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Publizistik

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Digitale Perspektiven in der Kommunikations- und Mediengeschichte

Erkenntnispotentiale und Forschungsszenarien für die historische Presseforschung
  • Erik Koenen
Aufsatz
  • 45 Downloads

Zusammenfassung

Der Beitrag stellt in der Diskussion um die Zukunft der Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft in digitalen Zeiten die Position und Perspektive der Kommunikations- und Mediengeschichte in den Mittelpunkt und spielt die mit der Digitalisierung verbundenen Herausforderungen, Probleme und Potentiale am Beispiel der historischen Presseforschung durch. Innerhalb des Medienensembles der klassischen Massenkommunikation profitiert derzeit vor allem die periodische Presse von der retrospektiven Digitalisierung historischer Medien und deren digitaler Edition in Datenbanken und Portalen. Mit digitalisierten Zeitungen und digitalen Zeitungsportalen ergibt sich für die historische Presseforschung eine neue, weil zunehmend digitale Forschungssituation: Digitale Zeitungsportale als neuartige, originär digitale Überlieferungswelt für Zeitungen erleichtern nicht bloß den Weg zu den einzelnen Zeitungen und ihren Inhalten, sie erschließen diese als digitale Quellenressourcen maschinenlesbar und öffnen somit für die Forschung völlig neue Wege. Ziel des Beitrags ist es, die epistemologisch-methodologischen Problemlagen und die methodisch-praktische Operationalisierung digital gerahmter bzw. unterstützter pressehistorischer Erkenntnis- und Forschungsprozesse zu erörtern sowie konkrete Erkenntnisperspektiven und Forschungsstrategien für die Praxis vorzustellen.

Schlüsselwörter

Digitale Methoden Kommunikations- und Mediengeschichte Historische Presseforschung Distant Reading Text Mining 

Digital perspectives in communication and media history

Cognitive potentials and research scenarios for historical press research

Abstract

In the discussion about the future of communication and media science in digital times, this article focuses on the position and perspective of communication and media history. The challenges, problems and potentials associated with digitization are illustrated using the example of historical press research. Within the media ensemble of classical mass communication, the periodic press in particular benefits from the retrospective digitization of historical media and their digital edition in databases and portals. For historical press research, digitized newspapers and digital newspaper portals represent an originally new, because increasingly digital research situation: Digital newspaper portals as a novel, originally digital world for newspapers not only facilitate the path to newspapers and their contents, they also open them up as digital resources machine-readable and thus open up completely new paths for research—not least supported by digital methods.

The main objective of this article is to discuss the epistemological-methodological problems and the practical operationalization of digitally framed or supported research processes in historical press research and to present concrete perspectives of knowledge and research strategies for practice. With this aim in mind, the paper discusses three points:

(1.) Methodological and practical consequences of historical press research in digital research environments. With the digitization of newspapers and their digital reproduction in newspaper portals, their source character shifts essentially in three dimensions: They are edited and indexed digitally and their complete content is made accessible through optical character recognition. This makes previously unimportant technical aspects such as data formats, portal interfaces, search algorithms and programming interfaces very relevant for the methodology of historical press research. A primary methodological effect of the digital reorganization of newspapers in data and portals is the reversal of the usual reading practice: from “top down” to “bottom up”. With the help of “keyword searching”, newspapers can now be searched comprehensively and transversely to the order of the newspaper original. Nevertheless, there is a warning against an all too naïve and uncritical usage of digitized newspapers and newspaper portals. In practice, some problems and risks are crucial for the conception of historical newspaper research in digital research environments: Besides a hardly standardized and in large parts “wild”, because often uncoordinated and selective digitization of newspapers, the newspaper portals are different in their conception as well as characterized by different content, technical, legal and entrepreneurial conditions.

(2.) Historical newspapers as digital sources in practice. The methodological and technical framework are fundamental and far-reaching for the further practical use of newspapers as digital sources in research. In each research step, it must be considered that digitized newspapers are genuinely new and, depending on the quality and depth of digitization, very complex sources with information gains and losses compared to the originals. Newspapers are not simply digitized, they are digitally constructed and differ in this construction from each other. In this respect, historical press researchers are increasingly becoming “users”. However simple and uncomplicated newspaper portals may be in practice, one must incorporate the implicit functions (hidden in algorithms, data and code) and the limits of these knowledge engines and their “correct” use into the research process. Combining and mediating classical hermeneutic methods with search technologies is an essential moment in the practical handling of digitized newspapers.

(3.) Historical press research and digital methods. In the light of the new research situation which is emerging with digitized newspapers and newspaper portals, it is obvious that historical press research should increasingly open up to the possibilities of digital methods. In the digital method discussion of historical press research, one concept in particular forms a central point of reference: Franco Moretti’s concept of “Distant Reading”. Basically, “Distant Reading”—and this is what makes this perspective so interesting for historical press research in dealing with the considerable metadata and full text volumes of digitized newspapers—is about the quantitative-automatic indexing of large text corpora using methods and techniques of “Text Mining”. Digital text methods are thus seriously changing the way we look at texts and the research practice with texts such as newspapers: In parts, they automate and accelerate reading processes, produce “new” text extracts by the computer, generate new interpretation contexts between individual text, corpus and condensate, and thus set new orientation points for “close reading”. Computers and digital text methods thus do not relieve researchers of interpretation. Rather, they constantly challenge them to interpret in a continuous interplay in order to give meaning to the text patterns discovered by machines.

In spite of all these advantages, digital methods have so far only been used sporadically in historical press research. For this reason, finally a digital workflow for research processes in historical press research will be presented, which illustrates and summarizes essential challenges, problems, solutions and potentials of digitally framed or supported research in press history.

Keywords

Digital methods Communication and media history Historical press research Distant reading Text mining 

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zentrum für Medien-, Kommunikations- und Informationsforschung (ZeMKI)Universität BremenBremenDeutschland

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