Hybridity and Historiography – A Tricky Couple!

Things have power to act, Bruno Latour says. This French author alternates between natural science, social science and philosophy. For him, who founded the influential actor-network-theory (ANT), computer and their programs are hybrids between the linguistic and the real. In the language of ANT, he calls them Aktanten.

Things unfold their power because they are connected with people.

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Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Digitization is not research: Theories and practices in the Digital Humanities

L.I.S.A., the scientific platform of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, on July 14, 2016 published a report of the outcome of a symposium that was organised by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and held in the Villa Vigoni in Menaggio at the beautiful Lake of Como, May 26 to 29, 2016. The Villa Vigoni is an instution that “fosters the relationships between Italy and Germany in the fields of scientific research and culture in a European perspective”. Literature was in the focus of the symposium.

The interesting, quite long report was published in German by Julia Menzel: Theorien und Praktiken des Digitalen in den Geisteswissenschaften. Here an English short cut and some comments and links: Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Geschichte Digital – Historische Welten neu vermessen

Abbildung 1-1Guido Koller, Geschichte Digital – Historische Welten neu vermessen, Stuttgart, 2016

Die digitale Kommunikation prägt inzwischen das Berufsbild der Historiker entscheidend. Heute ist Norm, was vor 20 Jahren noch Ausnahme war: Historische Welten werden digital vermessen und analog interpretiert. Wie Historiker denken, lehren, schreiben ändert sich durch die Digitalisierung schon heute und wirkt auf das Schreiben von Geschichte zurück: Mit Algorithmen verarbeiten Forscher heute große Datenmengen, die völlig neue Perspektiven und Herangehensweisen an die historischen Quellen ermöglichen. Das Buch beschreibt den Stand des digitalen Wandels für die Geschichte als Teil der Geisteswissenschaften und diskutiert die Perspektiven über die Zukunft des Big Data in den historischen Wissenschaften. Ein Serviceteil, in dem Infrastrukturen, Portale, Tools, Standards und Blogs vorgestellt werden, ergänzt dieses Buch.

http://www.kohlhammer.de/wms/instances/KOB/appDE/Neuerscheinungen/Geschichte-digital-978-3-17-028929-1/

The digital communication characterizes the professional profile of historians. Today is standard, what, 20 years ago, was the exception: Past worlds are measured digitally and interpreted analogously. The digital change captures the production and communication of historical knowledge and affects the writing of history: With algorithms, we process large amounts of data and create a new digital information society, a network, a hybrid constellation of people and things. The book describes the state of the digital change for the History as part of the Humanities and discusses its further perspectives. It includes a service part, where infrastructures, portals, tools, standards and blogs are presented.

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Digital Humanities – Limits and Possibilities: A New Journal in Germany

The new German Zeitschrift für Digitale Geisteswissenschaften (Journal for Digital Humanities) of the Forschungsverbund Marbach, Weimar and Wolfenbüttel, supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung in its first volume discusses limits and possibilities of the Digital Humanities.

The editors, Constanze Baum and Thomas Stäcker, want to present theories, methods and projects of the Digital Humanities in the German speaking part of Europe. Not all texts are already available. But what is there is really interesting – here a small selection of articles:

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Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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The Future of Yesterday: Scientific publishing after the Digital Revolution

In his new Essay, Valentin Groebner, Professor for Medieval history, asks about the possibilities of digital media and the historical perspective that could teach us about their chances and risks.

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Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Pamphlet No 6 – Between Distant and Close reading

Franco Moretti explains the “Operationalizing” of Distant reading in an interesting pamphlet from the Stanford Literary Lab (see below). Operationalization is a process that transforms a concept into a series of operations. This in turn makes it possible to measure objects. In an empirical approach to literature we measure the space which a character occupies in a text. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Any room left for freedom in a programmed world? – Vilém Flusser and the Digital Humanitites

Now, if one accepts the basic thesis that the world is experienced, recognized and evaluated in the network of codes, […].

Flusser thinks history as a sequence of codes of an alphabetical order. This suggests a linear historical world. In contrast, Flusser sees the computer as a phenomenon of post-history. It dissolves structural oppositions such as subject and object, nature and culture. Now adays this Decentration is seen as a network phenomena. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Virtual History

Bild Ferguson Virtual History2011, Penguin published a book with the promising title: „Virtual History“. There, Niall Ferguson presented 9 articles “towards a ‘chaotic’ theory of the past”. Exciting, the digital historian thinks, and begins to attack the introduction of almost 100 pages. Soon, he finds out that the book deals with questions as the following: What if Britain had stayed out of the First World War? What if Hitler had defeated the Soviet Union? So the point of the book is counterfactual history and not, as expected, virtual digital history. A close look on the circumstances of the publication makes it clear: Penguin has reprinted the book that has first been published 1997 – probably because the editor has become famous. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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The Truth of the Technical World

Friedrich A. Kittler, „Die Wahrheit der technischen Welt, Essays zur
Genealogie der Gegenwart“, Berlin 2013

Remarks to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s Edition

Friedrich A. Kittler was a controversial scientist: His enthusiasm for technology, mathematics, psychoanalysis, and rock music and his delight in the eclectic speculation were suspect to many of us. But not to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: For him Kittler’s work is  “idea and promise of a truth” to our technological world. As a history of technology, Kittler’s narrative of cultural history forms, perhaps, a figure of thought, which contributes to the “understanding of the digital present and future”. Gumbrecht, who is interested in the cultural consequences of digitization, therefore wants to expose the potential that lies in this work. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Digital survey of culture and history

Gerhard Lauer, „Die digitale Vermessung der Kultur, Geisteswissenschaften als Digital Humanities“, in: Big Data, Das neue Versprechen der Allwissenheit, Berlin 2013

Review

Digitization is a revolution. It shakes the hierarchy of values ​​in the humanities: Until recently, interpretation and hermeneutics have been everything, computing nothing. Now, Digital Humanities denote a supplement, respectively, a change in methodology. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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The Philosophy of the Digital Humanities

David M. Berry, The Computing Turn, Thinking About the Digital Humanities, in: Culture Machine, Vol. 12, 2011

A short cut

Digital technologies mediate research. They also change underlying epistemologies and ontologies. David M. Berry, Associate Professor/Reader in Digital Media, has been thinking about this. Here a short cut of his interesting article: Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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The economics of writing (and publishing)

Michel de Certeau, Kunst des Handelns, Berlin 1988

Review for the Digital Humanities

The art of acting, L’Invention du quotidien – Arts de faire, respectively, as the book is originally called, has long been an insider tip. Its author, a french historian and Jesuit, working inter alia in the Americas, tried to translate back to Europe much of what anthropologists have written into the new world. He worked on a mystique that in part can be used for the legend of the Digital Humanities, too: Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Do We still need History? And if so: Why?

Reinhart Koselleck, Vom Sinn und Unsinn der Geschichte, Berlin 2010

A short cut and a remark for the Digital Humanities

The historical sciences since quite a long time have been in crisis, Reinhart Koselleck, the famous German historian, writes in his essay “Wozu noch Geschichte?”. He asks about the theoretical possibilities of history – questions that can be used also for the Digital Humanities. Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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Hybridity, a cultural and scientific model for the future

Yvonne Spielmann, Hybridkultur, Berlin 2010

A brief summary and a few theories for the Digital Humanities

Hybrid culture correlates and fuses elements from different media, cultural contexts and discourses. The decisive factor here: Networks change the direction and speed of communication and information. They allow the creation of a public sphere simultaneously anywhere (to that, see my posts about the question of place and time in the Digital Humanities). What criteria should be used to identify and evaluate the medial construction of reality in its constant variability? Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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How do we get rid of History?

Niklas Luhmann, „Weltzeit und Systemgeschichte, Über Beziehungen zwischen Zeithorizonten und Strukturen gesellschaftlicher Systeme“, in: Soziologische Aufklärung 2. Aufsätze zur Theorie der Gesellschaft, Opladen 1975

Review and Update for the Digital Humanities

In a global world of information the presence expands at the expense of the past, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht write in his book Unsere breite Gegenwart. And what about the future? What is the impact of technological change and the constant availability of information on shaping of the future? The question of present future horizons is particularly important for the Humanities. The authors of a book from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) predict the breakup of the Humanities in a rapidly growing area approaching the quantitative social sciences and a rapidly diminishing area that defends the traditional heuristic and interpretive appeal vehemently. The time in form of change presses against the historiography once again – and this time not too soft! Continue reading

Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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