Theorizing the Web is an inter- and non-disciplinary annual conference that brings together scholars, journalists, artists, activists, and technology practitioners to think conceptually and critically about the interrelationships between the Web and society. We deeply value public engagement, and consider insights from academics, non-academics, and non-“tech theorists” alike to be equally valuable.

Theorizing the Web 2018

April 27–28 in New York City

At the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, Queens

The #TtW18 planning committee

Site design by Imp Kerr. Built by Gabi Schaffzin.

We are in the process of moving our archives, which contain speaker lists and schedules, to our new site. In the meantime you can check out the last few years’ video archives.

Here's some photos from previous TtWs:



Photos by Aaron Thompson


The Basics

Will there be Wi-Fi?

Oh yeah.

Who runs this thing?

#TtW18 is put together by the Organizing Committee in conjunction with our host institution the Museum for the Moving Image. You can learn about the Organizing Committee members here, and MoMI here.

Where is TtW taking place?

For the third year in a row, Theorizing the Web will be hosted by the Museum of the Moving Image. It’s in the neighborhood of Astoria, in the borough of Queens, in New York City, in the state of New York, in the United States of America, on planet Earth in the Sol system.

I don’t plan on presenting. Do I have to register?

Yes. Even if you’re just going to watch over the live stream we like to get a sense of who is watching. We don’t sell your data or anything, we’re just curious! Please register.

I submitted a proposal to speak using the submission form. Does that mean I am registered?

Nope! You gotta register separately. (Sorry.)

Can I bring my kids?

Yes! Though, some of the presentations might have age-sensitive material.

Will there be on-site childcare?

Unfortunately, at this time, we have not found a way to provide on-site childcare. We consider this to be a problem and if you know of a facility or service around the Museum of the Moving Image let us know: theorizingtheweb@gmail.com. Please contact us beforehand if you think you’d want a place to bring a crying baby or a private place for nursing.

I’m an artist! Can I show my work at TtW?

The Museum of the Moving Image has a curatorial staff that we work with. Contact us at theorizingtheweb@gmail.com and we’ll pass your info along to our friends at MoMI.

Can I volunteer to help out at TtW?

Aren’t you sweet! Mail us at theorizingtheweb@gmail.com if you would like to help out with our all-volunteer event in any way.

Do you have a hashtag?

Do people still use those things? Let’s go with #TtW18.  

Submissions and Presentations

When are submissions due?

Sunday, February 4, 2018 (11:59 p.m. EST). The deadline will not be extended.

Where can I submit my proposal?

Submissions are closed at this time. Please write us next year!

How long should my submission be?

Submissions should be no more than 500 words (only the first 500 words will be reviewed). A formal references / works cited list is not necessary.

Who should submit to present at Theorizing the Web?

If you have a thoughtful, concise, and original thing to say about technology and society, each defined as broadly as you’d like, we want to read your abstract. Theorizing the Web is an inter- and non-disciplinary annual event that brings together scholars, journalists, artists, activists, and technology practitioners to think conceptually and critically about the interrelationships between the Web and society. We deeply value public engagement, and consider insights from academics, non-academics, and non-“tech theorists” alike to be equally valuable.

How are presenters chosen? Does submitting guarantee I’ll get to present?

Not everyone who submits will get to present. Presentation slots are allocated on a competitive basis. Organizing Committee members receive a randomized list of anonymized abstracts and assign a numerical score based on a standardized evaluation rubric. Acceptances are determined based on these scores and topical fit in order to build coherent panels. Acceptance rates in previous years were about 25%. Our keynote panels consist of invited speakers selected by the Committee.

Are full papers required in order to present?

No. Full papers will not be required in order to present.

What is the presentation format?

12-minute talks in a panel setting. You will have access to a Mac computer running PowerPoint connected to a projector. Panels will be live streamed. There is an audience Q & A for the whole panel at the end of the session.

What makes a really good, competitive submission?

Successful submissions will provide a specific, original argument with clear stakes. Your submission should not only describe your topic or ask a question but also summarize your theoretical approach and your conclusions. Note that, because Theorizing the Web deeply values public engagement, we expect all TtW presentations to be both comprehensible and rewarding to people from outside your specific area of expertise. Your title should appeal to a general audience, which means reducing jargon as much as possible and being very clear about the subject of your presentation.

What are some common mistakes people make in their submissions?

Frequent mistakes in past abstracts include: asking questions without answering them; stating “I will make an argument about X” without making the argument; giving lots of context without actually describing your argument; and making sweeping claims that are interesting but could not possibly be explored within the 12-minute presentation format.

The subject matter I want to present on contains sensitive images. How do you handle that sort of thing?

Accepted submissions are reviewed for possible sensitive material—including but not limited to third parties’ private photos, personal information, and extremely graphic images. If we think there’s something worth talking about, a Committee member will reach out via email. The goal of the Committee in this regard is to help the presenter navigate the high-visibility context of TtW by seeking to prevent instances of recrimination and/or privacy violations of research subjects, while still sharing valuable information and ideas. And please let us know ahead of time if you think this might apply to your submission.

I just submitted! When do I hear back?

You should expect a decision letter sometime in late February or early March.

Can I submit more than one abstract? What about co-authoring?

You may submit only ONE sole-authored abstract. You may submit a second abstract if one or both are co-authored, but you may not present more than one paper at the event. So, if you’re super awesome and you had a co-authored and a single-authored submission get accepted, you’ll have to pick which one you want to present at the conference. Because of space limitations, there is a limit of THREE total authors for any submission.

Can I propose a panel of multiple speakers?

Sorry, no. The Organizing Committee puts together the panels and evaluates submitted papers on an individual basis.


Who pays for Theorizing the Web?

Our pay-what-you-can registration fees go toward food, drinks, print materials, live video streaming, travel, website hosting, design, and other odds and ends. Snap has covered the venue costs for the last five years without any editorial participation, for which we remain very grateful. Real Life magazine is also a sponsor this year, and we’d like to thank past partners and hosts, including The New Inquiry, the University Of Maryland Department Of Sociology, the University of Maryland iSchool, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the University of Maryland’s Stamp Student Union, CUNY’s Just Publics 365 initiative, the International Center for Photography and Windmill Studios.

How much does it cost to attend TtW?

Registration for Theorizing the Web remains “pay what you can,” and we ask that you donate whatever amount you deem fair or can afford (minimum $1). We are using these funds to provide some food and drinks during the event, to cover costs associated with conference proceedings and video archives, and for other expenditures related to the event. More information (including the registration form) can be found on our registration page.

Can I make my registration donation using PayPal? Venmo?

Yes, we can accept registration fee payments from both PayPal and Venmo. In fact, at the moment, it is the only way we accept money.

Do you have a suggested registration fee amount?

We can’t put a number on our (or your) love of theory. Anything over $1 helps.

Can you help me cover my travel costs?

Unfortunately we cannot provide direct monetary assistance for accepted participants’ or attendees’ travel costs at this time. However, every year we encourage participants (many of which reside in NYC) to use the conference hashtag to arrange couch crashing and other forms of mutual aid.

Privacy and Conduct

If I present at Theorizing the Web where will people be able to find my presentation?

TtW is a very public-facing event. You will definitely have your presentation title listed on the website and in the program. The name, bio statement, and photo you send us will also be on the site. Each year we archive the site and keep it publicly available. Presentations are live streamed to the best of our ability and whatever is streamed is also saved and put on YouTube and archive.org. You should also expect audience members to record, photograph, Tweet, or otherwise share your work and perhaps your likeness on social media.

Will there be cameras at this event?

TtW is a very public-facing event. All panels will be video recorded and streamed live. Attendees also love to take photos at TtW, so you might get caught in some of those.

Does TtW have a statement outlining what constitutes harassment and how the Committee will handle incidents of harassment?

Of course! Here it is:

anti-harassment statement

In the spirit of being both proactive and inclusive, it is important that we communicate the Organizing Committee’s commitment to providing a harassment-free space for participants of all races, gender and trans statuses, sexual orientations, physical abilities, physical appearances, body sizes, and beliefs. Harassment includes, but is not limited to: deliberate intimidation; stalking; unwanted photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. We ask you, as participants, to be mindful of how you interact with others—and to remember that harassment isn’t about what you intend, but about how your words or actions are received.

In keeping with a central theme of Theorizing the Web, we also want to remind you that what is said online is just as “real” as what is said verbally.

By attending Theorizing the Web, you agree to maintain and support our conference as a harassment-free space. If you feel that someone has harassed you or otherwise treated you inappropriately, or you feel you have witnessed inappropriate or harassing behavior, please alert any member of the Organizing Committee (identifiable by our committee pins; you can also find photos of all Committee members on our “Participants” page). If an attendee engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any lawful action we deem appropriate, including but not limited to warning the offender or asking the offender to leave the conference. We welcome your feedback, and we thank you for working with us to make this a safe, enjoyable, and welcoming experience for everyone who participates.

note: this statement has been revised in line with the helpful feedback [here and here] in the notes below. thanks! :)