Europäische Zeitgeschichte

Web History in Context

The presence now of the Web in every area of life demands studies which constitute it simultaneously both as itself a contextualising object and as anchored in a context. Contextualising because today it directly influences an infinite number of objects, which can no longer be studied without taking account of their echoes online. In transmedia dynamics in particular, we can see how the Web is increasingly becoming an ever-present backdrop to controversies, to the configuration of information and even to interpersonal relationships.
Equally, the Web must find its own contextualisation, first of all – since we are historians – from a diachronic perspective. The first challenge is not to remain within the limits set by the technology itself.
This twofold approach (the Web in context and the Web as context) suggests how focused we need to be on the construction of an ever-changing socio-technical reality – a return to a totalising, process-focused history which takes account of ongoing developments. We should resist the effects of any discourse tending to fix realities or establish, in hieratic or metonymic fashion, an image of ‘THE’ Web.
The present analysis falls into three main sections, which interrogate, in turn, the diachronic or temporal contextualisation, the boundaries or spatial contextualisation, and finally collective and individual experiences of the Web.

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