From: Atlas to the World Wide Web, published 20 years ago. It is is one of these brave books that attempted to introduce the Internet and its services to potential users and web masters and provide a list of WWW resources. It is one of these gorgeous books that had the full text of the book “fully hyperlinked” included on a CD-ROM. One of these heavy books that became obsolete even before they would exit the printing press.

New providers, browsers, tools were popping up every week; and the websites … they were already too numerous and too agile: being redesigned, re-purposed, moved, abandoned every other day. How many were left behind by their makers? Deleted by sysadmins? How many sunk into oblivion before the Internet Archive sent its crawlers out there? We don’t know. The lists published in those useless World Wide Web Encyclopedias, Guides, and Atlases are often the only reference to websites mostly hosted by universities, made by academics in their spare time.

This is how on page 168 of the Atlas, in the “pet” category, I got to know about the first documented prominent collection of cat pix. Not without astonishment the authors note:

“For some mysterious reason, the Lab for Applied Logic in the computer science department at Brigham Young University has been a home for images of cats. here is a hearty collection, though web keeper Kelly Hall reports being out of server space. Over 100 JPEG and GIF files are available of many house cats, snow leopards, tigers, cougars, bobcats and more. There are even mirror sites of this page in Norway and in the UK”

When in 1997 the Wayback Machine’s bots reached the website, it was already closed. But what is really exceptional is that the Norwegian mirror mentioned in the article is still online —

“More then hundred JPEGs and GIFs!” — feel the scale, notice that most files are under 100k, and that all pictures are scanned pictures. And that GIFs are static images, not animations.

Enjoy the LAL Cats and rewrite your PhDs on online culture.

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