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

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

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. []

A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 3

by

Finally, we have arrived at a comfortable depth after recounting the history of computational thought in historical research (part 1) and the development of network research (part 2).1 It is time now to delve into networks in history in part 3 of this series!
„A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 3“ weiterlesen

  1. This series draws in large parts on the chapters on historiographical perspectives on the digital humanities and network research of my dissertation (Petz 2022). []

A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 2

by

Let us resume our dive into the history of historical network research! In this (three-part series) post, I first recounted the history of computational thought in historical research, and next I will discuss networks for history, before highlighting some of the cornerstones of network methodologies in historical studies.1 This is part 2 on the development of network research.

„A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 2“ weiterlesen

  1. This series draws in large parts on the chapters on historiographical perspectives on the digital humanities and network research of my dissertation (Petz 2022). []

A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 1

by

Buckle up for a dive into the history of historical network research! In this (three-part series) post, I will recount the history of computational thought in historical research, discuss networks for history, and highlight some of the cornerstones of network methodologies in historical studies.1 Prepare for part 1 on computational thought in the historical studies.

„A (not so) short history of historical network research – part 1“ weiterlesen

  1. This series draws in large parts on the chapters on historiographical perspectives on the digital humanities and network research of my dissertation (Petz 2022). []

Projektmanagement in den Digital Humanities – World Café auf der DHd 2022

von Fabian Cremer, Swantje Dogunke, Jonathan Geiger, Anja Gerber, Anna Maria Neubert, Julian Schulz, Thorsten Wübbena

„Interdisziplinäre Wissensproduktion innerhalb der digitalen geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschung benötigt verschiedene Planungs-, Koordinierungs- und Steuerungselemente, um eine erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit zu ermöglichen.“ Diese These, aus dem Selbstverständnis und der Forschungspraxis der Digital Humanities abgeleitet, liegt unserem Beitrag zur diesjährigen Jahreskonferenz der Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum zugrunde: einem „Peer-to-Peer-Workshop zum Projektmanagement in den Digital Humanities“. Im Rahmen dieses virtuellen World Café haben sich Projektmanager:innen über methodische Fragen, individuelle Erfahrungen und institutionelle Rahmebedingungen ausgetauscht. Die Diskussionen werden in diesem Blogpost zusammengefasst. „Projektmanagement in den Digital Humanities – World Café auf der DHd 2022“ weiterlesen

A journey through time and networks: a short story from a PhD candidate at the DH Lab

by Daniela Linkevicius de Andrade

Time is a strange thing for historians. It is our object of adoration and frustration, our compass and clock. We study time, but when it comes to the time of our own lives, things get more complicated. Over the last weeks, I’ve constantly heard from other historians: “wow, time went by so fast!”. As a historian, I should know that time is subjective, but I never cease to marvel. After all, it has been eight months since I arrived in Mainz, Germany, and started my fellowship at the DH Lab, but I still find it challenging to translate and express the dimension of eight months. The effort is worth it, and I invite you to join me on a bit of a journey about my time at DH Lab. „A journey through time and networks: a short story from a PhD candidate at the DH Lab“ weiterlesen

„Experiment, Ergebnis, Erkenntnis“ – Dokumentation einer Interviewreihe zu Projektmanagement in den Digital Humanities

von Fabian Cremer, Swantje Dogunke, Thorsten Wübbena

1. Motivation

Die „DH from Scratch“-Veranstaltungen markieren auf den Tagungen des Verbandes „Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum“ aktuelle Diskussions- und Handlungsfelder, die sich aus der Koordination digitaler Forschung ergeben. Die vDHd2021 bot Gelegenheit, den Blick thematisch auf das Projektmanagement zu richten und methodisch eine experimentelle und virtuelle Herangehensweise zu wählen: eine partizipative Interviewreihe. Dieser Beitrag skizziert das Konzept, berichtet von der praktischen Durchführung und entwickelt konkrete Thesen als Ergebnis der Auseinandersetzung mit den „Unfrequently Asked Questions“.

„„Experiment, Ergebnis, Erkenntnis“ – Dokumentation einer Interviewreihe zu Projektmanagement in den Digital Humanities“ weiterlesen

Geohumanities III: analysing early modern mobility through birth and apprenticeship letters

By Monika Barget

In the winter term 2020/2021, Jaap Geraerts and I worked with students in the Mainz MA programme “Digitale Methoden in den Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften” (“Digital Methods in the Humanities and Cultural Studies”) to create a digital edition of early modern birth and apprenticeship letters. The edition includes records in French and Latin as well as German and highlights people’s cross-border mobility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. „Geohumanities III: analysing early modern mobility through birth and apprenticeship letters“ weiterlesen

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode IV: Detecting OCR transcription errors

by Markus Müller

In the last episode, we built a pipeline to convert a diplomatic transcription into normalized Latin text. The code works fine as long as the diplomatic transcription is correct. But what happens if the transcription contains errors or, even worse, if the printer in the 16th century misspelled a word? – Right now, nothing would happen at the moment because our pipeline cannot detect these errors. This is a problem because as soon as we start comparing two editions of the same text to check for censorship (and that’s where we are going!), the slightest difference between the two texts may be interpreted as censorship. Can we solve this problem? – Yes, we can!

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode IV: Detecting OCR transcription errors“ weiterlesen

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode III: Normalizing 16th century raw text

by Markus Müller

Visiting a museum as a kid, I sometimes wondered why I could hardly read anything in the medieval or early modern books and manuscripts displayed in the exhibition. Even after I learned Latin in school, the situation did not improve. I was not aware that people in former centuries used a lot more abbreviations than today, especially in Latin texts. As long as paper (or parchment) was very expensive, scribes and printers tried to save as much space as possible. Therefore, a sentence like “In principio fecit deus caelum et terram” could be abbreviated as “In prīcipio fecit de celū ťrā” (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth” — the first verse of the Bible). You may have noted that these abbreviations worked differently than abbreviations like “WWW” or “U.S.” that we are familiar with today, and it would be nice if they could be resolved automatically with a Python script.

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode III: Normalizing 16th century raw text“ weiterlesen

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