Back to top

Appel à communication, Conférence "The Web that was : Archives, Traces, Reflections" (Université Amsterdam, 19-21 juin 2019)

The Web that Was: Archives, Traces, Reflections

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.


Keynote speakers 

  • Megan Ankerson, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, University of Michigan
  • Wendy Chun, Canada 150 Research Chair, Simon Fraser University
  • Florian Cramer, Professor of Applied Research, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Olia Lialina, Professor of New Media, Merz Akademie
  • Fred Turner, Harry and Norman Chandler Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Stanford University


Special event 

The conference will host a lecture-performance by Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures, Hogeschool van Amsterdam) and guests on the history and preservation of Amsterdam’s early internet culture.


Call for contributions 

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



Submissions are welcomed from all fields and disciplines, and we would particularly encourage postgraduate students and early career researchers to participate.

  • Individual papers of 20 minutes length (750-word abstract and a short author bio of 100-150 words).
  • Panel sessions consisting of three individual papers, introduced by a chair (750-word abstract for each paper, a brief description of 300 words of the purpose of the panel, and a short author bio of 100-150 words for each speaker).
  • Posters, demonstrations, and audio/video/interactive installations (short abstract of no more than 300 words, a list of A/V or other requirements, and a short author bio of 100-150 words)
  • Workshops (a 500-word rationale for the workshop, including discussion of why the topic lends itself to a workshop format, and a short author bio of 100-150 words for the workshop organiser(s)).

Deadline for submission is 19 October 2018.

Acceptance will be on the basis of double-blind peer review.



May 2018 - dates out
June 2018 - first call for papers
July 2018 - second call for papers
August 2018 - third call for papers
September 2018 - final call for papers and submissions open
19 October 2018 - submission of abstracts
December 2018 - notification of acceptance
19-21 June 2019 - conference


Organizing Committee 

Anne Helmond, University of Amsterdam, NL
Michael Stevenson, University of Amsterdam, NL

In collaboration with the RESAW Conference Committee:
Niels Brügger, Aarhus University, DK (organiser 2015)
Jane Winters, University of London, UK (organiser 2017)
Valérie Schafer, University of Luxembourg, LU (coming organiser 2021)


Program Committee

Susan Aasman, University of Groningen, NL
Gerard Alberts, University of Amsterdam, NL
Megan Ankerson, University of Michigan, USA
Anat Ben-David, The Open University of Israel, IL
Josephine Bosma, independent art critic and theorist, NL
Sally Chambers, Ghent University, BE
Frédéric Clavert, C2DH Luxembourg
Annet Dekker, University of Amsterdam, NL
Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, UK
Sophie Gebeil, Aix-Marseille University, FR
Robert W. Gehl, University of Utah, USA
Daniel Gomes,, PT
Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam, NL
Ian Milligan, University of Waterloo, CA
Francesca Musiani, CNRS, FR
Claude Mussou, Ina, FR
Janne Nielsen, Aarhus University, DK
Camille Paloque-Berges, CNAM, FR
Thomas Poell, University of Amsterdam, NL
Bernhard Rieder, University of Amsterdam, NL
Marta Severo, University of Paris Nanterre, FR
Kees Teszelszky, Koninklijke Bibliotheek/Royal Library, NL
Fred Turner, Stanford University, USA
Peter Webster, Webster Research & Consulting, UK
Katrin Weller, GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, DE



The conference is financed in part by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the research program Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Veni in connection with the projects “The Web that Was” (275-45-006) and “App ecosystems: A critical history of apps” (275-45-009).




Event Date: 
19 June to 21 June 2019
Event Location: 
Université Amsterdam, Pays-Bas