#27: Don’t Mind Our Mess
Building something new has us feeling (kinda-sorta) nostalgic for those old “under construction” GIFs.
Welcome to Civic Signals, where digital public futures meet internet archives.
This week: We put up our own “under construction” sign. (Psst. We’re making a big announcement soon.)
Do you remember when almost every website would have a page plastered with “under construction” GIFs? You’d often see them looping at nauseating speed on the millions of GeoCities sites — the busy virtual neighborhoods of the ’90s, which were almost entirely built by design amateurs. (An oddball era of the internet even Facebook seems nostalgic for.)
Thanks to the tireless work of internet archivists, we have a rather overwhelming “under construction” collection to peruse. And as cheesy as they might look in retrospect, there’s something charming about the images of pixelated construction workers holding tools and operating jittery jackhammers. If anything, they sent a message to early cybersurfers: There’s a real-life human on the other side of your screen, then connected by screeching dial-up modems and countless wires. They suggested your fellow “netizen” was in the middle of making their home on the World Wide Web. “Under construction” was an implicit invitation to come back soon to see what these makers were up to.
This week, we’re writing to you with a similar message: Mind our virtual dust while we’re getting ready to unveil the next chapter of Civic Signals. In fact, we even made a construction sign of our own. We’ll leave that right here.
Sure, it might sound a little old-school to say, “Pardon our mess! We’ve got something pretty cool in the works.” But in the spirit of those janky GIFs of old, we’re sending a similar invitation from the other side of your screen: We can’t wait for you to join us in the new community we’re creating — a multidisciplinary community for the people dedicated to building better digital public spaces.
We’ll be sharing the full scoop on what’s happening soon — and you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, here are a few construction signs from the archives.
Watch out for the wet paint,
The Civic Signals Team
Illustration by Josh Kramer
Civic Signals is a partnership between the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin, and the National Conference on Citizenship, and was incubated by New America. Please share this newsletter with your friends.