Digital Archaeology show reveals 'lost' web sites

The world's first ever 'archaeological dig' of the internet is set to begin this week in London's über-trendy Shoreditch.

The exhibition, entitled Digital Archaeology, kicks off today to mark the 20th anniversary of the first stirrings of the world wide web.

According to its organisers, valuable evidence from the interweb's early days is at risk of being lost forever. Digital Archaeology is an attempt to kick-start a wider attempt to archive the web in Britain's first 'digital archive'..

"In five years' time or so, I doubt websites will exist and I expect the vast majority of sites from the first twenty years of the web to be gone forever," says Jim Boulton, curator of Digital Archaeology.

"Today, when almost a quarter of the earth's population is online, this artistic, commercial and social history is being wiped from the face of earth, within millions of hard drives lying festering in recycling yards or rusting in garages," he explained.

With every update, or the collapse of a dot.com, says Boulton, earlier versions of a web site are consigned to a "digital graveyard".

The team behind the exhibition, which is open to the public on 11-12th November, have trawled redundant servers and hard drives to piece together groundbreaking sites from the first two decades of the web.

Many of the now-defunct sites will no longer run on modern hardware, so the exhibition's organisers have assembled a veritable PC junkyard of old kit so you can make like it's 1996 again.

Alongside the sites themselves, the exhibition will include video montages of interviews with the brains behind the sites on display.

You'll find out more about the exhibition here.