A new issue of the University of Otago’s electronic literary journal Deep South is out now. Lynley Edmeades and Catherine Dale have done a wonderful job with the latest number. The site has at the same time been given a complete overall and fresh look by Gilbert May. May has also created a new index of past issues while thoughtfully preserving their individual look and feel. Those issues and their design are themselves a taonga or treasure for both New Zealand literature and those, like me, who are interested in literature’s intersection with the history of the World Wide Web.
For a while now, I’ve been suggesting that Deep South is New Zealand’s longest-running electronic literary journal, though I remain interested to hear from anyone who is able to cite a counterexample. The first issue went live in February 1995 and is still online in all its mid-1990s glory. This issue, then, predates what the National Library of Australia claims as Australia’s oldest archived webpage, a May 1995 edition of The Australian Observer. Of course, what the National Library is interested in is the date of archiving, rather than of creation or whether the page is still extant. Still, the oldest Deep South pages, which predate the Way Back Machine’s earliest snapshots of the web, have the genuine feel of 1990s web design in a way that is hard to replicate today.