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Lectures and workshop on historiographies of websites, platforms, and apps

On 31 October and 1 November CFI and NetLab/DIGHUMLAB are hosting two talks and a workshop with Anne Helmond from New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam.

The Centre for Internet Studies and NetLab/DIGHUMLAB are excited to welcome Dr. Anne Helmond. Anne is Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and App Studies Initiative research collectives where she focuses her research on the history and infrastructure of social media platforms and apps. Her research interests include digital methods, software studies, platform studies, app studies, infrastructure studies and web history.

Please see information about signing up below the full programme and abstracts.

Programme Thursday 31 October

1.00 pm to 2.00 pm: CFI Open Lecture

Location: Incuba, Large Auditorium, Åbogade 15, 8200 Aarhus N

"Websites, platforms, and apps: Examining the techno-commercial evolution of digital objects and digital ecosystems"

This lecture addresses how we can examine the changing nature of the web by focusing on (i) the evolution of its underlying infrastructure, (ii) the increasing commodification of the web, and (iii) its entanglement with platforms and apps. It demonstrates a number of collaborative case studies that foreground how we may use web archives to study the techno-commercial evolution of the web. In particular, it shows how else existing web archives can be used, by moving beyond the single website/platform/app, its content, interface, users, or use, as main research focus. It demonstrates a number of methods for reconstructing the historical context of websites, platforms, and apps. Instead of examining their users and usage, these approaches aim to reconstruct the larger context or ecosystem that these digital objects have been embedded in over time. First, it demonstrates the value of historical source code analysis to analyse past states of the web. Second, it showcases an approach for determining and collecting archived platform and app materials. Third, it shows how we can use these materials to examine the evolution of social media as development platforms as well as advertising platforms. This enables us to understand and critique how social media platforms have interwoven themselves into the web and app ecosystem as well as the consequences of this entanglement.

2.30 pm to 5.00 pm: CFI Workshop

Location: Nygaard (building 5335), room 295, Helsingforsgade 21, 8200 Aarhus N

"Platform historiography: Using web archives to write platform and app histories"

This workshop engages with the research affordances of web archives for writing platform and app histories, despite the many challenges that these new ephemeral digital objects pose to their archiving and history writing. We will discuss how we can write platform and app histories by enquiring into what kind of archived materials are available to us and what kind of histories these materials afford. The workshop will introduce a framework for conducting platform and app histories. We will assess the availability of archived materials for a self-chosen platform or app through a scoping availability exercise. In addition, we will discuss triangulation techniques for collecting and validating various data sources: where can we find archived platform and app materials, what is the status and value of these materials, and how may they (not) be combined for research purposes? Finally, we address what kind of histories these materials privilege and what they enable us to tell about the evolution of platforms and apps. An overarching question during this workshop will be to what extent platform historiography is similar to, or different from, web historiography.


Programme Friday 1 November

9.30 am to 12.00 am: NetLab Forum

Location: Ada (building 5342), room 333, Helsingforsgade 15, 8200 Aarhus N

"The multivalency of web archives for platform and app historiography"

This presentation discusses the archival challenges and research opportunities of new ephemeral digital objects such as platforms and apps. How are these objects currently being archived, what is being archived, where, and by whom? To help answer these questions, this presentation puts forward a method for assessing the source availability of social media platforms and apps in web archives using MemGator. The source availability for these objects raises the question to what extent web archives need to reconsider their archiving strategies with the changing nature of the web, which no longer solely revolves around interlinking websites, but now also consists of ‘walled garden’ social media platforms and their connected mobile apps. As archival strategies often focus on the ‘front-end’ user interface and on user data, web archives could be said to privilege cultural histories of social media and apps. A call is being made for archiving more broadly and deeply beyond the end-user interface in order to enable medium histories.

Please notice: This event is hosted by NetLab/DIGHUMLAB, AU, and the presentation will be part of a NetLab Forum meeting, which will include two other presentations relating to research use of archived web:

The Historical Development of Tracking and e-Commerce on the Danish Web / Janne Nielsen, Assistant Professor, AU

mHealth in Denmark: Findings from the web archive / Antoinette Fage-Butler & Loni Ledderer, Associate Professors, AU


Sign up

Sign up for the workshop by sending an e-mail to Niels Brügger no later than 17 October.

Sign up for the NetLab Forum by sending an e-mail to Asger Harlung no later than 21 October.

It is not necessary to sign up for the open lecture.