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Third biannual RESAW conference, June 18-21, University of Amsterdam. Public Lectures by Fred Turner and Wendy Chun on 19 and 20 June afternoon.

Detail Summary
Start date 18 June 2019
End date 21 June 2019
Time 00:00

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?

Public Lectures

We’re excited to announce two public lectures as part of the conference, and welcome ASCA members and other interested colleagues to join us for these special events.

Fred Turner (Harry and Norman Chandler Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Stanford University)

Machine PoliticsThe Rise of the Internet and a New Age of Authoritarianism

In 1989, as Tim Berners-Lee dreamed up the World Wide Web, a deep faith in the democratizing power of decentralized communication ruled American life. Even Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator of the Hollywood era, could be heard to proclaim that “The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the micro-chip.” Today of course, we know better. The question is, how did we go so far wrong? To try to answer that question, this talk returns to the 1940s and shows how our trust in decentralized communication was born in the fight against fascism during World War II. It then tracks that trust through the counterculture of the 1960s to the Silicon Valley of today. Along the way, it shows step-by-step how the twentieth-century American dream of a society of technology-equipped, expressive individuals became the foundation of today’s newly emboldened and highly individualized form of authoritarianism.

Wednesday, June 19, 17:00-18:15. Oudemanhuispoort, D1.08.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Canada 150 Chair in New Media, Simon Fraser University)

Exit: The Web that Remains

This talk questions nostalgia regarding the web that was by tracing the links between 1990s visions of "cyberspace" and today's embrace of AI. Both seek to solve political problems technologically through promises of an impossibly autonomous sovereignty.

Thursday, June 20, 15:00-16:15. Oudemanhuispoort, D0.08.

More Info

For more information see http://thewebthatwas.net/ or email organizers@thewebthatwas.net. The conference is financed in part by the 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). The conference is also made possible through funding from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (http://asca.uva.nl/).