EarthG

 
 
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EarthG.net was a project that ran for almost three years, from February 2001 until December 2003. It was conceived with two purposes in mind.

Firstly it was a deliberate attempt to blend fact and fiction, and in that sense may be considered as a precursor of the Marinetta Ombro project. It provided a set of weekly journals written by me, Mike Tomersen, and Berressee, the alleged performance artist from Belgium. It also contained a series of game-like elements.

Secondly it was an experiment in creating a site using only Flash. The body of the webpage consisted of no more than an instruction to load an 800 x 600 pixel Flash movie. This acted as a container for the site and enabled the site to have ebook-like page turning that worked across all browsers.

The prelaunch web page

The page above is the html-based launch page that introduced the project. The links included the material created for the opening. The documentation was the first Flash-only experiment and constitutes an early attempt to produced an ebook.

The mail addresses were offered and two hundred and sixty seven people applied for one. They were offered through an early incarnation of Everyone.net whose business model has unsurprisingly shifted since then.

The puzzle was a Flash-based sliding block puzzle of a Jasper John’s style target, each piece of which colorshifted rapidly as the puzzle was played. You won if you completed the project before you got a blinding headache.

The site also used the Rational Calendar, based on the ideas of Dave “Dave Cutlass” Cutlass, who held that the world had undergone a catastrophic Occlusion that held sway between 325, when the Council of Nicea was convened, and what we have been taught to think of as “1945”, when the Nag Hammadi gospels were unearthed. Cutlass argued that the years of The Occlusion were spurious and should be expunged from the calendar. He held that the real date should therefore be treated as the year 381.

The project ended when it became clear that I would be much better off ploughing the effort necessary to keep the EarthG site updated into working with Camie Lindeberg to develop the Marinetta Ombro project.

So I did.

The Legacy

Technically the site was very successful, but in the long run it was a an interesting but disastrous failure. Search engines could not access the content and the Flash movies cannot themselves be read by the current plugin. It was a hard lesson in the problems of committing to a closed proprietary system that requires one specific rendering engine.

The main outcome of this project was a more or less complete enthusiasm for open date, open formats and the open source applications that use them. Since the EarthG project finished one of my first questions has always been “how can we back this up in a future-proofed way?”

Needless to say, the EarthG archive currently exists on some Zip Drives which is, with hindsight, a perfect double whammy of dopeiness. I will try to retrieve something from there at some point this year, and post at least a sample of screenshots. For the moment all that still exists are screenshots of the page as it was at the beginning and an equivalent page showing the site as it was at the end, when the Flash superstructure had been removed and all that was left was a simple goodbye page.

Ho hum.