• Digital Diplomatics: What could the Computer Change in the Study of Medieval Documents?

    Georg Vogeler (see profile)
    Digital humanities, Diplomatics
    Item Type:
    diplomatics, computer, digital humanities, methodology, critical edition, palaeography
    Permanent URL:
    The essay discusses the research possibilities created by the computer for diplomatic research. Following the steps of traditional scholarly work with medieval documentary heritage (heuristics, documentation, comparison, grouping, establishing rules, diplomatic critique, scholarly edition) it evaluates recent studies applying digital methods to charters. It argues that the easier accessibility of images online, the possibility to process large numbers of documents and a new conceptualisation of editing bring significant changes to diplomatics. It tries to identify the major changes in five fields: (1) verbal description is characterised by classification, rather than representation; (2) visual evaluation is enhanced by easy access to images and by the help of image analysis software; (3) full text search supported by natural language processing software makes it possible to connect a single charter to others hidden in large charter corpora characteristic of the Late Middle Ages; (4) statistical methods and visualization of large data sets helps to see the single charter in its full contemporary context; (5) digital editing can aggregate work done separately in one common representation and makes the editors’ knowledge on the documents explicit. Raising the question if this “digital diplomatics” is fundamentally different from pre-digital diplomatics, it comes to the conclusion that digital diplomatics helps to relieve the research of medieval documents from epistemological constraints determined by the conceptualisation of its results as to be represented in the form of a printed book.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    9 months ago


    Item Name: pdf 11.-initial-2-2014-vogeler.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 32