Children have a distinctive view of the world, and yet their world is always shaped and influenced by the society in which they grow up. Which ideas about the world surrounded children and young people 100 years ago, in an age of both increased nationalism and advancing globalisation?
The digital humanities project “Welt der Kinder” started in May 2014 and is designed as a test model for future similar projects. By very close cooperation between historians, information scientists, and computer scientists, it aims to gain new insights about the period from 1850 until 1918, a time in which an accelerated production of knowledge was dominated by both globalization and nationalisation at the same time.
The “Welt der Kinder” project is a cooperation between the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Brunswick, the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) located in Frankfurt and Berlin, Technical University Darmstadt, the Universities of Hildesheim, Göttingen and Zurich, and the Bavarian State Library (BSB) in Munich.
The research will provide access to German-language "mass sources" that both reflected and formed two things: world interpretation patterns and elements of cultural memory. Diachronic and synchronic analyses about the (trans)formation of knowledge inventories are employed as well as meta analyses to strengthen the potential provided by insights gained through digital methods.
This poster gives insights into the computer scientists perspektive.
“Welt der Kinder” has four main goals:
Historical research about representations and interpretations of the world in the period from 1850 until 1918.
Exploration of a specific media type (textbooks and juvenile literature) that influenced millions of later citizens, but has never been investigated in an integrated approach that considers media type, circulation, and transformation of collective knowledge.
Combining established hermeneutic methodology with innovative methods and technologies for the exploration and scientific annotation of large amounts of text data.
Fundamental research in computational linguistics, developing and adapting methods of semantic analysis and opinion mining to the specific language of the 19th century and of the media type.
As its basic research resource, the project uses a still growing corpus of several thousands of books, which have been scanned and digitalized. The collection comprises more than 600,000 pages so far.
Due to their size, however, such sources cannot be penetrated by hermeneutic methods exclusively. In interdisciplinary and exploratory research, reusable tools are therefore developed for the analysis of large (digital) corpora. These tools comply with the semantics of different educational media of the 19th century (textbooks and juvenile literature) and discover “qualitative” structures. In this way we take a – for historians – new approach who are not used to analyse digitalised material with more than full-text search.
"Welt der Kinder" is funded by the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft.