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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Forget it !? Memory and the formation of historical meaning in the “broad presence”

Summary of my Intervention at the Colloquium of the University of Lucerne, Zeit-Geschichte-Unterricht, 7. November 2014

Link to the original german manuscript http://bit.ly/1svdpMg

The intervention wants to make the audience familiar with questions about the current understanding of time and its consequences for history. It examines the assumption of HansUlrich Gumbrecht, according to which we live in a “broad presence”. For that, the intervention presents 4 Tableaux from which it structures the material [1] for three theses. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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The Thinking follows the Data

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine of 12th March 2014, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht writes that the humanities are helpless towards the digital revolution. That we must invent new terms to get along with it. That our traditional concepts and ways of thinking are opposed to it – which means that its development and  influence have drifted out of the reach of our intellectual and scientific analysis. Gumbrecht believes, that now only we see the whole significance of the thoughts of Jacques Derrida and those about The Truth of the Technical World of Friedrich Kittler. Gumbrecht forgets to mention Foucault’s L’archéologie du savoir, here. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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Big Data in History

Patrick Manning, Big Data in History, London 2013

The author, Patrick Manning, is Professor of World History at the University of Pittsburgh. He pursues a big goal: As a Director of the Center for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA) he wants to develop and build up a world wide historical archive, thinking that time has come to create a coherent record of human social change. He compares his project to those in climate modeling and genetic databases. The small book is an introduction into the project of the CHIA, that exists since 2007. 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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Deep Map

A deep map as for instance the Swiss Storymap anchors historical objects – letters, photos, reports etc. – in time and space, thus allowing us to obtain layers of views on our cultural heritage. Such a  universal humanities GIS (Trevor Harris) would base on a geospatial Web in which participants are both producers and consumers of data. So, geography would situate us on a physical map, history in time. It is necessary to combine both, structure and activity, to cater the “dense contingency” of all social life, David J. Bodenhamer says (please see my review on his input at the Luxembourg Conference to this). He is an expert on the spatial turn in historical research and links it to the potential of Web 2.0.  So, at the end Geographical Information Systems (GIS) can reduce the distance between observer and observed, let the past appear as dynamic and contingent as the present.

In the time of World War One a well equipped patrol of the Swiss Army is making a break. Do you know where the photo has been taken? Locate it on Swiss Storymap.

Copyright photo: Swiss Federal Archives, E27#1000721#14094#2592.

Guido Koller

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

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Everyone’s history?! An inventory on writing contemporary history in the digital age

Frédéric Clavert, Serge Noiret (Editors), L’histoire contemporaine à l’ère numérique, Contemporary History in the Digital Age, Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 381 p.

Review

The humanities are subject to a continuous, but recently accelerated change. In the meantime, this change has a powerful name: Digital Humanities. And this name is program – the humanities are to be made ​​ fit for the digital age. To this, in october 2009, a symposium took place, organized by the Centre virtuel de la connaissance sur l’Europe and the University of Luxembourg. The aim was to take into view the new sources, tools and methods of contemporary history. The contributions are now available in a rich anthology, edited by Frédéric Clavert and Serge Noiret, two protagonists of the Digital Humanities in Europe. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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La place dans les Humanités Digitales – Commentaire

Le billet “The place in the Digital Humanities” du 8 Juin 2012 (revue du livre Non-lieux de Marc Augé) me semble intéressant et je vous donnerai mon opinion, non pas exclusivement depuis la perspective des communautés des humanités numériques et de leurs lieux de vie et de travail mais depuis mon expérience générale des communautés numériques et physiques. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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The place in the Digital Humanities

Marc Augé, Non-Lieux. Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité, Paris 1992

Review with respect to the Digital Humanities

We have become strangers in our own world – due to its accelerated change. This calls for the anthropological perspective, for the thinking about the category of the other. It is perfectly exemplified by Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire. What we are looking for in the historical testimonies, in the traces of what once was, is our being different, the appearance of an identity. History is no longer genesis, but the deciphering of what we are, in the mirror of what we have been. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: The analog virtual Humanist

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time, Harvard University Press, 1997

Review with respect to digital humanities (avant la lettre)

A key feature of Digital History are hypertexts (to that, see the post on Wolfgang Schmale about Digital History). The possibility to link informational objects (text, image, video, sound) in a text distinguishes a hypertext from a conventional text. For historians it is actually a long-cherished dream that comes true: they can now combine their text, the result of their research, with the sources, the raw material of their scientific work. Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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Manuel Schramm, Digitale Landschaften, Stuttgart 2009

Review with respect to digital humanities

Historians have (re)discovered space as one of their issues. This has been manifested in the great response to the topic “borders” at the Swiss Congress of Historical Sciences 2010 in Basel or to the exhibition The Mastery of Space about the Swiss pioneer for US Surveying and Mapping, Rudolf Ferdinand Hassler, 2007 in Switzerland, for instance. The history of cartography is anything but an issue on the margins of history. This is also witnessed by the historical publication of Manuel Schramm, comparing the cartography in the United States and Germany in the second half of the 20th century (See my separate post to the The place in the Digital Humanities). Continue reading

Guido Koller

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

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Digital Humanities and Google: Ancient Places

Google has digitized around 15 million books  and supports researchers in their analysis

15 million books – that is around 10 percent of all books that have been published since Gutenberg. How can so much material be handled usefully? Historians help Google to create “Google Ancient Places”. Which sites play an important role in books about the classic Antique? See http://googleancientplaces.com

Guido Koller

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

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