The Web that Was: Archives, Traces, Reflections
As the first generation of web users goes grey, it’s clear that the internet they remember is no longer around. The early web is now simply another object of nostalgia. Tech anniversaries are a dime a dozen, while once cool digital aesthetics have made several ironic comebacks. All of this reinforces a sense that we’ve left behind a digital history that was as clunky and slow as it was idealistic and naïve.
How can we rethink this relationship to the web’s past and the past web? This question is crucial today as the open web continues to lose ground to platforms and apps. How can this history be reconstructed and re-evaluated, and how are web archives and web histories impacted by technological change? What do traditional problems of preservation and historiography look like at scale? And what stories capture the diverse transformations and continuities that mark nearly 30 years of web history?
There is of course no single web history, materially or conceptually speaking. There is instead a politics of archives, technologies and discourses that needs to be uncovered. How can we expand our view of web history beyond Silicon Valley and celebrated cases? And how can we reveal the technological, social and economic contexts that have shaped not just the present web, but how we access its past? What role do archives play in uncovering the histories of the web, platforms and apps, as well as their production and usage contexts?
This conference aims to bring together scholars, archivists and artists interested in preserving, portraying and otherwise engaging with the web that was. In addition to paper submissions, we invite proposals for audiovisual installations, posters, software demos, or other media that connects to the conference themes.
Submissions in the form of an abstract may relate to, but are not limited by, the following topics:
* Web and internet histories
* Historicizing the web and digital culture
* Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and critiquing periodizations
* Past futures and paths not taken
* Platformization and the changing structure of the web
* Social imaginaries of the early web
* Archives and access
* Research methods for studying the archived web
* Methods for platform and app histories
* Ethics of (studying) web archives
* Technicity of web archives
* Software histories
* Archived audiences and histories of internet use
* Identity, intersectionality and web history
* Digital activism and web history
* Histories of net criticism
* Media industries and their online histories
* Web histories elsewhere: forgotten and marginalized web cultures
* Realtime, time travel and other web temporalities
* Future histories and the archive of tomorrow