History doesn’t care about «Ctrl Z»

Today, exactly 20 years ago, I started my career as a scientific collaborator in one of the most ambitious and controversally discussed historical projects Switzerland has ever launched: The Independent Commission of Experts: Switzerland – Second World War, also known as «Bergier Commission» (www.uek.ch).

SRF Arena, 22 March 2002

After thousands of pages, various oral history interviews, and 30 scientific publications / studies, it can be stated that all these analogue signals we collected between 1996 and 2002 are still vibrating today, namely in a digital manner.

These vibes can actually be found in the Media Archive of Swiss Radio and Television (SRF). As well, Memoriav, the Association for the Conservation of the Audiovisual Heritage of Switzerland, with its outstanding data collection called Memobase, the digitized resources at the Swiss Federal Archives, Berne, and the Archives of Contemporary History at the ETH Zurich, are perfect entry points to delve digitally into Swiss contemporary history.

The recent report «Backup for Posterity» (3Sat, 3 May 2018) shows that 90 percent of all  data has been generated in the last two years: the volume of digital data generated by our modern society is literally exploding. How can this data survive? What form of memory is there for our digital legacy? The main question is, which data is worth collecting and which is not. Above all, history the Queen of Analogue doesn’t care. Let’s put it this way: History itself will always be analogue because the human brain can’t voluntarely press a <Ctrl Z> key combination to reset its past experience. In other words:

History will never die because to <forgive> doesn’t mean to <forget>: Up to now, there’s no human way to push the Holy Digital Knob called <Undo>!

 

PS: Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about working in a globally organized virtual team in the beginning era of digitized research.

«Europeana 1914–1918»: History goes Crowd

Das vielbesagte “Zeitalter der Extreme” (Eric Hobsbawm) bzw. die neueste Studie “Die Schlafwandler” des Historikers Christopher Clark machen deutlich, dass Zeitgeschichte immer aus dem Auge des Betrachters interpretiert wird. Nun, angesichts der bevorstehenden Aktivitäten zum Ersten Weltkrieg, beschreitet das crowdbasierte und multimediale Projekt Europeana 1914–1918 historisches Neuland: Europeana vereinigt Materialien aus Bibliotheken und Archiven aus aller Welt mit privaten Erinnerungsstücken von Familien aus ganz Europa und fordert Interessierte zum “Entdecken, Lernen, Recherchieren, Nutzen und Teilen” auf. Continue reading