Digital Biology: The Next Step in Our Internet Evolution

When the internet started growing and it became apparent that this was the Next Big Thing, none of us could really predict just how integral it would become to our everyday lives. But imagine what would happen if the websites, pages, tweets, viruses and all other bits of digital information we’ve put out there on the internet evolved into a whole new type of life form: digital biology.

The Institute for Digital Biology is an amazingly unusual exhibit from Walewijn den Boer that examines an imagined world in which the internet itself has come to life and spawned countless little life forms that exist in the same physical space as the rest of the world.

These short films examine the alternate universe den Boer has created, illustrating the adorable-but-menacing little creatures unwittingly created by all of the programmers, designers and amateurs who have banded together to put information on the Internet.

The wild nature of these novel organisms speaks to the somewhat untamed nature of the Web – do we really realize what we’re doing when we make an offhand comment, post a picture or buy a membership online? We are, in effect, putting these little bits of information out in a wild frontier, setting them loose to wander about on their own and seek their own fortunes.

One thing that many Internet users – the younger ones in particular – fail to realize is that once something is out there it will always continue to exist in some form. That seems to be the point that the creator of this project is making. Are we creating a Frankenstein’s monster that will one day overtake our comfortable world? Or will the new creatures of digital biology be able to co-exist peacefully with their creators for all time?

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See more in Digital Design or under Technology. February, 2011.