Zachary Berry

Designer & Developer

The Dirty CD

The Dirty CD

I’ve unearthed a project from 2001 that I’ve been wanting to get online for a while now - A web-based CD-ROM experience I developed showcasing some very early web design and interactive media work. Keep reading for some context, and at the end of the article I have a link to view it!

Some Context

Starting in April and finishing in July of 2001 I developed a web-based CD-ROM experience for an online fan community I was heavily involved with. I called it the “Dirty CD” after the name of fan community called (now defunct, a fan site for the band Underworld). I probably burned about ten or so of these CDs and sent them out to people I knew in the community.

A photo of the Dirty CD CD-ROM disc
The disc itself (complete with a sticker label)

This CD would’ve ran in Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 95 or 98 (Windows XP wouldn’t be released for another few months). To the credit of the web as a platform, for the most part everything still works exactly as it did in 2001. I did have to clean up a few things to get it fully working, which I’ve done here. As much as possible though I left everything as it was - spelling-mistakes included.

A Time-Capsule of The Future

I wanted to preserve this and get it online because I think it’s a hilarious but great time capsule of me and interactive media as it was in 2001. During this time - I would’ve been in high school - I was spending a ton of time not only with this community but also learning web development, design, and Photoshop. I was also spending hours and hours discovering new electronic music, either through the forms, Audiogalaxy groups, or digging through the webpages of CD Now. In other words, I was (and still am) a nerd.

A photo of me my sister and my brother while I was still in high school
A very-cool me on the left in my fan shirt. Note the utility of my pants which could become shorts at a moment's notice...

2001 was still very much the wild west “anything-goes” world of web development. There’s a fair bit of cringe here (and indeed I was a typical angsty teenager with an active LiveJournal account), but back then this felt like the future to me. I was heavily inspired by The Designers Republic, Tomato and the general look and feel of everything coming out of Warp records.

I still both identify with AND no longer identify with the person who built this CD. In college I drifted apart from - the few times I visited I no longer recognized the handles of the new users - and I began to branch out to explore other music genres and artists. I believe the domain was eventually sold in 2007, and by that point my obsessions were directed elsewhere.

Recently though, in December of 2023, I finally had the opportunity to see Underworld live for the first time in concert in Miami (after a few missed opportunities throughout the years). They were amazing - it was totally worth the trip! And, it sounds corny, but for those two hours that they were playing I was completely that kid that you see in the picture above.

The members of the the band Underworld celebrating on stage after a performance in Miami
Underworld in Miami December 8th 2023
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