March in April (in Berlin and elsewhere)

On April 22nd, 2017 a “March for Science” will be organized in different cities all over the world in order to protest against the way science is being treated by the current American administration – be it its consideration for knowledge, for international scientists, for data archiving, for transparency, or for something as simple (or seemingly simple) as a fact. The protests take place on Earth Day in order to mark the particular importance of climate change and of the scientific work related to assessing its progress and initiating necessary counter-measures.

There will be a March for Science in Berlin. A team of volunteers is currently coordinating with the organizers on the national level. All are welcome to join!

Families, I do not hate you

For the third time since I started the project “Berlin intellectuals 1800-1830”, great luck has come to me from descendants’ families. Unexpectedly, material turns out to be recoverable. Letters – answers to other letters we have edited in Letters and Texts – happen not to be lost after all. They are in a box, the box in a cabinet, the cabinet in the home of an elderly lady. And they have been there at least since the first edition (a censored edition, of course) was realised in the 1930s.

The moment when you get a phone call at your office with someone presenting themselves with the last name of an author you edit is a moment of blessing, for many reasons. One of these reasons is that they call you because they found your research online, which means: open science is not a vain word, and the effort of making one’s research easily accessible online makes a difference – for them and for you. With that phone call, new worlds open for your research, like in this case finding the answers to decades of correspondence. We will date better, understand allusions, see how the relationship evolves, grasp contexts. We will put the puzzle pieces back together, something we can do virtually without displacing documents but for the few hours needed to digitize them. Continue reading “Families, I do not hate you”

OPEN – Contribution to the AGATE Workshop January 16th, 2017

This is the text of my contribution to the Workshop “Open – Connective – Sustainable”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear President Hatt, Dear Academy Representatives & Guests,

I am honored and happy to have this opportunity to respond to Ulrike Wuttke and by doing so to proceed with the opening session of this workshop. There is nothing more adequate to open such a day than to start thinking about the very concept of openness. In my response, I will first take a short historical glimpse back in the history of the institution hosting today’s event. Then I will take a more systematic take on Ulrike Wuttke’s presentation.

Let us turn back to the year 1813. At this point, a young professor of philology initiated what would become the first German Academy long-time project in SSH ever. Continue reading “OPEN – Contribution to the AGATE Workshop January 16th, 2017”

Peer review says “bof”

There are some words that are hard to translate in every language. Giving a sense of the French “bof” is one of these tricky cases. Basically, it means something close to “so-so”, but it is better impersonated by the Comics figure of Achille Talon (there is a section of the English wikipedia article on Achille Talon dealing with his favourite quotes that tries to grasp the essence of “bof” as well). “Bof” is an attitude of indifference, disdain, not wanting to acknowledge reality. And “bof” has to do with the data journals session at the Prague DARIAH HaS Winter School I taught yesterday. Not with the attitude of the participants, at all – boy, were they enthusiastic. But it has to do with our discussion of peer review. Continue reading “Peer review says “bof””