CFP: The Web that was: archives, traces, reflections (Amsterdam, June 2019)

A three-day conference, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, June 19-21, 2019. The third biennial RESAW (Research Infrastructure for the Study of Archived Web Materials) conference. Organized by the University of Amsterdam.

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

Deadline for submission is 19 October 2018.

See the website of the conference

CfP: « Media history for the future: Web Archaeology »

Call for Submissions special issue TMG—Journal for Media History

Media historians increasingly have to deal with the fact that the object of their study or their historical sources only exist in digital form. Since the explosive growth of the internet in the 1980s and the web in the nineties, reconstructing internet history or histories depending on internet-based media are completely dependent on what is archived or still accessible. Most born digital source materials have never been stored in a sustainable way and at most are preserved by chance in forgotten corners of the web or on obsolete digital storage formats. The web historians of the future must therefore learn to « dig » in online sources to what is left of an antique website, an online video forum or a virtual media community. The found artifacts must then be reconstructed. In this way insight into the operation, use and meaning of the object can be acquired and the past can be reconstructed and interpreted. The need for exploring new tools and new digital methods, including source criticism, is gaining in importance, also for media historians. In addition, the worldwide web itself is increasingly becoming a dynamic archive in which sources appear and quickly disappear: what opportunities are there for research and what should we be prepared for in the near future?

In order to gain a better insight into the recent developments of web archaeology and web history, TMG asks for this theme issue contributions on the following topics and approaches:

• Theoretical and concrete explorations of web archeology as a method
• How can we use the web / digital-born data as a source for media-historical research?
• What historical transformations have taken place on the internet and the web and how can we period it?
• What are the limitations and possibilities in using the web as a dynamic archive?

Preferably, authors focus on topics related to the Dutch / Flemish media and communication history, but TMG is also open to international contributions.

This special TMG issue will be edited by dr. Susan Aasman (TMG), in collaboration with guest editors dr. Kees Teszelszky (Conservator digital collections KB) and Tjarda de Haan (Head of the Atria knowledge institute). Proposals (about 300 words) for peer-reviewed articles (6000-8000 words) can be submitted to Susan Aasman ( no later than 30 September 2018. It is also possible to submit a proposal for a (non-peer reviewed) review of tools and methods for web historical research or preservation of digital media heritage. The manuscript of the article is expected before Monday 3 December 2018.

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An Interview with Geert Lovink

Interview with the Dutch-Australian media theorist and critic Geert Lovink to be submitted for a special issue of Internet Histories dedicated to Internet and the Web in the 90s (see the CfP), edited by Valérie Schafer and Benjamin G. Thierry (second semester of 2018).

G. Lovink at CPOV-Conference in Leipzig Germany; September 2010
Photo by Rob Irgendwer
CC BY-SA 3.0

Valérie Schafer: First of all, could you tell me when you discovered computers and computer-mediated communications?

Geert Lovink: My first encounter with the world of computers was at the end of my primary school, in the late 1960s. This was a rather intense time for the Magic Centre of Amsterdam and the hippie movement, a rather turbulent time. I got influenced by the promises of computers from the hippie perspective, how people can communicate, influenced by the psychedelic movement, which of course one can read back in Fred Turner’s book[1]. This context is closely tied to the questions of how software should look like and how the user should be positioned in there. This topic is something I was really intimately familiar with when I grew up.

VS: Did your parents work in this field?

GL: No, I grew up near the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, behind the Concertgebouw. Almost next door to my primary school was the Hilton hotel where John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed when the hippies took over the park where I played, in 1969. Of course, I’m not from the ‘68 generation, I’m younger, from the punk generation, I entered the scene in 1977. But as a child I was very influenced by the counterculture that happened in front of where I grew up. My first direct encounter with computers was somewhat odd. I was twelve, thirteen years old. With a friend of mine I decided to become a member of a rowing club in Amsterdam. We started rowing on the river Amstel and while we were doing these explorations from the water we came across a strange metal junk yard where the first generation of mainframe computers were dumped and recycled. We could access the yard via the water. We often went there to have a look at these machines. At that time, my friend and I were interested in DIY electronics, in particular transistors. We then traded the large circuit boards we took from there with our friends.

A couple of years later, when I studied political science in Amsterdam at the university, of course I encountered these mainframes again. That was in 1978-1979. We had to learn SPSS and data processing. This was done in the tradition of the Baschwitz institute, which studied public opinion. Kurt Baschwitz is one of the founders of mass communication and he was introducing computers in social sciences. We had to do questionnaires and then process the results using these mainframes.

Around 1983-1984 the personal computer became affordable and available, with the introduction of the IBM PC combined with MS-DOS, the Microsoft operating system. We started to use it. We were running a weekly magazine for the squatter’s movement in Amsterdam and very early on we used the computer to do text processing. Friends of mine also started to use the computer to build databases in the early 1980s, to trace neo-Fascist groups and map housing speculators. These were early database and mapping exercises. The use of computers and databases in social movements goes back a really long time. Activists gathered names, dates and observations. There are archives that try to conserve the autonomous social movement heritage and I’m also playing a role in this preservation effort at the International Institute of Social History (IISG), which is in Amsterdam. IISG has extended its archives, which focused on Marx, Bakunin, early trade unions and the Spanish civil war to contemporary movements such as feminism and ecology.

When the squatter’s episode of my generation came to a close, in 1987, with the help of my father, I purchased my first personal computer.

VS: Did you feel early on that there was a need to archive this history?

GL: My studies started with a visit to the Institute of Social History. The first paper I wrote, I was 19 years old, was on the history of the provo movement[2] which I had witnessed as a child. Back then I was too young and I couldn’t really understand much of it. I went back to the archives, to study that movement ten or so years later – a movement that had had a big impact on Amsterdam and was foundational to the squatter’s movement. Archival work has always been an important task for social movements to pass on collective experiences, images, concepts and debates.

VS: Would you say that your investment in digital cultures and social movements is a continuity of this starting period?

GL: For sure. We’re aware of similar struggles before WWII. But we also knew, in particular in the city of Amsterdam that was so severely hit by the Holocaust, that the rupture of WWII and the following decades of conservative reconstruction created a gap in the collective memory. We met few people in our field, only one or two, that were able to bring the memory of the pre-war back. It was a bit more common with the 60s movement. Memory and its transition from one generation to the next, a strong theme in the work of Bernard Stiegler that I admire, were at the forefront when I grew up.

VS: You bought your own computer in 1987.

Lire la suite

Le travail invisible des données

Le travail invisible des données. Éléments pour une sociologie des infrastructures scripturales, par Jérôme Denis

Ouvertes, massives, brutes… les données sont aujourd’hui au cœur de nombreux débats. Les optimistes y voient une ressource naturelle dont la récolte et la circulation sont en passe de révolutionner l’innovation et la démocratie, tandis que les pessimistes les dépeignent comme le carburant de mécanismes qui ne profiteront qu’aux puissants et renforceront les inégalités. Face aux enthousiasmes et aux affolements, face au vocabulaire de la transparence, de la fluidité et de l’automatisation qu’ils mobilisent, ce livre fait un pas de côté et défend la nécessité d’étudier les modalités concrètes de la production et de la circulation des données. Les données ne tombent en effet jamais du ciel. Elles n’affleurent pas non plus sous le sol des organisations. En amont de leurs traitements si prometteurs ou inquiétants, elles font l’objet d’un travail dont la nature, l’organisation et les processus mêmes qui mènent à son invisibilité restent à explorer. En articulant les apports de la sociologie des sciences et des techniques, de l’histoire, de l’anthropologie de l’écriture, de la sociologie du travail et des accounting studies, l’ouvrage compose un outillage conceptuel et méthodologique original pour interroger au plus près ce travail des données, qui est devenu central dans les entreprises et les administrations à partir de la fin du XIXe siècle.

2018, Presses des mines  (actuellement disponible sur le site des presses, en librairie à partir du 5 avril 2018)

Temps et temporalités du Web

Après le colloque de décembre 2015 TTOW… le livre regroupe une partie des contributions présentées lors de ces journées …

Rethinking the distinction between old and new media

The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Special Issue CFP

Rethinking the distinction between old and new media Guest editors: Frederik Lesage (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Simone Natale (Loughborough University, UK)(August 2019)

Read the CfP

Deadline for abstracts: 31th May 2018

Please send a 500-word abstract and a 100-word bio to the guest editors: and
Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to send full contributions by 31st October 2018

« Fractures numériques »

Journée « Du tesson aux archives du Web. Sources et traitement des sources en histoire économique »

8 février 2018 à l’EHESS (salle M. & D. Lombard) – 96 bd Raspail 75006 Paris


Le GRHéco : Créé en 2014, le groupe d’histoire économique du CRH cherche à fédérer diverses approches de chercheurs qui travaillent sur des questions relevant de l’histoire économique et de susciter une dynamique de réflexion sur des axes communs possibles.

Voir le programme 

Qu’est-ce qu’un forum Internet ?

Une généalogie historique au prisme des cultures savantes numériques

Camille Paloque-Bergès

OpenEdition Press, 2018

Découvrir le livre et sa présentation