The Big big Internet Museum, free & open at all times


Some time ago I had the chance to interview some of the founders of the Big Internet Museum, an initiative which stroked me as genius since the first time I set eyes on it. The founders, Dani Polak (art director, 26), Joeri Bakker (account manager, 31) and Joep Drummen (copywriter, 36) work all together in the well known advertising agency TBWA\ which enthusiastically supported the project from the start.

Here is some insight into this big project, by the hand of Dani Polak:

The usual first question, I guess, always is: How did you guys come up with the idea and what gave you the motivation to start it all?

Well, we were wondering if our kids would ever know what Facebook is. Then we started discussing about all the things that are already lost; like geocities, ICQ, Altavista etc. Then we knew there should be a museum for all of this… And since there was no internet museum yet, we started it.

So you do this on your free time, combining it with your jobs?

Yes. Which is really hard because we have a full time job at an ad agency. So we work on it 3 nights a week and 1 day in the weekend. We did that for half a year

I see, is it worth it?

Haha, yes absolutely. We never thought it would be such a big success. That’s definitely worth it 🙂

It is indeed. So this museum works just like a regular museum, except for the fact it is only online and because it is online that it opens a wide range of options for interactivity. For example the role of the curators. We see on your web that “Everyone visiting the Big Internet Museum can be a curator”, how does that work exactly? Can any user submit a new piece which, later on, will get voted by the users, in their rank of curators? How do you determine what pieces belong to the museum and which don’t, what is your criteria to follow?

Any visitor of the museum is indeed a potential curator. Anyone can submit something and if that fits our criteria (Should have had a (large) impact on the internet as it is today, should be global, not local, should be all about the internet (so not computers or technology) it will be on the vote page. The submissions with the most votes will get a spot in our permanent collection (after we researched it of course)

Who is in charge to write the information next to the pieces?

That’s Joep Drummen, one of our co-founders and also my copywriter at the ad agency. Joeri is in charge of the museum in general (keeping it all together) and I’m in charge of the design.

Are there going to be more wings? Is the museum going to grow along the internet?

Yes. But… the collection will change. New pieces will be added by the public and some pieces will eventually be archived. And there is a possibility that there will be more wings.

We see you also ask for donations, but of a very specific kind: twit donations. So is your goal to spread the word about the museum through the social networks with this initiative?

Yes. We’re not in it for the money. We just want as much people as possible to visit the museum

Is it working so far?

Yes it is. We had about 40 Twits a minute the first week. Which was really insane. Now we’re open for 3 weeks and got more than 150.000 which is insane

We see you have a lecture section, are the lectures going to be streamed online in your web page? What are they going to be about, do you have any already in mind?

Yes it will. We’re currently exploring all the options. We’d love people who where there during the beginning of the internet to tell something about their adventures. And that will be live streamed of course.

If someone wanted to visit your incoming Gift shop, what could he/she purchase in there?

 Internet related items 😉

Such as?

To be honest; we don’t know yet. We’re talking with different parties at the moment. All a big secret 😉

How do you project this museum in 10 years? What goals do you guys have both short and large term?

On the short term; we hope to become an authority when it comes to the internet and its artifacts. On the long term; our dream is to show the museum to our kids (we don’t have kids yet)

On a personal note, just to end, what is your favorite piece on the museum guys?

Well, mine is definitely Leeroy Jenkins and Joeri’s is the GIF. And I know Joep’s favorite is ARPAnet 🙂

A free, never ending project which everyone should take some time to dwell into it; past, present and future mixing all together in the biggest revolution in evolution of all times: the Big Internet Museum is, certainly, a grand idea.


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