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Life Online at the National Media Museum

Life Online is a permanent exhibition at the Bradford Media Museum, chronicling the internet and World Wide Web from its concept through to the present day.

Life Online at the Bradford Media Museum claims itself to be the world’s first permanent gallery dedicated to “exploring the social, technological and cultural impact of the internet and the web”. Naturally, I was quite excited when I happened upon it during a visit to the museum this weekend.

Upon entering the gallery you’ll find a glass pathway leading you through the exhibition, concealing under the floor commercial computers from the 60’s up until the 2010’s. Alongside this path are terminals and information points which focus on a variety of topicsĀ on the internet; it’s social, environmental and political impacts, as well as video interviews from prominent figures during the creation of the World Wide Web.

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Computer systems through the decades

One of the more enjoyable interactive terminals for me was the HTML builder, which shows the user the basic construct of a webpage. Using the touchscreen interface, the user can change images, font styles and text, with the results being rendered right in front of them. It also shows the HTML output of every change they make. Once “complete”, you can have the webpage sent to an email address along with lots of useful instructions for editing it further; explaining what software is required and giving a brief explanation of the basic concept, such as CSS and common HTML tags.

Aside from being educational and commenting on the social impacts of the WWW, the gallery also explores everyday tools such as search engines and social media networks, and briefly covers how these have evolved over the past decade. An interesting feature is the wall displaying hundreds of local Twitter profile avatars, a number of which I currently follow or know personally, which was great!

The Life Online gallery is located on the ground floor of the Bradford Media Museum. Before sure to check it out next time you’re in the area.

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