What will the Internet look like in 3016? Well, the Huffington Post will have a new name, the Galactic Security Administration will be the focus of conspiracy theorists, MindTube will tap videos right into your grey matter… and Reddit will look pretty much exactly the same.
At least according to Reddit 3016, a daily-updating art project built almost singlehandedly by Blair Erickson, which imagines the Frontpage Of The Internet for the distant future’s viral news. “There’s a ton of amazing cool shit in the site that nobody has found yet,” Erickson told Gizmodo. “Secret stuff that might blow a few minds.”
Erickson, 37, is the CEO of Jamwix — a San Francisco-based software and VFX company he founded to finish post-production on his film Banshee Chapter. He’s also a veteran Redditor, the former moderator of r/futurology, and the person responsible for one of the site’s most popular posts in 2012: a photoshopped front page set 1000 years in the future, complete with snarky observations on the types of posts that were getting traction at the time. (“Only 2990’s kids will remember this game.”)
“The one comment that always stuck with me was users saying ‘I wish I could click those links!,'” Erickson said. And so began a four-year-long project, with Erickson writing short articles for the futuristic Huffington Planet, photoshopping sharable images for Hologur, and shooting videos to be posted to MindTube. Erickson’s partners at Jamwix helped him build the website, but Erickson “photoshopped it all” and “edited the short films, [and] wrote all the text and comments” on his own.
To dream up all those stories, videos and images, Erickson combined futuristic technology with what he sees as universal themes around human conversation. “If you read graffiti in Roman bath houses you see human beings make… the same silly things even thousands of years in the past. Who’s sleeping with who. What kind of foreigners disturb their xenophobic feelings. Who’s a badass. What they like, what they hate. Who is a liar in politics, etc. So I wanted to play it out in a fun futuristic way.”
The site launched early last week, and naturally, the first place Erickson posted it was Reddit. But according to Erickson, who said he’s developed something of an antagonistic relationship with current Reddit moderators, his posts promoting the site were taken down. “[F]or a brief moment it reached #1 before it was deleted,” he said. “Then they started zapping it everywhere.” “It’s definitely a satire of modern online culture,” Erickson admits, so maybe Reddit’s mods couldn’t take a joke.
After that, Erickson said, traffic to the site quickly flatlined (he sent the screenshot above as evidence). Of course, someone who spent four years mastering digital artifice could easily fake a graph like this one, and given how far Erickson went to make Reddit 3016, it isn’t impossible that this drama is all some viral marketing attempt — though Erickson’s site is mostly fake websites and links, it does include several links to his company’s iPhone game CineMagic: Hollywood Madness. Whatever the reason, Erickson’s labour of love is well worth a look — whether Reddit moderators think so or not.