Web Histories in the making: Web Archives & the Logics of Practice

Johannes Paßmann*, Lisa Gerzen, Martina Schories, Jessica Ogden, Emily Maemura, Katherine MacKinnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Historically-situated accounts of the Web have a long history within the field of internet studies. Drawing on diverse methodologies and forms of data, web histories of platforms, cultures and communities of practice have illuminated the rich, but often transient and shifting nature of life online. Many web histories rely upon researchers capturing, collecting, and generating their own data through time, though some have also engaged with web archives as a means for studying the past online. However, web archive data have never fulfilled the requirements of positivist ideals such as ‘representativeness’ or objectivity, and the methodological consequences of this observation currently do not go far enough. This panel aims to shift and reframe current discussions of the ‘promise’ of web archives for web historiography, towards identifying what underlying logics or ideals drive and motivate various actors engaged in this work. We argue that not only do the logics underpinning the practices of collecting and archiving the Web deserve further attention, but also the practices of internet researchers who aim to use these materials for studying the Web. Each paper contribution in this panel builds on web archive criticism by situating archived web material as fundamentally tied to the logics of practice. These underpinnings affect not only the formation of web archives, but also the methodological approaches researchers take. We therefore suggest new ways for conceptualising the ‘doing’ of web histories, tying them to an assemblage of people, practice and data that shape how we can come to understand the Web.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research
Subtitle of host publicationAoIR2023: The 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers.
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia, PA, USA
PublisherAssociation of Internet Researchers
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Structured keywords

  • Digital Societies


  • web archives
  • web histories
  • web archives criticism


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