[WebCultures] CFP - NM&S - Web25

Michael Dieter mdieter at gmail.com
Mon Sep 8 09:02:25 CEST 2014

Special issue of New Media & Society on the Web’s first 25 years

In August 2016 the World Wide Web can celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Or can it?No doubt that the World Wide Web — or simply: the Web — has
played an important role in the communicative infrastructure of most
societies since the beginning of the 1990s, but when did the Web
actually start? And how has the Web developed? These are the two main
areas of study that this special issue intends to investigate.

The start of the Web
As with any other new media form it is difficult to determine in a
clear cut manner when it was invented. Was it the first time it was
thought of? Or when it was made publicly or commercially accessible?
Or? In the case of the Web its 25th anniversary was widely celebrated
in March 2014, thus celebrating that Tim Berners-Lee circulated his
"Information Management: A Proposal" in 1989. But one could also
maintain that the Web only started when it was named "WorldWideWeb"
(October 1990), when the first Web server and the first Web page were
created (November 1990), or when the WWW software was made available
on the net, posted on alt.hypertext (August 1991) (cf.
http://www.w3.org/History.html). Or maybe the Web started years
before, with Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum in the beginning of the 20th
century, with Vannevar Bush’s ideas about the Memex in 1945, or with
the invention of HyperCard in the late 1980s? These questions all
revolve around underlaying questions such as ”what is a start?” —
”when is something ’new’”? — ”and to what extent is it relevant to ask
for clear cut dates”? This is one set of issues related to the history
of the Web that this special issue of New Media & Society intends to
explore and question.

The historical development of the Web

Despite the fact that it can be difficult — and interesting — to
investigate the beginning of the Web, the Web was invented after all,
and it has been with us for approximately 25 years now. What has it
looked like, and how has it been used? Who and what has affected its
development? These are some of the general questions regarding the
history of the Web, but they can be narrowed and detailed in a number
of ways, for instance by focusing on specific areas of society —
politics, culture, news, business, etc. — on specific demographic
groups, on different regions on the globe, on the technical
infrastructure, or on software. In addition, the historical
development of the Web not only calls for empirical studies,
historiographical issues are also highly relevant to address, that is
theoretical and methodological topics related to the writing of the
histories of the Web. The historical development of the Web as well as
historiographical questions related to the history of the Web
constitute the second area of interest for this special issue of New
Media & Society.

Papers must address one of these two areas of study regarding the Web
— or they may address both, and even focus on their interplay — as
well as they must adopt a historical approach. With a view to sparking
discussion, the point of departure of the special issue is that what
should be celebrated is the date when the Web was made publicly
available, that is August 1991 — but contributors are welcome to
question this.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

• Broad as well as specific histories of the development of the Web,
focusing on, for instance, technology, graphic design, culture,
politics, etc.
• The history of sharing syndication, or viral spread
• The development of blogs and microblogs
• The history of one website, or types of websites
• Web elements transcending more websites, for instance the use of
images, sound, or video on specific types of websites (news, social
network sites, other)
• The Web’s interplay with traditional media (books, newspapers, film,
radio, television)
• The big trends, developments of entire national Webs, or of the entire Web
• The history of spam, or of hacking
• The role of familar, but often unaknowledged Web features such as
search engines, browsers, and plugins
• The use of the Web as a historical source, for instance archived Web
• The history of events on the Web, such as political elections,
catastrophies, sports events, etc.
• What is ’new’? — intersections of ’old’ and ’new’ on the Web
• The gouvernance of the Web (on a global, regional, or national scale)
• Defining moments and events on the Web, regarding inventions as well as
• Social networking sites
• The need for and use of digitally supported methods and digital
analytical tools
• The history of the Web in the larger framework of cultural history

Abstract and time schedule

Please email a 700 word abstract proposal, along with a short author
biography, no later than 15 November 2014 to nb at dac.au.dk.

On the basis of these abstracts invitations to submit articles will be
sent out no
later than begin January 2015.

Final selected articles will be due 1 June 2015 and will undergo peer
review following the usual procedures of New Media & Society.
Invitation to submit a full article does not therefore guarantee
acceptance into the special issue. The special issue will be published
in 2016.

The special issue is edited by Niels Brügger, the Centre for Internet
Studies, and NetLab, Aarhus University, Denmark, nb at dac.au.dk.

This call for articles can be found in pdf format at

Please forward as appropriate to
interested parties


Michael Dieter
"Social Media Expert", Gentequemola, Internet
Old West Amsterdam
"I'm on computers profusely" - Lil B

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