Announcing the WebCultures mailing list

Today I'm sending around an announcement for the WebCultures mailing list, which is a focused list on web history and "allied fields." If the list gets off the ground, this blog and all three of its blogposts will be moved to another domain, making way for a more general site with useful links, resources, annoucements, etc.

Here is the blurb:

WebCultures aims to bring together a growing number of researchers in the fields of web and internet history as well as the many archivists, artists, theorists, ethnographers, social scientists, critics and practitioners whose work intersects with the history of the web and new media culture. 

Ideally, the list will provide relevant announcements as well as a space for rich discussion and collaboration, for example around the following topics and questions:

Mapping the field 

What are established and emerging themes in web and internet history? Is it already possible to map a web historiography, in the sense of an overview of canonical questions, approaches and knowledge? How does existing work address the range of possible histories of web cultures, producers and users, media and communication forms, websites and platforms, web aesthetics, standards and protocols, software and programming languages, groups and institutions?

Education 

Where does web and internet history fit in existing media studies programs? What kinds of digital media history courses are being developed? Should students born in the 1990s learn about Gopher or the development of RSS - and if so, what are the best ways to interest and motivate them?

Resources and methods

What are the best on- and offline archives related to web and internet history, and how else is this history being preserved? What methods and tools are available for web archiving and for mining existing web archives? How can knowledge about the work of web history be pooled?

Relationship to other domains 

How can web history build on existing work in media and communications history? What does it have to offer research focused on newer objects of study such as social media platforms and the Whatsapp generation of communication apps? Conversely, how does the appearance of these new objects affect how we view and research web history? 

Institutionalization

What is the discipline’s status? What conferences, journals, funding opportunities and jobs are out there, or should be out there?

Of course, this list of topics may prove to be too ambitious (or not ambitious enough). At the very least, hopefully the mailing list will give us a better sense of who’s working in this fast-growing field.

The idea for the list came up in conversation with Megan Ankerson, Anne Helmond and Rudolf Ammann, when we were preparing for a history panel at the Social Media & The Transformation of Public Space conference back in June (here is a pdf of the abstracts).

I chose to use the name "WebCultures" as it is a little more inclusive than something like "Web History." Although I think there are plenty of researchers doing historical work on the web and new media, they may not necessarily identify with the history label. It also allows for the list to grow in a different direction than I've intended, which wouldn't be a bad thing. We'll see what happens.