Blogportale hier und da (a tribute to Mareike König)

Ein Thema, das alle Beiträge der Weblog-Konferenz soweit durchzieht, ist wohl die Frage nach der Qualitätssicherung. Wissenschaftliche Standards wie peer-review lassen sich bei Blogs wohl nicht realisieren und ich glaube, genau insofern ist es wichtig, die Funktion der wissenschaftlichen Blogportale zu definieren.

Marc Scheloske unterstreicht die Rolle der  Blogportale für den Wissenschaftler, um an das Publikum heranzukommen, sich zu vernetzen. Er liefert das Rezept, gibt die statistische Menge an Blogposts an, die nötig ist, um erfolgreich zu sein (mindestens einmal die Woche, 2/3 Mal ist besser). Das Einzige, was mir offensichtlich noch fehlt, um mit meinem Blog erfolgreich zu sein, ist die Dialogbereitschaft. Na gut. Was kann ich dafür, dass es keine Kommentare zu meinen Einträgen gibt? Soll ich welche selber schreiben? Soll ich selbst dann posten, wenn ich nichts Interessantes zu schreiben habe, um an Florian Freistetters 11 wöchentliche Posts zu kommen?

Aurélien Berra stellt dann das französische Portal vor. Er geht auf die Blogkategorien ein, die dort untergebracht werden, und macht nicht zuletzt damit anschaulich, warum der Schritt zur Umbenennung von “Blog” zu “carnet de recherche” (“wissenschaftliches Notizbuch”, “Forschungsjournal” wird auch per tweet vorgeschlagen) Sinn macht. Sein Argument ist, dass das Portal ausgerechnet aufgrund der offenen Struktur (open access, open edition) funktionieren kann. Bei der Gelegenheit lerne ich, dass ich eine von der allerwenigsten bin, die auf Englisch bloggen (muss mir noch sagen lassen, wie viele das sind). Eigentlich ist es nach wie vor eine gute Frage. Der Grund, warum ich auf Englisch schreibe, ist doch, um ein weiteres Publikum zu erreichen. Insofern würde es auch naheliegen, dass selbst eine misshandelte Form des Englischen (wie bei mir!) öfter benutzt wird.

Mareike König eröffnet dann feierlich das deutsche hypotheses-Portal. Der Hinweis auf die Auswahl der Beiträge, die auf der Startseite angezeigt werden, durch die Redaktion von, gibt sofort Anlass zu Getwitter darüber, was dabei die Auswahlkriterien sind.  There’s no review like peer review! – again –

Dennoch bleibt das Motto: Offenheit und Vernetzung für die Digital Humanities  – und in diesem Sinne: der nächste Post ist wieder auf Englisch 🙂


Scholarly blogging on scholarly blogging Part One

When I finally managed to get off the hypnotic fixation on the twitterwall, I realised that Cornelius Puschmann was trying to sort out the writing process of scholarly blogs. There are, of course, ways of putting up objective functions of scholarly writing. I find the three main functions he lists (taking notes, publishing results, doing PR-work) make sense. But on the other hand you seldom write for one reason, one adressee. You always somehow write for yourself and for yourself to be read.

The question of the relationship between blogger and readers is at the heart of the next paper. Melissa Terras first insists on the role of her blog as a pre-publication place. She explains the role twitter played and the way it came to change the way she writes on her blog. The numbers on the traffic on her blog are amazing. I have been of course following the traffic on my own blog, but it really is interesting to see the statistics in big numbers as it is the case of someone as well known in the blogosphere as Melissa Terras is.

The blog is an archive, a place to protest, etc., sums up Aurelien Berra in a tweet. I think her point is more to emphasize the analytic function of the blog. This is in fact the point where you have to  define for yourself what kind of blog author you are (can be?). As for any authorship, it is something that gets constructed by the interaction with the readers but also by their absence, by the lack of their reaction. It is defined by a censorship you have to find out by yourself, not safeguarded by the traditional scholarly barriers…

Beyond Virtual and Real

So it is raining in Munich, day before the big bloggers’ meeting.  My feelings are mixed. What I thought would be a relatively confidential conference turns out to be an event with over hundred participants – all likely to be listening to the talks and blogging and twitting at the same time; this will be one of the loudest silences ever. On the other hand, I am granting myself a break from a daily work that has gone beyond humanity, so I should really be, mainly, enjoying this. And I am, too. To begin with, I had a Sencha Tea with Christof Schöch this afternoon, and we discussed (among other things) our upcoming common paper at the biography conference in Wuppertal in the fall.

Subject of the conference are “Legitimation mechanisms in biography. Contexts, actors, techniques, limits”. When I saw the call for paper, I thought it would be a good occasion for Christof and me to take our discussion on wikipedia to the next level. What we proposed to do is a complex analysis of legitimation mechanisms in wikipedia biographies and how they compare to traditional biographies in terms of authority. In order to make this, as my husband would put it, “abstract nonsense” somehow digestible, we decided to give concrete examples of wikipedia biographies we wrote ourselves and their evolution. Will they be censored if we give manuscript sources instead of printed sources, for instance? I will start the first experiments next week. Since I had to deal with 200 persons to index in the 21 letters I encoded so far (yes, 21 is not much, and yes, 200 is a lot), I have a lot of candidates to experiment on: French, German, female, male, well known, not known at all, with strange names you can’t forget, with stupid names that mean something (winter, garlic, whatever…) so that googling them won’t bring you anywhere,… this should be fun!

Size matters

The website of the digital edition already looks pretty good, but I still cannot publish the link as long as the partners have not agreed on the way they are presented. And more important, on the way their manuscripts are presented. Plus, the search engine is still not installed. So, really, for you as a user, there is not much to see.

As a project manager and having invested almost all of my money of the past year  in this edition, it is a relief to see how professional it looks, even if some major aspects are still not clear (long time archiving for instance, ahem…). I am confident that there comes a point where you have to show something to get something, especially in a scientific community that has basically not the slightest idea what kind of time, energy, money, professionalism in all kinds of skills, setting such an edition involves. So the point now is (apart from enriching the corpus, which I hope I will manage to do on my normal work time and not just in the evenings) to have something that works well and that looks good.

As sure as I was about what was necessary for it to be perceived as something that works well, it proved much more complicated to settle on what looks good. Starting from the question where to put all the logos of the partner institutions involved, the discussion ended up revolving around how big our own logo should be and, essentially, what should be the one big thing you see first when you get to the page.

I tried to get an answer from the institutions and from other sites. It turns out that the DFG has no clear guidelines on how to be quoted as a sponsor, but my contact there sent me links. I looked those up, I looked up big German editions (Faust, Heinrich Heine, C.M. Weber), I looked up Bentham, I looked up my all-time favorite online edition, the Van Gogh Letters. Obviously, some of those had real money to get a real designer take care of the page, others did not. We will definitely not have that kind of money: that point is settled. Within the limits of our budget now, what should we consider?

Once again, it sums up to who we are addressing. Hence, it sums up to my dream of addressing both scholars and “other” people. For scholars, you can surely satisfy yourself with a solution like the Heine Portal or the Carl Maria von Weber Gesamtausgabe. But for anyone else, that kind of presentation is not appealing enough: the information is not structured enough or there is too much of it. The main problem is, there are two important instances that need to appear immediately as the first information: the research group and the edition itself. The research group is called “Nachwuchsgruppe Berliner Intellektuelle 1800-1830”, the edition is called “Das intellektuelle Berlin um 1800: unedierte Texte und Briefe”. Even if you don’t speak German, you will have noticed the overlap. This is bothering me; I would like to avoid redundancy because I fear it might actually drown the important information. But what is more important: the research group, or the edition? Should be they the same size (medium, big, very big?)? What should come first? And more importantly: should we stick to the brownish-yellowish-orangish colors I like so much because it is a relief for the computer-tired eye, or should we look into something more fancy (but then what?)?

You will find out in a month or so, when I will have the pleasure of giving you the IP address…