‘A Brief History of the Internet’ by Melih Bilgil

Melih Bilgil’s ‘A Brief History of the Internet’ employs a distinctly simple visual language to depict a series of complex communication and technology developments. We are hurtled through the historical contexts of various breakthroughs that collectively lead to the invention of the World Wide Web.

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This animation project was conceived as a vehicle for showcasing Bilgil’s graphic design concept, PICOL. Short for ‘PIctorial COmmunication Language’, the project consists of a set of standardized signs developed to represent various features of electronic communication. The designer hoped that these icons would join existing examples, such as play/pause, creating a richer vocabulary of universally understood symbols.

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The director’s desire to cover the subject comprehensively is at times in conflict with the need to engage the audience, which creates a consistent element of discord. A feature common to many educational films is the interference created when entirely forgettable technical or historical referencing distracts from interesting learning points. The result of this is that the viewer’s short term memory is preoccupied by frivolous detail rather than the core subject; for example, the numerous acronyms that litter the script.

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In this film, a number of concepts, such as the decentralized network architecture, are enhanced by graphic visualizations. These reduced models communicate the dilemma and solution elegantly. However, occasionally the imagery does not expand upon or condense the verbal explanation. Instead it repeats the narrator’s script and the feeling of tautology creeps in.

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‘A Brief History of the Internet’ is comprehensive and stimulating. Occasionally it loses stride but ultimately one is left with the feeling they have learnt something useful.  Melih Bilgil lives in Munich where he works as a freelance multidisciplinary designer.