A few short decades ago, the Internet was a very different place, full of screeching modems and dancing hamsters. Websites not only looked and sounded different, but, according to Jason Scott, a historian at Internet Archive, they were governed by a different philosophy entirely.
In the 1990s, building a website was often viewed as a finite project—like writing a book or making a movie—whereas nowadays, websites are never really finished. In fact, the contemporary view is that “if your site is done, something is wrong," says Scott. "It’s bad. You’re either out of money or you’re boring.” As a result, notes Scott, today we see the Internet as “more of a dynamic, shifting thing.”
In part to express that perceptual shift—and partly just for fun—Scott has compiled a massive collection of ‘90s-era “Under Construction” GIFs. These flashing, spinning GIFs told visitors that a website was not yet complete.
“It represents this utterly different philosophy that you need to know that this site is under construction, it's not done yet,” Scott explained to The Atlantic. This made sense back in the ‘90s, when websites only had a few megabytes of space, so building an ever-expanding site simply wasn’t an option.
Scott’s GIFs are part of a larger preservation project, driven by Archive Team. The goal is to preserve ‘90s web ephemera like GIFs and Geocities pages in order to save the world’s “digital heritage,” and promote understanding of the early days of the Internet. Check out some of our favorite “Under Construction” GIFs below:
[h/t: The Atlantic]