THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

AOL FREE TRIAL CD-ROMS

photo of a pile of CDs

If you had to pick one object to represent the 1990s and the early 2000s what would it be? An object nobody seemed to be able to escape from? An artifact, that would come right to your doorstep, whether you wanted it, or not. Made from polycarbonate and aluminum it promised to show you a world yet unknown. The first 1000 hours for free, later on at minimal costs: The American Online free trial CD-ROM became a household staple in the United States and in Europe at the close of the 20th century. While it flooded mailboxes everywhere, the company's slogan "You've got mail" became all too real. Other new economy companies followed AOL's lead in the years to come, making the (free) CD-ROM one of the prime material artifacts of the emerging digital service sector. While offering a world seemingly detached from anything material, companies such as AOL, Google, and Microsoft posses material footprints of extraordinary proportions. Nowadays their prime marketing tools are fully at home in the digital world, hiding this fact even more. Yet, looking at their early promotional tools can serve as a reminder of the substantial infrastructures, which are the base of their digital existence.

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