Call for Contributions

Call for Contributions:

4th RESAW Conference (17-18 June 2021)

Mainstream vs marginal content in Web history and Web archives

“Pathetic. There’s no other word for it. The website for the Fête de l’Internet has statistics that are desperately low, to say the least. Do they reflect the state of the Net? They certainly give rise, once again, to that worrying question: if no one in cyberspace knows that you are a dog, is the reason not simply because there is no one in cyberspace?”, March 2001, retrieved from Internet Archive (archived on 25 June 2003)

While at the end of the 1990s some were complaining that there was no one on the Internet, others were already experiencing success, like the “I kiss you” Web page (1999) – a personal page created by a Turkish man which attracted 12 million visits over five years: “His picture-laden personal homepage, which exclaimed in broken English his love of the accordion, travel, and women was visited by millions and spawned numerous fansites and parodies.”[] Although today’s influencers are not the same as those of the past, and the nature of virality has changed over time, some websites have always proved more popular than others. For historians investigating the Web of the past, the difficulty lies in measuring their audiences, both then and now. What factors caused a website to be popular in the 1990s? How did these factors change with the emergence of social media in the 2000s? How have both audience measurement techniques and the keys to a successful website changed over time? Is the very notion of popularity still the same in online media? The relationship of mainstream websites of the past with both popular culture and also commercial interests is worth examining: for example, what role did these websites play in disseminating advertisements, banners, pop-ups, etc., and also in direct or indirect sales and product placement?

We are also particularly interested in trajectories showing either a transition from marginality to popularity or a decline in mainstream sites (such as Myspace). Publication methods and spaces, which on the Web have served to connect mainstream and more marginal culture, as embodied by blogs (regardless of their popularity) or by platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, etc, are also of strong interest for this conference. Much like social media, blogs raise specific archiving problems that can also be usefully discussed.

The way in which mainstream culture is showcased online is also a research topic that interests us when it comes to this call for contributions. The portrayal of pop singers, hit films and other cultural forms on the Web, together with related fan phenomena, is worth examining in greater detail. 

Without creating a binary opposition between marginal and mainstream, the differentiation itself is nevertheless a valid topic for discussion, in both theoretical and practical terms: what markers indicate a desire for a marginal online identity, the rejection of accessibility, the elitism of some websites or their efforts to stand out by shunning existing codes or promoting others? On the Web, marginal trends find forms of expression that set them apart from traditional, more mainstream media. This possibility of expressing original or even subversive trends also needs to be analysed. Also worth exploring is the nature of the Web as a marginal culture in its early days and also as the means of expression of a marginal culture – “geek” culture – which over time has come into the mainstream.

Analysis of the heritage and preservation of both mainstream and marginal sites in Web archives will also be of particular interest for the conference. While Web archives are increasingly raising questions of representativeness and inclusiveness, the way in which “noise” and “silences” are created in archives and also the way in which gaps in Web archives can be viewed and potentially overcome are topics that would be welcome, as well as contributions highlighting gaps in the research agenda of Web histories.


Submissions may relate to, but are not limited by, the following topics:

  • Historicizing the Web and digital cultures
  • Paths taken or not taken
  • The measurement and evolution of website audiences
  • Success stories and failures in the Web of the past
  • Past and vanished glories of Web services
  • Website dynamics, updates and changes
  • Mainstream content on the WebMainstream culture online
  • Fan communities online
  • Past success stories of personal websites
  • Past examples of buzz and bad buzz created on the Web
  • Online virality and its evolution
  • Influencers of the past
  • Commercial vs non-commercial Web
  • Forgotten and marginalised Web cultures
  • Margins and counter-cultures in the Web of the past
  • Research methods for studying the archived Web and its reception
  • Noises and silences in Web archives
  • Inclusiveness in Web archives
  • Gaps in Web archives
  • Future histories and the archive of tomorrow
  • Gaps in the research agenda of Web histories and future prospects


Submissions are welcome from all fields and disciplines, and we would particularly encourage postgraduate students and early career researchers to participate.

There will be the possibility to present papers online.

  • Individual papers of 15 minutes (500-word abstract and a short author biography of 100-150 words).
  • Panel sessions consisting of three individual papers, introduced by a chair (500-word abstract for each paper, a brief 300-word description of the purpose of the panel and a short author biography of 100-150 words for each speaker).
  • Posters, demonstrations and audio/video/interactive installations (short abstract of no more than 400 words, a list of AV or other requirements and a short author biography of 100-150 words).
  • Pre-conference workshops to be held on June 14  (a 400-word rationale for the workshop, including a discussion of why the topic lends itself to a workshop format, and a short author biography of 100-150 words for the workshop organiser(s)).

The deadline for submissions is 13 November 2020.

Proposals have to be submitted at :

Acceptance will be on the basis of a double-blind peer review.

A special issue of Internet Histories based on selected contributions will be published after the conference.


  • 14 June 2021 – RESAW pre-conference workshops
  • followed by the IIPC conference (15-16 June 2021)
  • 17–18 June 2021 – RESAW conference

No Fees for participation

Organising Committee

  • Frédéric Clavert, C²DH, University of Luxembourg
  • Valérie Schafer, C²DH, University of Luxembourg

In collaboration with the RESAW Conference Committee

  • Niels Brügger, Aarhus University (organiser 2015)
  • Jane Winters, University of London (organiser 2017)
  • Anne Helmond, University of Amsterdam (organiser 2019)
  • Sophie Gebeil, University of Aix-Marseille (coming organiser 2023)

Programme Committee

  • Susan Aasman, University of Groningen, NL
  • Gerard Alberts, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • Gabriele Balbi, Università della Svizzera italiana, SW
  • Anat Ben-David, The Open University of Israel, IL
  • Paolo Bory, Politecnico di Milano, IT
  • Sally Chambers, Ghent University, BE
  • Marten Düring, University of Luxembourg, LU
  • Ben Els, Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg, LU
  • Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
  • Sebastian Gießmann, University of Siegen, GE
  • Daniel Gomes,, PT
  • Fabienne Greffet, University of Lorraine, FR
  • Sharon Healy, Maynooth University, IR
  • Pavel Ircing, University of West Bohemia, CZ
  • Ian Milligan, University of Waterloo, CA
  • Federico Nanni, The Alan Turing Institute, UK
  • Janne Nielsen, Aarhus University, DK
  • Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute, UK
  • Marta Severo, University of Paris Nanterre, FR
  • Michael Stevenson, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • Benjamin Thierry, Sorbonne University, FR
  • Eveline Vlassenroot, Ghent University, BE
  • Peter Webster, Webster Research & Consulting, UK
  • Gerben Zaagsma, University of Luxembourg, LU


For further information, please contact Prof. Valérie Schafer,