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Fwd: [Humanist] 34.56: pubs: Dead and Dying Platforms cfp

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    Matthew K. Gold

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    From: Humanist <>
    Date: Tue, May 26, 2020 at 3:04 AM
    Subject: [Humanist] 34.56: pubs: Dead and Dying Platforms cfp
    To: <>

    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 56.
    Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London
    Hosted by King’s Digital Lab
    Submit to:

    Date: 2020-05-26 06:45:56+00:00
    From: Willard McCarty <>
    Subject: CFP: Dead and Dying Platforms: The Poetics, Politics, and
    Perils of Internet History | Deadline Sept. 1

    Call for papers:
    Dead and Dying Platforms: The Poetics, Politics, and Perils of Internet
    Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society (

    Muira McCammon & Jessa Lingel (University of Pennsylvania)

    Rationale & Motivation

    This special issue explores internet histories through the lens of
    “platform death” as a way of understanding how digital communities grapple
    with absence, invisibility, and disappearance. Collectively, the
    contributions in this issue will address the cultural, geopolitical,
    economic, and socio-legal repercussions of what happens when various
    corners of the Internet fail, decline, or expire. As a point of departure,
    we assume that platforms can bring together a wide set of actors, from
    politicians to parents, teens to technologists, spies to free speech
    activists; they can serve as a stage where people gather, argue, develop
    personal relationships, and jockey for divergent futures (Marvin, 1988;
    Pearce, 2011; Baym, 2015; Lee, 2017; Gillepsie, 2018). But what becomes of
    platforms when they fade, fail, or fall from public favor? What can dead
    and dying platforms tell us about the internet’s growth and stagnation, its
    present and futures? We seek to complicate, document, and build on the
    narratives of platform change, collapse, death, precarity, and frailty that
    scholars (Gehl, 2012; Chun, 2016; Belleflamme & Neysen, 2017; Gomez-Meijia,
    2018; Helmond & van der Vlist, 2019) and tech journalists (Kircher, 2016)
    have highlighted over the past two decades.

    Recent scholarship has focused on the rise and resilience of certain tech
    enterprises, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (e.g. Burgess & Green,
    2009; Vaidhyanathan, 2018; Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2020), but
    much of this research has privileged big platforms over the small,
    surviving digital communities over the dead, and Silicon
    Valley-born-and-bred design thinking over that birthed outside tech hot
    spots. Studies imagining the demise of Big Tech platforms (Ohman &
    Aggarwal, 2019) and tracing consumer resistance to digital media (Katz &
    Aspden, 1998; Portwood-Stacer, 2013) have largely ignored both the values
    and frailties of Small Tech in great depth. While historical and
    contemporary research has addressed the themes of digital departure (Wyatt,
    1999; Baumer et al., 2013), disappearing mediums (Gehl, 2012; Suominen et
    al., 2013; Ballatore & Natale, 2016), and user mortality (Leaver, 2013), it
    has largely left the theme of “platform death” to the wayside. Another key
    absence in this literature is attention to platforms and communities
    outside the U.S. and Europe.

    With the above gaps in the literature in mind, the impetus for this special
    issue came from a forthcoming panel in the Communication History Division
    at the May 2020 International Communication Association’s Annual
    Conference, “Dead and Dying Platforms: The Poetics, Politics, and Perils of
    Internet History.” When organizing the panel, over 20 different scholars in
    six countries writing on the histories of specific, bounded platforms
    expressed interest. Though not all could be included in the final panel,
    many articulated a desire to contribute to a special issue, such as this
    one, focusing on the promises and perils of single platforms through the
    lens of Internet history. This special issue seeks to bring together
    diverse thinkers and scholars with expertise in a range of dead and dying

    Description of CFP Procedure

    We aim to bring together contributors active in the fields of history,
    communication, media studies, law, economics, psychology, internet studies,
    library and information science, queer theory, journalism studies, and
    related scholarly domains. The topic of contributions may include, but are
    not limited to:

    – The rise and fall of specific platforms, including discussions on the
    challenges, factors, and policies responsible for their decline – and
    – Archival techniques and theoretical frameworks for resurrecting and
    reimagining dead platforms
    – Comparative investigations of platform precarity
    – Explorations of the laws, economic forces, and social trends that
    underlie the historical analysis of platforms that have survived to the
    present day
    – Memory narratives and counter-narratives of platform users, designers,
    and advertisers
    – Media refusal, disconnection and techno-skepticism
    – The offline repercussions and cultural reverberations of platform
    – Rhetorics and metaphors of the describe platform death and failures of
    platform governance (i.e. kill switches)
    – The ethnographies, pre-histories, and afterlives of dying digital
    – Quantitative and qualitative methodologies that can operationalize
    platform collapse
    – Interconnections between the frailties of Small Tech and the failures
    of Big Tech
    – Ways in which the rise and fall of certain platforms are
    geographically asymmetrical and asynchronous
    – Media change, materiality, everyday experience, and nostalgia
    – The ontological and epistemological challenges of considering
    platforms as dead, dying, or alive
    – Historiographies of platforms created, used, and/or dismantled outside
    the United States
    – Studies of platforms whose deaths have not received significant
    Anglophone press coverage
    – Analysis of the implications of platform death for international and
    global discussions of Internet pasts and futures

    Although papers do need to be written in English, we especially welcome
    writing that explores platforms whose histories are rooted in understudied
    countries, areas, cultures, and digital communities. We particularly
    encourage submissions about platforms launched, used and/or remembered
    outside of Silicon Valley.

    Submissions & Time Schedule

    Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be emailed to by
    September 1, 2020. Any questions about the CFP can be sent to the
    co-editors, Muira McCammon ( and Jessa Lingel
    ( Notification about acceptance to submit an
    article will be sent out by 1 October 2020. Authors of accepted abstracts
    are invited to submit an article by 1 February 2021. Final versions or
    articles are asked to keep within a 6,000 word limit. Please note that
    acceptance of abstract does not ensure final publication as all articles
    must go through the journal’s usual peer review process.

    — 1 Sep 2020: due date for abstracts
    — 1 Oct 2020: notification of acceptance
    — 1 Feb 2021: accepted articles to be submitted for review
    — Feb 2021-May 2021: review process and revisions

    List info and archives at at:
    Subscribe at:

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