Die Werte der Digital Humanities in ihren Institutionen

von Fabian Cremer, Cindarella Petz, Teresa Wendel und Thorsten Wübbena

Seit der Genese der Digital Humanities wird in der Community um das methodische und kulturelle Selbstverständnis gerungen, unter anderem durch die Formulierung gemeinsamer Werte und die Formierung institutioneller Verankerung. Dieser Beitrag untersucht den Schnittpunkt beider Aspekte: Gelten die gemeinsamen Werte der DH auch für und in den Institutionen der DH? Diese Frage wird anhand eines Datensatzes institutioneller Selbstkonzepte von ausgewählten DH-Zentren mithilfe eines Mixed-Methods-Ansatzes untersucht. „Die Werte der Digital Humanities in ihren Institutionen“ weiterlesen

Competing demands: on combining different activities during my Postdoc

A small project called Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne in Daten (FriVer+) ran at the DH Lab in 2023. The main aim of this project was to transform the data that had been gathered during an earlier project, Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne online, and that was stored in an SQL-database, into XML and make it publicly available. All of this was done in accordance with the FAIR principles. The various activities this project comprised are already explained in another blog on the Text+-blog as well as in the project documentation. Hence I won’t reiterate all this information here. Instead, I would like to offer a short reflection on the advantages and challenges of combining a project like FriVer+ with my role as Postdoc at IEG Mainz.

„Competing demands: on combining different activities during my Postdoc“ weiterlesen

Seasons of Green DH and Thirsty Computing

Talking about the weather used to be an innocent topic suitable for small talk. These days, this became a political issue, the existence of snow being populistically framed in order to negate climate change, completely misrepresenting its processes.

„Seasons of Green DH and Thirsty Computing“ weiterlesen

Autumn Beginnings: My New DH-Season at the IEG in Mainz

by Tetiana Shyshkina

Autumn, in my mind, is like a beautiful story about the end of the year. It’s a time when things start to cool down and nature gets ready to rest. Starting in August, the leaves slowly change from green to gold and copper. At the same time, German stores fill up with Christmas treats and decorations. It’s as if they’re quietly saying that the peaceful autumn is just the beginning of something special and bright. Amidst this time of anticipatory waiting and a touch of melancholic premonition, I commence my fellowship, opening what I anticipate being one of the most productive and significant chapters of my life. „Autumn Beginnings: My New DH-Season at the IEG in Mainz“ weiterlesen

Vom Kaffeeholen zur Meisterbarista: Praxiserfahrung in den Digital Humanities

von Merle-Sophie Thoma und Teresa Wendel

Praxiserfahrungen spielen schon lange eine Rolle beim Übergang von Ausbildung zu beruflichem Alltag. Vom 16. Jahrhundert, in dem ein Praktikant noch jemand war, der sich mit fragwürdigen Praktiken beschäftigte, bis zum heutigen Verständnis der praktischen Erfahrung, das von der Ära „Generation Praktikum“ geprägt ist – das Absolvieren mehrerer, oft schlecht oder gar nicht vergüteter Praktika, ohne dass diese zu einer festen Anstellung führen. Während sich die Zeiten ändern, bleibt das Bild bestehen: Praktikant:innen als unerfahrene, ausgenutzte Arbeitskräfte, die frustrierende Büroarbeiten erledigen, Kaffee holen und Kopien machen – man denke etwa an „Der Teufel trägt Prada“.

Anstelle eines verpflichtenden Praktikums ist im Mainzer Masterstudiengang „Digitale Methodik in den Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften“ das Absolvieren eines Praxisprojektes vorgesehen. Mit dem Blick auf die Rolle von Praxiserfahrungen, wirft das Fragen auf: Was bedeutet es, wenn im Curriculum ein Praxisprojekt verankert ist? Wie unterscheidet sich dieses von den üblichen Praktika? Welche Vor- und Nachteile bringen Praxisprojekte mit sich? Was sollte man bei der Durchführung eines Praxisprojekts berücksichtigen? Und vor allem: Welche Rolle spielen Praxisprojekte im Kontext der Digital Humanities?

„Vom Kaffeeholen zur Meisterbarista: Praxiserfahrung in den Digital Humanities“ weiterlesen

Wie Historiker:innen arbeiten. Einblicke in die Projektlehre im DigiKAR-Projektseminar

von Lara Beringer

Häufig laufen Lehrveranstaltungen nach einem bestimmten Schema ab: Die Themen der Seminare und einzelnen Sitzungen stehen bereits fest, während des Semesters werden von den Dozent:innen vorab ausgewählte Quellen und Literatur gelesen und vorbereitet, meist hält man ein Referat, eine Sitzungsleitung o. Ä., um seine aktive Teilnahme zu erlangen und am Ende des Semesters schreibt man eine Hausarbeit, die nach der Lektüre durch die Dozent:innen für immer in der Versenkung verschwindet. Während diese Abläufe bewährt sind und insbesondere am Anfang des Studiums die Grundlage für späteres wissenschaftliches Arbeiten schaffen, sind sie im fortgeschrittenen Studium immer häufiger repetitiv, frustrierend und weit entfernt von der eigentlichen Arbeitsweise von Historiker:innen.

Ganz anders lief ein von mir besuchtes Projektseminar im Sommersemester 2022 ab, das im Rahmen der Digital erweiterten Projektlehre (ModeLL-M) von Prof. Dr. Bettina Braun angeboten wurde. Der Titel war weit gefasst: Mobilität in Kurmainz. „Wie Historiker:innen arbeiten. Einblicke in die Projektlehre im DigiKAR-Projektseminar“ weiterlesen

The DH Lab as a living oxymoron

by Fabian Cremer and Thorsten Wübbena

Newly established DH Labs in research institutions often find themselves in a field of tension – of simultaneous and contradictory expectations, goals and missions. We would like to discuss these contradictions within their context and their implementation in concrete work, based on experiences (both failures and successes) from our own DH Lab, as we aim to offer good practices (and unsolved challenges) from the strategical and operational levels of lab management. „The DH Lab as a living oxymoron“ weiterlesen

On Learning Languages (a DH Fellowship Report)

by Ian Marino

 “My IEG fellowship experience can be summed up as a great place to learn languages.”

Emphasizing “languages” in the title of my digital humanities fellowship report may seem unusual. Yet, it has been the word resonating most during my 8-month stay in Mainz. My IEG fellowship experience can be summed up as a great place to learn languages. Let me explain.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, language is “a system of communication used by people in a particular country.” Coming from São Paulo, Brazil, living in Germany introduced me to new communication experiences. German and diverse English accents from colleagues created a unique soundscape. Working with Portuguese, Spanish, and French sources, attending (great) conferences in various cities – Budapest, Belfast, Berlin, Lisbon – exposed me to an array of languages and accents I had never encountered before.

But language goes beyond sounds and characters. It encompasses more. Ordering coffee in German and conversing in English with colleagues wasn’t enough. Germany opened a world of interconnected academic institutions-research colloquiums, DH meetings, international conferences, and academic journals – each with its own specific language. How do you frame your work to be understood in these spaces? How do you navigate the unspoken rules and influences? There was much to learn.

Another definition of language from the Cambridge Dictionary is “a system of symbols and rules for writing instructions for computers.” Working with memory projects and metadata, I knew about the importance of normalized metadata for computers – which I could improve during my stay at the IEG. But the language experience went beyond that. My mentor, Dr. Demi Vasques, patiently introduced me to programming. Additionally, the “Chat GPT Storm” accelerated the public debate regarding AI, requiring a deeper and critical understanding of its specific language.

Lastly, another layer of language emerged during my final weeks – the sensitive memories of the pandemic, which are my core sources. As a historian, dealing with traumatic historical wounds and not objectifying or victimizing those affected poses a challenge. It calls for a new ethical framework and appropriate language. I, like other historians, am still learning this language.

I express deep appreciation for my DH fellowship at IEG. It provided a fantastic environment to immerse myself in these diverse languages. Conversations with colleagues made English almost natural, and I improved my work-in-progress German. Friends helped me refine my writing skills. Conferences, colloquiums, and the DH Lab meetings taught me to navigate the institutions of this new research world. And who knows if AI tools acted as an assistant writer for this post itself?

As I finish this report in a now empty office, melancholy mixes with satisfaction. I have learned many languages at IEG, and probably more await me on my journey. For now, I can only extend a heartfelt thank you to all who made this experience so remarkable.

Aquele abraço.

Cite this article as: Ian Marino, “On Learning Languages (a DH Fellowship Report),” in Digital Humanities Lab, 29/06/2023, https://dhlab.hypotheses.org/?p=3814.

Featured image: photo by Ian Marino, all rights reserved.

Die Kunst der Entscheidung: Erfahrungen aus einem Praxisprojekt

Von Teresa Wendel

Jede und jeder von uns trifft sie mehrfach am Tag ­— eine Entscheidung. Unabhängig davon, ob es sich um alltägliche oder lebensverändernde Fragen handelt, jede Entscheidung erfordert sorgfältige Überlegungen. Bei der Planung eines bevorstehenden Projekts treten ähnliche Herausforderungen auf: Aufkommende Fragen gilt es, gut abzuwägen und sorgfältig zu überdenken, um die richtige Entscheidung für das eigene Projekt zu treffen. Denn: Eine falschen Entscheidung führt zwar nicht zwangsläufig zum Misserfolg des gesamten Projekts, bring jedoch sicherlich Probleme in Hinblick auf das Zeit- und Personalmanagement mit sich.

Genau mit dem Punkt der Entscheidungsfindung habe ich mich während meines Praxisprojekts beschäftigt, das ich von Oktober 2022 bis Januar 2023 am DH Lab des IEG zum Projekt „Forgeries x Networks“ absolviert habe. Während der vier Monate habe ich mich mit Themen rund um Datenextraktion und -modellierung, graphbasierten und relationalen Datenbanken sowie Datenqualität und -anreicherung beschäftigt und mich stets gefragt: „Was spricht dafür, was dagegen?“. „Die Kunst der Entscheidung: Erfahrungen aus einem Praxisprojekt“ weiterlesen

What is a Digital History Lab? Reflections from a trip to Lisbon

by Ian Marino and Demival Vasques Filho

Being part of a DH Lab involves questioning what constitutes this type of organism: who we are, what we do, how and why we do it. A recent workshop at the Digital Humanities Lab of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa has sparked a reflection regarding the question that entitles this blog post.1 The multiple nationalities and institutions of the researchers present there added ingredients that allowed such a question to cross European national borders and even the Atlantic Ocean.

Coming from a research-first institute at the IEG to meet labs with teaching as a chief concern may look like a mismatch. The language, the position of the labs within their main institutions, and the composition of the teams also present a situation in which it is easier to point out differences than similarities. However, the feeling of proximity spoke loudly. Why so? The answer to that may be in a combination of two seemingly out-of-place words: Digital History labs are marked by need and precariousness.

Such words make us think about materiality. Yes, many DH labs worldwide are precarious regarding physical space and hardware, not to mention the absence of stable funding for research and teaching. Such precariousness reflects global inequalities, which contribute to forging new layers of inequity in the development of knowledge within the Digital Humanities in general.2

That is one of the unfoldings of the “laboratorial turn” that defines the field’s recent growth in the last decades.3 As our host in Lisbon, Daniel Alves, defined well, the Digital Humanities are a “community of practices”: Increasingly, people are the labs, more than physical and institutionalized spaces.4

Nevertheless, we are making a different point here when we say that DH labs are marked by need and precariousness. Without proper training5, digital historians face the constant sensation of delayed understanding and following up in a continuously updating digital world.6 There is always new software, new methods, or updated versions of available tools (not to mention AI!). For example, after a workshop that presented Tropy – a new software for most of us which allows managing research photos in an unprecedented way – a conversation between the participants went more or less like this:

– We would love to know more about Omeka in our lab, but it is so hard to find time for it…
– Oh, we use it a lot here; maybe we can help you!
– Really? Thank you, that would be great!

DH labs function like mechanic workshops for cars that never stop moving. But these cars are digital, and they do not stop accelerating. DH Labs are collective ventures: We need partners and must learn from each other. That is what drove our meeting in Lisbon and drives the excitement and constant search for external collaborators in domestic events, like in the case of the IEG’s monthly event, 60 minutes of DH, for example.

There is a flipside to that. The time to catch on to the novelties is rarely available, which creates constant gaps of knowledge that lead, in turn, to the anxiety and sensation of delay that digital historians know so well. Once again, need and precariousness. The need for time, space, and funding to surpass institutional barriers and collaborate with external researchers. The precariousness of institutional structures and research agendas that do not acknowledge the need for such inter-labs partnerships.

What is a Digital History lab? In our return to the IEG, the question has stuck in our minds. The fact that we are both foreigners here and have a set date to leave only increases the perception that this issue is global. Maybe every DH researcher has similar questions and possibly different answers, which might travel around the world from lab to lab. Nevertheless, our stay in Lisbon has shown us that the possibility of interacting with peers can only increase the quality of the reflections regarding what we do, how we do it, who we are, and who we could be.

Cite this article as: Ian Marino and Demival Vasques Filho, "What is a Digital History Lab? Reflections from a trip to Lisbon," in Digital Humanities Lab, 20/04/2023, https://dhlab.hypotheses.org/3925.

Featured image: photo by Demival Vasques Filho, all rights reserved.

  1. We would like to thank to all the researchers of the DH labs that were part of this experience: the IEG’s Digital Historical Research Unit, the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, the Digital Humanities Lab, and the Center of Digital Humanities-Unicamp. Particularly, we would like to thank the researchers Agatha Bloch, Anita Lucchesi, and Joana Paulino. Finally, an especial appreciation to Daniel Alves, who received us at the Nova University’s Digital Humanities Lab. []
  2. Barbara Göbel and Christoph Müller, “Transformação digital, arquivos e assimetrias do conhecimento,” in Desigualdades interdependentes e geopolítica do conhecimento: negociações, fluxos, assimetrias, ed. Eloísa Martín and Barbara Göbel (7Letras, 2018), 132–47. []
  3. Urszula Pawlicka-Deger, “The Laboratory Turn: Exploring Discourses, Landscapes, and Models of Humanities Labs,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 014, no. 3 (September 25, 2020), http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/14/3/000466/000466.html. []
  4. Daniel Alves, “As Humanidades Digitais como uma comunidade de práticas dentro do formalismo académico: dos exemplos internacionais ao caso português,” Ler História, no. 69 (December 30, 2016): 91–103, https://doi.org/10.4000/lerhistoria.2496. []
  5. Jane Winters, “Digital History,” in Debating New Approaches to History, ed. Marek Tamm and Peter Burke (New York ; London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 277–300. []
  6. Mateus Henrique de Faria Pereira and Valdei Lopes de Araujo, “Updatism: Pandemic and Historicities in the Never-Ending 2020,” Journal of Foreign Languages and Cultures 5, no. 2 (December 28, 2021): 090–102, https://doi.org/10.53397/hunnu.jflc.202102009. []

Ontologie-Entwurfsmuster zur Modellierung raumkonstitutierender Attribute frühneuzeitlicher Orte in der Digitalen Kartenwerkstatt Altes Reich (DigiKAR)

ein Gastbeitrag von Ingo Frank (IOS Regensburg)

Ausgehend von der konzeptuellen bzw. letztlich ontologischen Frage ‚Was ist eigentlich ein Ort (im frühneuzeitlichen Alten Reich)?‘ und der damit einhergehenden konzeptuellen Modellierung mit den begrifflichen Unterscheidungen haben wir uns bei der Planung des DigiKAR-Projekts für eine Ontologie-basierte Datenmodellierung entschieden. Die Vorgehensweise setzt auf eine iterative Entwicklung von sogenannten Ontologie-Entwurfsmustern (Ontologie Design Patterns), mit denen immer wiederkehrende Modellierungsprobleme gelöst werden sollen. In diesem Beitrag werden die ortsbezogenen Ontologie-Entwurfsmuster vorgestellt und ihre Rolle für die formale Modellierung historischer Fragestellungen diskutiert. „Ontologie-Entwurfsmuster zur Modellierung raumkonstitutierender Attribute frühneuzeitlicher Orte in der Digitalen Kartenwerkstatt Altes Reich (DigiKAR)“ weiterlesen

Workshop in Villa Vigoni

by Jaap Geraerts

There’s a wonderful phrase in Dutch: “het nuttige met het aangename verenigen,” which means something like “to unite that which is useful (nuttig) with that which is pleasant (aangenaam).”  Although in general academia tends to be firmly tilted towards the former, occasionally it does happen that the coveted combination of utility and pleasantness is achieved. The week I spent at Villa Vigoni in Menaggio, Italy, together with a number of colleagues in late February/early March 2023, is a particularly great example thereof. „Workshop in Villa Vigoni“ weiterlesen

Imperial Commoners in Brazil and West Africa (1640–1822): A Global History from a Correspondence Network Perspective

By Agata Bloch and Demival Vasques Filho

After a couple of attempts, we have finally received the exciting news that our project has been recommended for funding by the Polish National Science Center! Over the next four years, we will study the communication patterns of imperial commoners (non-elite actors) who developed similar characteristics, narratives, and thought strategies in different areas of the vast Atlantic Portuguese Empire. We are interested not only in how these commoners generally behaved and displayed attitudes that transcended class and gender, but also in how imperial authorities responded to them. „Imperial Commoners in Brazil and West Africa (1640–1822): A Global History from a Correspondence Network Perspective“ weiterlesen

EuroCarto 2022 – presenting DigiKAR to the international cartographic community

a guest post by Mariam Gambashidze,
Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig

Conferences are exciting scientific events, especially if they are held in person after the long pandemic times. In September 2022, the capital of Austria, Vienna, hosted a big cartographic event: EuroCarto 2022, where I was happy to present our ongoing project  ‘Digitale Kartenwerkstatt Altes Reich’ (DigiKAR) to the scientific community. „EuroCarto 2022 – presenting DigiKAR to the international cartographic community“ weiterlesen

Digital archives of the COVID-19 pandemic: research notes

By Ian Marino

How will historians tell the history of the COVID-19 pandemic? At first, they will do so based on historical sources, as always. But how is the vast number of vestiges of such a global and traumatic event being archived? I am starting a fellowship at the IEG DH Lab to help answer questions like that as part of my PhD research, The pandemic and the digital: digital archives and memory of COVID-19 in a global perspective, conducted at the University of Campinas, Brazil. This short report will present the main topics and questions surrounding the project.

„Digital archives of the COVID-19 pandemic: research notes“ weiterlesen

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