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We’d love to link you to this website but it’s impossible (theoutline.com)
27 points by danso on Jan 12, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

Off to a bad start:

> A frustrating piece of art that challenges how your brain thinks about the internet.

No, the web, surely.

Not the first time we've seen a non-linkable 'web page'. The website of the 2012 Olympics in London didn't ban linking, but they tried to attach terms of use to linking to their site - https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120713/12025919694/olymp...

Not to mention all the old pages that were made entirely in Flash. Want to get back to where you left off? Have fun clicking through menus for ten minutes...

I was able to load the page by using this js code at the browser console:

    window.location.href = 'https://permanent-redirect.xyz/pages/' + Math.floor(Date.now() / 1000)
You may need to add 1 after the division by 1000 (inside the parenthesis) for better result.

> So far, -31028 people visited the website but did not see the art. Only 207.29% of visitors were able to view it.

Well those are some interesting numbers.

Ah, but in solving the mystery, you've made the art accessible to anyone -- the conceptual-art version of doing this: https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/story_me...

Given enough time you can find a shortcut instead of having to follow every redirect.

;) Thanks for the hint.

Site seems to have a bit of a bug though:

> The art has moved 49949 times since its creation on January 5, 2018.

> On average it moves every 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes and 11 seconds.

> So far, -23724 people visited the website but did not see the art.

> Only 190.46% of visitors were able to view it.

seems they're using javascript for their maths.

What makes you say that? In JavaScript, all numbers are floats, so overflows won't happen.

Good hint.

I will say, that the "art" is not worth the effort to find the page, but the intrinsic reward of successful sleuthing may be worthwhile.

Ah, contemporary art. In which the goal, per Duchamp, is to produce the least art-like thing you can and still get away with calling it art. And if that doesn't bake your noodle, remember this: you're not creating art unless you're trying to pass off non-art as art! For what is the meaning of art, but that which challenges and questions what is the meaning of art? This is how we get pickled sharks and books instructing you to dig holes for clouds and hide until everyone dies.

The asymptote of this development is art which is completely inaccessible, for if we think of art as something to be appreciated, then the truest art is art which is impossible to appreciate!

So this is where we are: a web page designed to be, literally, pert-near inaccessible, containing only a banal message when you succeed to access it, being hailed as an avant-garde work of profundity. I'm a bit reminded of Maurizio Bolognini's "Sealed Computers" piece, which features computers programmed to algorithmically generate images but not display them (their video ports having been sealed with wax) and strewn about a floor. The audience gets the notion that something aesthetically interesting is being produced, but doesn't get to see it or know what it is because fuck you, audience. All they get is the sight and sound of those haphazardly strewn beige boxes, slowly adding to the entropy of the universe. (One could, presumably, exfiltrate the images via side channels, as in Van Eck phreaking, but I get the vague sense that would be considered cheating and earn you a swift boot right out of the gallery.)

I got to the end and it looked like this https://imgur.com/a/Wt5Gi

Math is hard!

Net Art defined; Having fun making useless technology.

It’s a nice change of pace from our usual jobs of not having fun making useless technology.

Please don't speak for all of us. There are many of us around who still take our usual jobs of developing software to be an art of developing useful technology.

I think comments like these, although said in jest, undermine the work of many programmers who are creating useful technological solutions for a living.

I mean, I was definitely just joking. But I also think it’s a reality that we have to accept that despite our best intentions, much of what we make will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Only a small percentage of our products will ever break through that barrier to becoming truly useful in a lasting way. That’s not a failure in my eyes; that’s the reality of innovation, and the system is working the way it has to.

Not everyone is so lucky. Why should you be the one to feel undermined in that case?

It's an art for sure, but I don't really enjoy it anymore.

I think there may be a sort of uncanny valley effect for how much we like art.

For example, I am particularly picky about sc-fi. I love hard sci-fi like Arthur C Clarke. I can also enjoy really silly sci-fantasy stuff like star-wars. But if something is sorta half way, the inconsistencies and inaccuracies really annoy me and I hate it. eg that film 'Gravity' being a mix of realistic and unrealistic.

In the case of this thing..

A lot of the software dev type people on HN presumably love elegant tech, and probably dont have strong opinions on the latest high-art. But when the art starts to approach tech it hits this valley and we start to actively hate it.

Just an idea.

I've thought about this idea and have a proposed mechanism for it...

We dont have very strong opinions outside our areas of expertise of knowledge, we dont have the inclination or the capacity to really.

Whereas within our area of expertise we have cultivated our understanding to be able to fully appreciate and love great works, but also truly understand and thus hate the depths of failure of poor work.

I suppose this is similar to the original uncanny valley effect. A part of our mind is highly specialized at recognizing other humans with an amazing attention to detail. Real humans are registered by the system and pass, quasi-human things register and fail alarmingly, rocks and trees merely dont register.

The same could be said for almost any art piece.

It's not about practicality.

What _is_ "art?"

It got us talking, it got us thinking. Neither of those is useless

Here's a quick-and-dirty script to find "the art" (I haven't found it yet, if there is anything to be found): https://gist.github.com/jdiez17/db4f87fc4dad7b0d855017358bf4...

Of course, by publishing this script I'm making "the art" harder to find...

I tried that, but found that guessing backwards from the current time works better: https://gist.github.com/Aaron1011/2595f8699ade9d4df16398a68e...

They must have changed the response code, because I'm getting HTTP 200 on all requests

  $ curl -I https://permanent-redirect.xyz/pages/1515222320
  HTTP/1.1 200 OK
  Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 15:07:09 GMT
  Server: Apache
  Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

That's to be expected.

The idea behind my script is that the URL is encoding the unix time of the first visit to that URL. By starting at the current time and working backwards, the first HTTP 200 you come across should be the current page.

Ah, I see. Yes, that is definitely a smarter way of doing it.

I got the same art at /1515769907

> So far, -23660 people visited the website but did not see the art. Only 188.36% of visitors were able to view it. You are indeed very special.

Not sure if it was HN frontpage, but something broke it down.

> I won’t describe the art, though you can easily find it on Twitter, because it might threaten the joy of discovery.

Isn't the hero image of the article a screen shot of it?

No, it's a list of redirect URLs and a quote from the final page.

This would be kinda cute if it weren't for all the posturing about it being art. "challenges how your brain thinks about the internet" is an overstatement.

I got one of these:

  Not Found
  The requested URL /pages/123.php was not found on this server.
Looks like it is literally creating a new PHP page for every single redirect.

It's value as "art" aside, there are much better ways to architect that. Eventually doing a directory listing on that folder is going to take minutes.

Art hasn't always been about scarcity there's a long history of public art, in ancient Egypt far from being scarce art was everywhere but art was effectively sponsored by the government in ancient Egypt. You didn't sell art to a collector you were sponsored by the government to make art that was everyone to enjoy.

Nearly all governments fund art currently and in the past and scarcity has never been a defining attribute of art. Also, not all artists in ancient Egypt were sponsored and not all art was for everyone, e.g. slaves.

Anyone noticing that the user count is off? Like REALLY off. I'm only seeing it in the thousands. Currently it at 2546, but clicking the redirect I get 2434, 2380, 2306, 2075, 4011, etc. Seems like the counter surely broke.

Since it issues a redirect can’t you simply do curl -L and let it makes its way through them all? In which case every one of these “transient” urls is actually, de facto, stable

It's not really a 301 redirect. The server returns a 200 result page with a text telling it's a "301 Permanent Redirect" and a link to click to the next page.

How annoying.

It doesn't actually issue a redirect: it returns a 200 with the message "This art has moved to a new URL. The art is now visible at:" and a hyperlink.


URL is a timestamp



2018-01-08 14:27:33 -0500

In the end, is it an art or is it a tech demo project?

...and what's the difference?

Adding this for kicks: https://youtu.be/vVFasyCvEOg

Why put art in quotes in the article as if to suggest it is not? Seems like the piece got the author to participate and share their experience. Sounds like pretty successful "art" to me.

Would it better be called a "trick"?

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