Thematic meeting #5 Methodenkritik

Our fifth work meeting took place on October 5th and 6th in Stuttgart. The meeting’s focus was “Method Criticism” and provided hybrid participation format for the lectures, just like the former two meetings.

The network meeting was initiated on October 5th by a lecture held by Gabriel Viehhauser who delved into the topic of “Method Criticism in the Humanities”. He mainly highlighted digital editions and their distinguishing features in contrast to book editions. Additionally, he addressed the boundaries of models attempting to visualize the complexities of reality. To illustrate these concepts, Viehhauser referenced the digital analysis of the “Minnesangswende”, that assumes an objectification and formalization of late Minnesang compared to early Minnesang. In the spirit of the topic of “Method Criticism”, Viehhauser came to the conclusion that any form of modeling inevitably necessitates simplification, and that digital methods prioritize representativeness over comprehensiveness. The insecurities associated with digital editions are not only accepted but, to some degree, sought after since they keep complexity and encourage further individual research.

The second part of the first day was accompanied by two impulse presentations, which served as the foundation for subsequent discussion. Christian Prager introduced his work with a databank, containing texts featuring visualizations, as well as a dictionary of the classic Maya (“Interdisciplinary Dictionary of Classical Mayan). Following this, Maria Hinzmann held a presentation on “Linked Open Data for Literary History: Lessons Learned in the Project MiMoText” dealing with the web of knowledge surrounding French novels of the 18th century. The preceding discussions raised a plethora of questions, which were to be discussed in depth within smaller groups at designated topic tables. These discussions primarily revolved around the opportunities and challenges of handling large amount of data, the matter of data provenance and how to put trust into them, the complexity paradox of large data and the possibility of (subsequent) use of data for everyone in the spirit of LOD.

The second day commenced with a reflective session in relation to the theme of “Lessons Learned” which led to new realizations. Among these realizations was the importance of comprehending the data in order to be able to understand the boundaries of corpora. It was also recognized that enhancing transparency in data provenance could be instrumental. Furthermore, the matter of digital editions was discussed and how their sustainable and long-term preservation may be ensured. In addition, the further course of the network activities was argued within the network members, as well as the organization of the final meeting in Darmstadt, which will be held in February 2024.

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