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Call for papers for AIT Forum on the Histories of the Internet

 

Archives of IT (AIT) is organising a one-day academic-practitioner forum on the Histories of the Internet in January 2024.

The forum is designed to:

• foster more critical, multidisciplinary perspectives on the history of computers, telecommunications, the internet, and related digital media;

• illuminate how people, policies, initiatives and other social factors have shaped and are shaping technological developments; and

• feature talks and panels identifying a variety of competing perspectives on innovations or other key events in the history of information and communication technologies

The forum will run from 10am to 4pm on 9 January 2024 with spaces for up to 50 participants. It will be hosted at the Livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) in Central London, with the opportunity to join online.


We hope and expect to receive novel and engaging perspectives on the histories of a diverse array of technologies and events that have shaped the rise of our networked society – for better or worse.

          Bill Dutton, Chair of the Forum and AIT Trustee


Proposals for talks now being accepted

Proposed abstracts for talks and presentations are now being accepted for the forum from all disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.

These papers will bring together the insights gained from historical perspectives on the internet technologies and applications in education, civil society, business, industry, politics and government.

The set of talks and panels will be aimed at identifying a variety of competing perspectives on innovations or other key events in the history of information and communication technologies (ICTs), ranging from the telegraph to the future internet and related digital media.

Their aim will be to explore what can be learned from these histories and how historical perspectives can support future research, policy and practice for a network society.

Who should submit proposals for talks and presentations?

“We are particularly interested in ideas from those who have been engaged in historical research on ICTs, whether from their general evolution to specific developments, such as in network infrastructures, services, or collaboration, and in specific areas such as haptic communication, social media, or AI,” said Chair of the Forum and AIT Trustee, Bill Dutton, University of Southern California and Oxford University.

“Critical perspectives on conventional wisdom are as welcomed as are descriptive, historical, policy-oriented, or theoretical accounts from multidisciplinary perspectives. We hope and expect to receive novel and engaging perspectives on the histories of a diverse array of technologies and events that have shaped the rise of our networked society – for better or worse.”

Papers and videos of presentations will be freely available to the public on the AIT website and through outreach activities. Papers chosen for presentation will be posted on SSRN after the conference, and we encourage papers to be submitted post-forum to academic or trade journals, such as Internet Histories, in light of the comments received.

How the sessions will be split

Two of the sessions (4-6 presentations) are expected to focus on specific historical accounts or case studies, such as on:

• Network Infrastructures, such as presentations on telegraph networks; videotex and pre-internet networks; online services and platforms (ISPs); basic services like e-mail, browsing, search, and Cloud services; particular apps and app stores;

• Collaboration and Publishing, including blogging and publishing platforms; open source and Linux; online encyclopaedias; social networking platforms (Facebook et al.); crowdsourcing and collaboration tools; or

• Internet Services, from streaming services, news, e-publishing, online auctions, e-commerce; payment systems.

A final session (2-3 presentations) is planned around perspectives on the history of the internet:

• Which seek to challenge internet hype and rhetoric surrounding new technologies and actors.

• From romantic accounts of heroes and revolutionary innovations to dismissive critiques of scoundrels, bad actors, and technical failures throughout the history of technology.

• How do various myths and orthodoxies hold up to solid historical evidence and authoritative sources?

Proposals can build on the topics above, but the final programme will be set around the most promising proposals received by the forum’s programme committee, which will initially review abstracts of proposals for papers, panels, or presentations to the forum.

The Programme Committee

The papers and presentations will be selected for the forum’s programme by a committee:

• Chaired by AIT Trustee, Bill Dutton, University of Southern California and Oxford University

And composed of:

• Dr Sam Blaxland, Generation UCL Research Fellow, University College London

• Emeritus Professor Martin Campbell-Kelly, University of Warwick

• Tola Sargeant, AIT Trustee and Managing Director, TechMarketView LLP

• Professor Jane Winters, University of London and Vice President (Publications) of the Royal Historical Society

With support from:

• Adrian Murphy, Communications Manager, AIT

Funded by Sponsorship and Fees

This forum is supported by AIT with additional support from the WCIT. Those selected to present their work at the forum may attend free, but other participants are asked to contribute £50 for the day, which includes a stand-up lunch and post-event networking.

AIT would welcome any additional sponsorship to provide more free spaces at the forum and support for AIT in communicating the results and organising follow-up interviews and events. Email: pr@archivesit.org.uk

How to submit a proposal

The deadline is 9am, Monday 29 May.

Send your abstracts of 300-600 words for proposed papers or panels to forum@archivesit.org.uk.

Those whose abstracts of proposed papers are accepted, will be asked to provide a full paper, between 3,000 to 7,000 words, a month before the event.

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