Monday, July 07, 2008


Mr Gilzean chuckles as he shows me around the Museum of the Internet, which he curates in his Colindale council flat. He shows me an Apple Mac still running a 1999 version of Outlook Express - his inbox and subfolders are literally clogged with spam.

"See this?" he asks, a glint in his eye, pointing at a subject heading titled RE: life cycles. "Amazing little virus, that one! First popped up in 2000, I think. Open it up, and it spams everybody in your contacts list with some of the most degrading pornography. And this one," he adds, indicating a subject header, JOKES FUNNY. "They don't make them like this anymore."

"Then there's the death threats, quite common back then. Not everyone could figure out IP addresses or how to track them," he continues, his face aglow, renewed by memories of a golden age. "A lot of weird religious texts too. I seem to remember the neo-nazis would leave threats with their caps locks on. They had a certain charm, I suppose. They reminded me of a man lost in the desert, scrawling a message for help into the sand drifts with his finger."

But is it just spam and death threats you collect, I enquire? "No, there's emails from old friends.." he trails off. "Old work colleagues. I find it incredibly mesmeric to look through my list of contacts and chance upon the email addresses of people no longer in my life. Long ago, before I had this computer, people would exit my life and vanish forever, barely leaving a trace. But this machine's captured their essence better than any polaroid ever could."

"It's a sort of voodoo, a fantastic shamanistic energy to work with. Now I own their fucking souls. I have their words. I have exactly who, what and why they were at the time - and nothing's more potent than that."
Is Mr Gilzean the former Spurs striker?
Yeah, unless he's dead, I can't remember. Anyway, never mind that, is it true you won "Mastermind"?
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