A conference exploring the concept of the Web as a material

March 20th, 2020 — Reykjavik, Iceland

20+ years of the Web and we are still at the very beginning of understanding and implementing digitization. For the first time we are facing a generation that never got to know the offline world. By nature they are riding the wave without ever having touched the ground. We might have unlearned our ancestors' knowledge about materials and crafts, it's easy to overlook the intrinsic characteristics of the Web in favour of the newest framework or boilerplate.

Let's re-explore the material Web and evaluate what we have learned so far. Join us in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a trip through history, views and cultures.

The Web as a material

For centuries we've worked with wood, metal, glass, ceramic, paper, textiles. More recently, new materials have emerged; plastics, fiberglass, silicon, and more. We understand their limitations, their affordances. We can fold, heat, manipulate and warp some of these materials. But the Internet and the Web are still very new to us. We don't fully understand them as a material.

What does this mean for the Web? What are the properties of the Web as a Material?

We have lost the apprentice / master relationship in the digital world. Spending years getting our hands dirty with an expert, learning slowly and really understanding the material rather than the framework. We need to be asking ourselves what sacrifices should we be making for the convenience of our customers rather than shortcuts for ourselves.

What properties of materialness exists in the Web is what this conference is meant to explore.


The conference will be a day long mix of presentations and fun little side-shows from both international and local speakers.

Photo of Rune Madsen
Rune Madsen

Rune Madsen

Rune is a designer, artist, and educator who uses programming languages to create things with the computer. He is a co-founder of Design Systems International, a design studio that specializes in code-based design projects including non-trivial interfaces, custom design tools, design systems, and cross-media branding. Rune has worked as a developer at the New York Times, as Director of Software Development and Creative Director for O’Reilly Media, and as Assistant Arts Professor at New York University. He is also the author of Programming Design Systems, a book that explores the foundations of graphic design through programming languages, and the JavaScript framework Rune.js.

Photo of Charlie Owen
Charlie Owen

Charlie Owen

Charlie is a front-end dev manager and Brexit escapee living in Berlin. She has attained notoriety for her foul mouthed tirades on social media, and for making fun of the privileged excesses of the tech industry. She advocates for a simpler approach to the web, and writes about how vital empathy and kindness are in building sites for our fellow humans.

Keep In Touch — Material newsletter

Please sign-up for our email newsletter so we can let you know about new developments.