Institute for Digital Life and Ephemera

Please contact us with any questions about the future of IDLE and its current work, following the global solar flare:

Please consider the news updates below.


IDLE was created in 2016 to address the increasing ephemerality of digital culture. Digital technologies allow us to create and share content across the globe more easily than ever before, but that culture is at risk of being lost for future generations.

As websites are taken down or revised, earlier versions are lost. Social media offers a record of daily life in the 21st Century but also vanishes into the digital ether. Devices quickly become obsolete and so how they were experienced and used also gets lost. The revolutions in storytelling facilitated by digital platforms have created fascinating, but intangible, experiences. IDLE is committed to developing an archive of digital culture that fully represents life in the 21st century. In only a few short years we have:

  1. Developed new digital archiving systems

  2. Collections over 5 million web pages,

  3. Gathered a sample of 200,000 social media accounts

  4. Archived 5,000 digital stories

  5. Synthesised and digitised the archives of 1,000 local newspapers

  6. Stored 1,000 digital devices and devised software to allow older content to play on new devices


5 April 2021

The newest story is now available. The Afterlife Employment Bureau by Triona Campbell is available at the link above.

6 February 2021

We are delighted to say that we have received a third story. Singularity is written and narrated by Guy Gadney.

15 January 2021

We have received a second story, this time by storyteller Rik Lander. Please find a link to it above.

28 October 2020

The first story told by our storyteller Hazel Grian has come back in. You can listen to it via the link above. A first small step in rebuilding the archive.

30 September 2020

Among all the bad news, we can confirm that our attempts to make simple storytelling devices is working and we have sent out the first few to start building up an archive of stories told by the most well-known storytellers in the world. We are looking into making these available publicly here. Please come back to visit regularly.

18 September 2020

We have decided that the only way forward is to start building up an archive and to start as early as possible. Our own Department of Devices has been assisting the Department of Stories by constructing special devices that use analogue recording technologies to capture stories and convert them to a digital format. Once these are confirmed to be working, we are planning to send them out as story collection devices.

20 August 2020

Like many other organisations around the world we must now confirm that our digital archive has been lost in its entirety. This is devastating news. All members of the Institute are trying to make contact as best as possible with other organisations in similar positions to develop an appropriate response. We are expecting a significant delay and expect available state resource to be used first and foremost for life critical services for some time to come.

7 August 2020

So far we have not been able to establish anything definite about the survival of our archive. We continue working on establishing all the facts. This web site is now up and we will be able to update you here, as long it is up. It is running on the only IDLE Computer that survived the flare.

5 August 2020

We have been hit by the widely reported solar flare on 31 July. Most of our systems are down and the extent of the damage to the archive is uncertain at this time. All members of IDLE are fine. We have been able to establish this single web page at this stage. Make sure to check back in good time.


Dep. of Stories    Dep. of Devices    Dep. of Social Media    Dep. of Education and Outreach