Call for Participation & A Decade of Web Design

We would like to invite you to contribute to the online collective web design history timeline. This project wants to map your first encounters with the world wide web. It is part of a larger project entitled A Decade of Webdesign that culminates into an international conference in Amsterdam, January 21-22, 2005.

Open History Timeline
As a core part of the project, beginning before and continuing after the conference we will initiate an ‘open research’ website/database into the first decade of web design. The online forum will take the form of a visual and textual timeline generated out of a self-customizable questionnaire.

Using a custom content management system the site will allow for:
• Users to add images, comments and links to make a collective history of the web as it developed. Such elements might include histories of their own first homepage; the first use of a technology; original html code; reminiscences of key designers, innovators, critics and technologists.
• Using a question based interface users can write their own questions and respond to those of others. All questions entered will then be available, ensuring that no one set of views or way of writing predominates.
• Multi-lingual use.

The site is designed for use both by the general public and as a simple structured tool which can be used for both research and teaching. This project is intended to be of interest to a broad range of disciplines from design to computer science and from history to sociology. If you are a teacher we would like to invite you to consider integrating this site into your curriculum, as a piece of independent research for students, as a set workshop, or as the basis of a sustained project.

Until recently web design discourses have been dominated by a frantic, market driven search for the latest and coolest. The ongoing media buzz around ‘demo design’ has prevented serious scholarship from happening. Technical innovations such as frames, shockwave, flash, WAP and 3G have dominated the field. Until 2001 a substantial part of the sector’s activities was geared towards instruction and consultancy. The dotcom crash and IT slump have cleared the field-but not necessary in positive ways. Due to budget cuts firms now believe they can do without design altogether. Instead of asking ourselves what the Next Big Thing will be, we firmly believe that future design can be found in its recent past that offers a rich mix of utopian concepts and undigested controversies.
In short, these ten years of web design has seen design change as much as it has seen the impact of a new form of global media. We want to celebrate this and to use a consideration and testing of the recent past to provide a platform for thinking about what is to come. In this, the conference will be unprecedented, the first event of its kind.

Sessions for the event will be:
-Histories of Web Design
What do social, technical and cultural historians propose as ways to make an account of the last decade?
-Meaning Structures
As automated site-design becomes increasingly important the history of the interweaving of technology and culture up to the point of semantic engineering is mapped out
-Modeling the User
Creativity and usability have often been set up as the two key poles of web design. This panel asks instead for a more sophisticated narrative about the change in understanding of user needs and desires over the last ten years
– Digital Work
Following on from the Digital Work seminar this panel brings together key observers and critics of the changing patterns of work in web design along with designers
– Distributed Design
The web amplified an explosion on non-professional design. This panel will ask what happens to design once it becomes a non-specialist network process.

Confirmed Speakers
Michael Indergaard, John Chris Jones, Peter Luining, Peter Lunenfeld, Geke van der Wal, Franziska Nori, Danny O’Brien (NTK), Danny O’Brien, Steven Pemberton, Helen Petrie, Ros Gill, Adrian McKenzie, Schoenerwissen/OfCD, Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales, etc.
Further speakers are yet to be confirmed.

Media Design Research, Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam,
Institute of Network Cultures, Hogeschool van Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Register by sending an email to