening DDS
• Live from De Balie of the Amsterdam cable on January 15, 1994.
• With: Internet pioneers Rop Gonggrijp, Felipe Rodriquez and Marleen Stikker
• Official opening by the deputy mayor of Amsterdam Frank de Grave.
/lost+found: De Digitale Stad newspaper, 1994
/lost+found: Handbook Digital Cities, 1995
/lost+found: De Digitale Stedeling, 1996
/lost+found: Blueprint of the Square of Death
Will we succeed?
• Exposition at the Amsterdam Museum: to present the story of the internet-historical
monument DDS and history of the internet and e-culture in Amsterdam?
• ‘DDS timemachine’ for visitors: interact with history and experience the ‘multiple-points-in-
times’ of DDS: 'How was the internet at the beginning?‘ and ‘How did it look like in the 20th
• Playground for researchers: browse between the ‘multiple-points-in-time’ of DDS, and
research the evolution of the web in a 4D collection (height, width, depth and… time)?
• DDS in the collections of the heritage institutions?
• Share knowlegde: DIY Manual for Web-archaeology & 23 Things Web-archaeology: how to
reconstruct, preserve and retrieve born-digital material and make it accessible to the public?
DDS1.0 - Jan, 15th of 1994
DDS3.0 - June, 10th of 1995
DDS2.0 - Oct, 1st of 1994
GOOD NEWS: DDS ín the Amsterdam Museum!
The next step
Web-archaeology: Crowdsourcing & REconstructing Amsterdam digital cultural heritage.
Our challenge: Will we be able -together-
to transform De Digitale Stad (The Digital
City; DDS) from a virtual Atlantis into
a virtual Pompeii?
Our goal: To reconstruct the virtual city
and to create a 4D collection in which people
can switch between ‘multiple-points-in-time’
and experience the evolution of this
unique virtual city!
Webscraping is not enough
• Content is user-agent / accept-language / user / Geo-IP dependent.
• We don't deal with static content, but with web applications.
• Not all content is accessible for scrapers.
• It is impossible to know what will be relevant material in the future.
Digital web-archaeology 2.0
How can we improve this?
• Crawl all sites (this is done by the Internet Archive).
• Acces websites with different UAs / accept-language / IP's to get different content from the
• Blackbox reconstruction.
• Archive total systems and reconstruct them.
Reconstruct total systems:
• Why does this not happen?
• What are you going to reconstruct?
• How do you handle it?
• Digital forensics, de-NISTing, de-duplicatie, NISTing NextGeneration (tm), fuzzy hashing,
• Reconstruction of missing files / detection of corrupt files.
• Data visualization.
• Point-in-time checkout.
• Emulation of total clusters on virtual machines and virtual network.
Our partners (till now):
• Old inhabitants, (ex) DDS employees and DDS affiliated web-archeologists.
• De Digitale Stad Holding BV.
• Digital Erfgoed Nederland (DEN).
• Karin Spaink, independent researcher.
• Stichting Computer Erfgoed Nederland (SCEN).
• The Amsterdam City Archives.
• The International Institute of Social History (IISH).
• The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands).
• The Waag Society.
• UvA Computermuseum.
• UvA Digital Methods Initiative (DMI).
• Guidelines for the Preservating of Digital Heritage (March 2003).
• IIPC: Web Archives: The Future(s), by Eric T. Meyer, Arthur Thomas, Ralph Schroeder (2011, University of Oxford)
• Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage: UNESCO http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-
• WIR SIND HIER – Opening TOTAL RECALL – The Evolution of Memory http://www.aec.at/aeblog/en/2013/07/22/wir-
• The excavation of the Temple of Isis in Pompeii Photo: Bridgeman Art Library
• Talk to the hand by Swamibu - http://www.flickr.com/photos/swamibu/3052879559/ .
• And more: http://www.delicious.com/re_dds/.