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Research Infrastructure for the Digital Edition of Historical Travelogues. Development of a Modular Platform for the Digital Edition, Complex Content Exploration, Analysis and Visualization of Historical Travelogues

Project managerGuido Hausmann
Project editorsAnna AnanievaSandra Balck, Hermann Beyer-Thoma, Jacob Möhrke (student assistant), Corwin Schnell (student assistant)
Project duration: 10/2021–9/2024
Cooperation partners: Prof. Karsten Brüggemann (Tallinn University, Estonia), Prof. Bogumił Szady (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland). Cooperation with partners in Russia is currently suspended.
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

So far, digital editions of historical travelogs have not even come close to exhausting the potential of e-Research technologies. This is particularly true when it comes to the use of digital editions as a data basis for further analysis and visualization of historical travelogs. The basic prerequisite for this operation is a “semantic” edition beyond the paper simulation paradigm (see Ted Nelson), which enables further use of data based on research questions. The main objective of this project is therefore to build a modular and extensible electronic research infrastructure for the transcription and critical edition of historical travelogs, including relevant research data, to contextualize the journeys with Semantic Web and linked data technology. This enables new analysis, as well as visualization approaches to investigate historical travel. The unpublished report by Franz Xaver Bronner on his journey from Aarau (Switzerland) to Kazan’ on the Volga in 1810 and his return in 1817 serves as a case study for the project. In addition to the digital edition of the Bronner manuscript, the project will prepare semantic editions of a selection of previously published and digitized travelogs. The added value for historical research will be provided by analyses and visualizations based on these semantic travelog editions, which will serve as an example. Relevant additional sources (e. g., post route maps and historical city maps) will be prepared and integrated as linked data into the database of the research infrastructure. The main result of the project is the development of novel ontology design patterns for travel reports and travel routes. Particularly important is the development of a new annotation scheme for interlinking marked text passages with corresponding database records. Furthermore, the project delivers semiotically informed visualization concepts for the analysis of historical travel. To achieve these objectives, the project uses open source components for the electronic research infrastructure and established standards such as TEI or DTABf-M and DTABf for the markup of historical travelogs and CIDOC CRM with CRMgeo for ontology-based modeling of travel events and itineraries. Existing modeling and annotation tools, which support Semantic Web and Linked Data technology, will be adapted and developed as components of the project, as they can be easily included in the modular e-Research infrastructure. The prospects for analysis and visualization based on the semantically prepared travel reports will be explored in a final conference with participants from the fields of history, digital and computational history, geoinformatics, and information science, as well as information visualization.

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