#AoIR2024 Call for Proposals


Sheffield’s history is forged in industry, with steel and metal-working historically dominating the city’s economy. In recognition of this history and in response to the present moment in the development of the internet and digital technologies, the conference theme for #AoIR2024 be Industry.

The relationship between the internet and industry has been one characterised by competing interests, from hacker cultures and open source movements to a Californian ideology deriving its impetus from neoliberalism. Within and beyond the Americas, we witness diverse experiences of the internet and its connections to industry. These range from digital technologies being used for rural social entrepreneurship to threats of monopolisation and anti-competition, the rise of the influencer economy to the emergence of global supply chains of AI. As such, the 2024 AoIR conference addresses the place of industry within internet research, and as a research site, subject, and partner.

Industry is understood and approached differently in different parts of the world. In some contexts, it is seen as an expression of human autonomy to innovate and create, while in others as a consolidation of resources and an exercise of corporate power to lobby. While some countries have national programmes aimed at harnessing the digital and data economies, others aim to streamline digital industries through regulation. The emergence and consolidation of platforms and their influence across sectors and walks of life enables us to grapple with the digital industries in the everyday and on a global scale. The laying of underwater cables that mirror imperial geographies to the setting up of content moderation and data annotation firms in the Global South propel us to bring into this context questions of labour and the digital, extraction and accumulation, and inequities that get amplified along intersectional lines to produce multiple marginalities.

Industry features in and is inextricably linked to researching the internet. Drawing on long-standing conversations on administrative and critical research, research in the industry and academia have each been approached differently, withindustry often viewed as non-academic with profit and product refinement being a driving motive. But the rise of the neoliberal academe and the precariousness of academic labour complicates these neat divides. Further, the rise of EdTech and GenerativeAI have knowledge and creative workers at a crossroads, offering opportunities and roadblocks.

Drawing on these reflections, we encourage diverse conceptualisations and approaches to aid our exploration of the connections between industry and the internet. We ask: How does industry shape, support, and limit digital technologies? What industries have arisen – and disappeared – through the use of digital technologies? What does the individual and collective industry of the people using digital technologies mean for the development of digital cultures, practices, and futures? In the process, we particularly look to studies that critically expand and challenge our understandings of internet industries, the industrial and the digital, and being industrious online, especially from global perspectives.

We welcome submissions on the following themes and beyond:

  • The industry and infrastructure underpinning the internet
  • The creation and sustainability of online / digital industries
  • The industriousness behind creative practice and community online
  • The impact of the industrial on the digital / (post-)industrial legacies within digital contexts
  • The industries that emerge from digital contexts (esp. locally, regionally)
  • Resistance towards digital industries
  • Explorations of and reflection on relationships and collaborations between academia and industry
  • Making the internet, making with the internet, and/or making on the internet
  • The political economy of digital industries
  • Labour and digital contexts
  • Histories of industry that contributed to the digital/data industries

We also welcome submissions on topics that address social, cultural, political, legal, aesthetic, economic, and/or philosophical aspects of the internet beyond the conference theme. The committee extends a special invitation to students, researchers, and practitioners who have previously not participated in an AoIR event to submit proposals, and to scholars from the Global South, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color globally, LGBTQIA+ peoples, scholars living with disabilities, and people outside or adjacent to the academy.