Vacation time is over and – which is a bit surprising for PhD students – I had much time to think about my dissertation and my academic future. I did some researches and picked up many new interesting fields someone should deal with. However, from time to time, I got angry about an issue which came across a lot. Have you ever noticed how stupid some subject-related databases are? I mean, having them helped us find sources and texts, which enriched our own work, was a wonderful opportunity 10 years ago; but today, 10 years later the relation between the whole bunch of data sets became the focus of some researchers’ attention.
When I started my dissertation project a few years ago, I was looking for proper tools to transcribe handwritings like this:
Humanities tend to make things complicated. And that’s a privilege, because they have decided to describe and analyze their topic of research as exactly as possible. Skimming over complex issues leads to a loss of important details and, in doing so, to inaccurate argumentations. As humanists, our medium to transport insights and information is still a language and so – besides scientific research – we artfully string together words and produce rhetorical highly adorned sentences to convince our readers that our assumptions and arguments are unassailable. To describe details, we often need a lot of words (although sometimes we reduce a complex issue to a familiar technical term)!
“Digital church” (#DigitaleKirche) is currently much discussed. It’s inspiring (and sometimes amusing) to follow the debates about digital tools, social media, helpful apps, or the latest means of communication in all fields of ecclesiastical life. Thinking about “blessing robots,” “donation apps,” or “pastoring chat bots” is an important step to usher the church into the daily digital experience of their (potential) members. I think the church has to go that way for communicational and administrative reasons as long as digital technology supports pastoral tasks and doesn’t replace “offline” community. In this way, #DigitaleKirche is an esteem of the communicative fundamental structure of the church and, also, of the ways communication between people has changed.
(auch auf Deutsch!)
Whoever has studied history has surely heard about the great controversies on historiographical theories and schools with their linguistic and epistemological ideas. It seems to me that the 20th century was full of radical position fights and historians walking from “turn to turn.” But today, they shy away from a theory based “digital turn” or – even a step forward – a “paradigm shift” of methodological thinking and narratives. Therefore, I wonder: do historians really need a “theory of digital history?” Do they even want it? Is it necessary?