This is the project site for the Cultural History of the Internet course at Johns Hopkins University.

A collective project, it takes a critical approach to internet history, considering a wide spectrum of cultural practices involved in web services and apps, while exploring questions of access and algorithmic bias. It takes an interest in not only the common narratives of innovation, extending from the military infrastructure of ARPANET to the nineties dot-com boom to the emerging internet of things, but also the host of dead ends and lost sites, net ephemera, and once thriving web cultures that risk being forgotten.

The course’s guiding framework is the circuit of culture approach developed by du Gay et al. (1997), which emphasizes the role of meaning in the creation of cultural commodities and outlines five interconnected areas for analyzing any cultural object: “how it is represented, what social identities are associated with it, how it is produced and consumed, and what mechanisms regulate its distribution and use” (3). Significantly, it is an approach that developed in the same cultural moment as the internet was coming into everyday life and might itself be seen as an artifact of that moment.

Taught by Kyle Stine.

Exploring the Geocities Site ‘Stars and Bars’ 

On opening the Geocities site ‘Stars and Bars’, one is greeted with a background collage of confederate flags through history. “Not Everyone Considers The Confederate Battle Flag To Be A Symbol Of Hate,” declares the opening page, above a picture of a black protestor carrying the confederate flag and sign reading “Heritage not Hate”. The…

John Wall’s Organic Interpretations of Nature on GeoCities

Located in the forgotten corners of the internet, once prevalent and vivacious GeoCities pages ranging from sports statistics, finance advice, and holiday vacations sit dormant. The vacant neighborhoods that once pulsed with life and interaction have been abandoned. Now, only the excavation of these pages, frozen in time, is able to expand on their meaning…

Writing Identity and Readership in Transformative Works: Fan Creations on GeoCities

Introduction: In order to best understand the role of identity and consumption within the “neighborhood” of fan culture and creators on GeoCities, I chose to study 14 separate GeoCities sites: “Deenalynn’s Fanfic Corner,” “Star Wars: Rising Tide,” “Joshua Dyal Fan Fiction Page,” “Bill Scully Fanfic Archive,” “Tiffany Park’s Fanfiction,” “Susanne’s Fanfic,” “eXtremis X-files,” “Sheshat’s Online…