"Remembering Disappeared Websites in China: Passion, Community, and Youth." New Media & Society, 2017.

Guobin Yang and Shinwen Wu

Disappeared websites are the missing pages of web history. This paper examines over 140 memory narratives of disappeared websites in China, in which 176 disappeared websites are remembered. The authors find that memories of disappeared websites rarely treat websites as dead objects, machines, or even as media, but more often as people whose death is mourned and memories cherished. They not only narrate the biographies of the websites but also the autobiographies of the story-tellers. The main biographical plot in these narratives of disappeared websites is a lovely life that was tragically cut short. Disappeared websites are most remembered for the passion, community, and sense of youthful idealism which they had inspired. Remembrances of disappeared websites are both retrospective and prospective. They resuscitate a lost golden age while expressing voices of protest at Internet censorship. They both highlight and repair a web history marked by disruption and disappearance.