Archiv der Kategorie: Babelblog

Nebraska Digital Workshop


The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has announced their third annual workshop for early career digital humanists. The goal of the workshop is to bring advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and pre-tenure faculty members together with senior scholars in a collaborative environment. All those chosen for the workshop will present their work for critique by the participants and will emerge from the workshop with a more refined project, new ideas about their work, and suggestions pathways toward further funding, publication, or other means of advancing their work.

The workshop pays the cost of travel and lodging for all participants as well as an honorarium for presenting their work.

When media re-construct memory – Omer Fast’s Spielberg’s List


In Warsaw CSW nowadays can be seen an exhibition titled History Will Repeat Itself by Inke Arns. Its topics were nice described in this two notes of the great art blog We Make Money Not Art, so there is no need to do it again here. But it is worth to concentrate particularly on one of the presentations referring to the issue of media as a way of history re-enactment.


Spielberg’s List is a movie project by Omer Fast. His work – two channel video constructed around the experiences of Polish extras that participated in Steven Sielberg’s shooting of famous Schindler’s List – shows how easily media and entertainment can re-construct memory.

MATARKA és egyéb hasznos cucc


Miután ma a harmadik hivatalos svájci nyelv, az olasz, a mi babelbogunkban szóhoz jutot, gondolom itt az ideje, hogy a magyar nyely is jelen legyen nálunk. Sajnos nem sikerült magyarnyelvü kollegát találnunk, akinek kedve és ideje lenne, a babelblogban idöként valami apróságot írni, ezért én írok egy pár sort.

Napokban a H-Net keretében müködö Habsburg-listán fen ált a kérdés, hogy melyik magyar történészettudományos folyóirat fontos és hogy mi található a hálózaton.

Strumenti collaborativi e scrittura storica


Desidero innanzitutto esprimere il mio apprezzamento per l’iniziativa di Peter Haber e Jan Hodel, che con l’apertura di Babelblog hanno inaugurato una strada nuova e originale per il dibattito sulle applicazioni degli studi storici al web.

L’occasione di questo mio intervento deriva dal workshop “Strumenti collaborativi e scrittura storica nella fase del web 2.0”, che alcuni giorni fa si è tenuto presso il Dipartimento di Studi storici e geografici dell’Università di Firenze con il coordinamento mio e di Andrea Zorzi, con cui da anni divido impegno e fatica per mantenere aperto un canale di discussione su tematiche che riteniamo sempre più importanti per il lavoro (didattica e ricerca) degli storici.


Babelblog: ein erster Rückblick / a first review


Vor zwei Monaten starteten wir den Versuch „babelblog“: Wir öffneten unseren Weblog einer international zusammengestellten Gruppe von Historiker/innen, die aus ihrer Perspektive über die Geschichtswissenschaften im digitalen Zeitalter berichten sollten. Nach zwei Monaten und acht Einträgen von drei Autoren wollen wir einen ersten Rückblick halten.

Mills Kelly berichtete von einem Projekt, das die Entwicklung von Hilfsmitteln zur Erschliessung grosser Textmengen von historischem Interesse zum Ziel hat, vom Versuch der Library of Congress, ihr Bildarchiv auf Flickr bereit zu stellen und mit kollaborativem Tagging erschliessen zu lassen, einem Wiki, das dem (vor allem US-amerikanischen) Archiv-Wesen gewidmet ist, und von einem OpenSource Software-Paket, das mit Web-2.0-Technologien das Erstellen von Ausstellungs-Websites ermöglicht, bzw. vereinfacht.

Marcin Wilkowski berichtete von zwei Projekten in Polen, die historische Sachverhalten mit Web-2.0-Technologien darstellen und stellte die Frage, inwiefern die Erinnerung public domain ist, bzw. ob ein Privatunternehmen Bildmaterial von historischen Ereignissen, die eine ganze Gesellschaft betreffen, zu Werbezwecken einsetzen darf.

Loudovic Tournes schliesslich stellt die provozierende Frage, ob im digitalen Zeitalter die althergebrachten Bibliographien überhaupt noch einen Zweck erfüllen.

Wir warten gespannt auf die nächsten Einträge und sind zuversichtlich, dass bald weitere Autor/innen mit eigenen Beiträgen auf sich aufmerksam machen werden.

In January we started our project „Babelblog“: we invited some historians from different parts of the world to join our blog and post about the historical sciences in the digital age from their point of view. After two months and eight posts from three contributors, we think it’s time for a first look back.

Since most of the posts are in english, we do without replicating them one by one. We would like to point out the post of Loudovic Tournes though, not because it’s the only one in french so far, but rather because he asks boldly, whether in the digital age compiling and maintaining bibliographies is still making sense, or whether new technologies make those pre digital techniques needless.

In any case we are looking forward to a lot more interesting posts, that will come up during the next months – not only from the contributors we already have read, but also from new ones.

Omeka Ready for General Use (beta version)


The Center for History and New Media and the Minnesota Historical Society have justed released the public beta version of Omeka, a free and open-source software platform that provides museums, historical societies, libraries, and individuals with an easy-to-use platform for publishing collections and creating attractive, standards-based, interoperable online exhibits. Already in use at more than 150 sites, Omeka makes a variety of Web 2.0 technologies and approaches available to any user–small or large–who wants to foster a higher degree of interaction among users and site visitors. Omeka is now available for download and general use. System Requirements for this platform are:

  • Linux operating system
  • Apache server (with mod_rewrite enabled)
  • MySQL 5.0 or greater
  • PHP 5.2.x or greater
  • ImageMagick

Can heritage be copyrighted? Is memory a public domain?


Strong discussion on the polish internet takes place nowadays because of the Fiat advertisement created by Leo Burnett. This polish version of very similar conceptions which could be seen in France or Italy is now being accused of using public memory for the commercial purposes:

see it on YouTube

To tell the truth, Fiat became a part of polish history. But for many people using an image of Solidarity movement, Lech Wa??sa, John Paul II or even the Warsaw Uprising in the advertisement is a violation of principle in which great historical moments and personalities can not be owned by any political or commercial circle – they are a public domain of memory and can not be credited to the one company or political party.

THATCamp at the Center for History and New Media


The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University will be holding THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp), May 31 and June 1, 2008. This event will be an „unconference“ on digital humanities. An unconference is an event where the participants decide what the sessions should be about on a day-to-day basis, rather than by the organizers in advance. In that sense, this will be a truly open source event. THATCamp is filling up fast, so if you want to attend be sure to visit the website now and register.

Text Mining for Historians


This summer the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University will begin work on a two-year study of the potential of text-mining tools for historical (and by extension, humanities) scholarship. The project, entitled “Scholarship in the Age of Abundance: Enhancing Historical Research With Text-Mining and Analysis Tools,” aims to determine how historians might begin to take advantage of the incredible abundance of historical content now available in on-line databases.

Many millions of original sources (texts, images, etc.) have now been placed online in these databases, but historians have yet to figure out how to work effectively with such vast quantities of information. Ironically, more and more historians are finding themselves overwhelmed by the abundance of digital sources. As a result, no one has yet figured out how to access potential new insights about the past that may lurk in these databases or in the intersections between them.

Smaller efforts, like those of programming historian Bill Turkel at the University of Western Ontario, have yielded very interesting preliminary results. The CHNM project intends to expand on work like Turkel’s and the MONK project to determine what historians need on a grander scale. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this project will include a variety of research endeavors, including focus groups with historians who will be asked to test the efficacy of various text mining methods in their research.

The Archives Wiki


The American Historical Association has created an Archives Wiki that allows historians to collect and share information about archives around the world in a wiki format.

The Archives Wiki project is built on the MediaWiki platform and aims to leverage the collective knowledge and experience of historians and other archive users to create an important resource for anyone planning archival research. Registered and validated users can create entries on any library that they choose, or can elaborate current entries.

This latter feature is one that researchers will find especially useful, because it permits researchers to create up to the minute updates on what is (or isn’t) happening in a particular archive. Almost every researcher has had the experience of going to an archive, only to find that the collection he or she wants is being reindexed, or that the archive has closed for the week (or the month!) for renovations. If this project takes off, as I suspect it will (especially among younger researchers), then those planning a visit to a particular archive can know what is happening at their destination in something like real time. This alone makes the project worth participating in.

Already the site includes information on more than 100 archives, mostly in the United States. Sample entries in this newly created project include the American Library of Congress and the German Historical Association in Washington, D.C. Neither of these entries is anywhere close to complete and users of the site are encouraged to dive right in and add to, edit, or change these entries, or to create an entry on their own favorite archive.

This project is in its earliest stages and so it is difficult to assess how well it will work. But I certainly hope that scholars beyond the shores of North America will join in and add to the growing store of information in this project.

Asking the Public to Mark Up Images


The photo sharing website and the Library of Congress in the United States have created a very interesting collaboration between a Web 2.0 business and a major cultural institution. The Commons, as it is known, invites the general public to mark up (they say „describe“) images from the collection of the Library of Congress and to discuss those images via the Flickr website.

In its first phase, the project offers visitors access to 3,115 images from the Library’s digital collection of more than 1 million historical images.


As this image shows, the photographs selected for inclusion in the pilot project are of high quality. As nice as it is to have access to these images through the Flickr interface, that access is already provided by the Library, albeit in a very un-user friendly way. What will be of much more interest to historians and other researchers is the ways that visitors to the site have begun to engage in discussion of these images.

Back in 2006 I speculated that one day large institutions like the Library of Congress (LOC) would begin to make their collections available for public tagging and I wondered what that tagging would look like once it began. What I did not anticipate at the time was that rather than setting up their own interface to permit the public to begin tagging their digital collections, institutions like the LOC would simply take advantage of existing platforms like Flickr. Weiterlesen

Faut-il encore faire des bibliographies ?


Bonjour à tous,

Puisque j’ai l’honneur d’inaugurer Babelblog, je voudrais d’abord féliciter Peter et Jan pour cette nouvelle initiative et les remercier de m’avoir invité à y participer. Pour cette première contribution, je voudrais vous parler d’un sujet qui nous touche tous : la bibliographie! J’en avais parlé un peu l’année dernière lors du panel «histoire et informatique» des journées suisses d’histoire de Berne, et les discussions que nous avions eu m’incitent à aborder de nouveau le sujet, car j’aimerais connaître vos réactions.

Ce problème s’inscrit dans un cadre plus large que nous avons sans doute tous ressenti depuis plusieurs années: le fait que les méthodes de travail traditionnelles qui constituent depuis le XIXe siècle le cœur du métier d’historien fonctionnent de plus en plus mal et sont en train de conaître, avec les nouvelles technologies, une crise et une mutation importantes. La pratique de la bibliographie est une des bases de notre métier, comme chacun sait.

Or, je me rends compte depuis plusieurs années que j’utilise de moins en moins l’outil bibliographique, ce qui est d’autant plus paradoxal qu’étant donné les recherches que j’effectue sur les activités internationales des fondations philanthropiques américaines au XXe siècle, j’ai été confronté à une bibliographie énorme, non seulement du fait de la variété des sujets concernés, mais aussi parce qu’avec le développement des portails de revues électroniques, nous avons maintenant accès pour n’importe quel sujet, à une bibliographie internationale parue y compris dans des revues très pointues qui jusqu’à leur inclusion dans ces vastes portails que sont Jstor, Elsevier, Springer link ou d’autres, nous sont maintenant accessibles. C’est formidable, mais cela me semble remettre en cause la pratique traditionnelle de la bibliograpphie, car les listes bibliographiques deviennent rapidement très longues et, finalement, rapidement obsolètes du fait que, à l’échelle internationale, le rythme de parution de nouveaux articles sur une question est bien plus rapide que lorsqu’on se limite à l’historiographie parue dans son pays d’origine ou celle de sa langue d’origine. Weiterlesen

Collective preservation of history – two projects from Poland



The case of internet communities is widely discussed in the context of the Web 2.0 idea. Cognitive, educational potential of communities is proved in Wikipedia, where groups of users in a dynamic way (discussion, co-operation) build knowledge resources. The quality of theirs works can be sometimes better than articles in the professionals encyclopedias. Despite all the problems connected with collective and freely edited knowledge, Wikipedia became an excellent place for starting a research.

But can online communities be helpful in the case of history preservation? Two projects started some time ago in Poland encourage internet users to collectively gather the historical materials and knowledge.


Zehn Jahre – Start von

Babelblog 5

Vor zehn Jahren starteten wir – Jan Hodel von der Pädagogischen Hochschule Nordwestschweiz und Peter Haber vom Historischen Seminar der Universität Basel – die Plattform

Wir finden, dass zehn Jahre Grund genug sind, in diesem Jahr ausgiebig zu feiern und haben deshalb drei Projekte lanciert:

  • Zum einen startet in diesen Tagen Unter diesem Label werden während des ganzen Jahres 2008 Kollegen aus den verschiedensten Ländern hier in diesem Weblog mitbloggen – jeder in seiner Sprache. Starten werden wir in den drei Amtssprachen der Schweiz sowie mit Englisch und Polnisch. Die Beiträge werden mit Tags in deutscher und/oder englischer Sprache versehen, so dass alle Leserinnen und Leser mitverfolgen können, welche Themen auf besprochen werden. Wir möchten das babylonische Stimmengewimmel auf bald ausweiten und nehmen Vorschläge und Interessenbekundungen gerne unter folgender Adresse entgegen: Wir möchten mit diesem Experiment die Internationalität der Blogosphäre erforschen und die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen eines internationalen wissenschaftlichen Weblogs erkunden.
  • Zum zweiten werden wir auf in den nächsten Wochen eine Chronik der letzten zehn Jahre erstellen: Aus der Vielfalt von Lehrveranstaltungen, Kursen, Projekten und Publikationen, die unter dem Label entstanden sind, werden wir einige Highlights herausgreifen und in Bild und Text vorstellen.
  • Und last but not least werden wir Ende 2008 – selbstverständlich vollständig offline – in Basel eine würdige Zehnjahresfeier organisieren, über die wir an dieser Stelle beizeiten noch berichten werden.

Mit dieser Vorschau auf das Jubiläumsjahr wünschen wir allen unseren Leserinnen und Lesern ein erspriessliches und anregendes 2008!

Peter Haber und Jan Hodel