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Challenging Television Historiography in an Analogue World

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Presentation by Dana Mustata (RUG) at the NECS Conference 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal, in the panel 'Unstable Histories: The Problem of Seeing and Understanding 'Old' Television in the Digital Age'.

Presentation by Dana Mustata (RUG) at the NECS Conference 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal, in the panel 'Unstable Histories: The Problem of Seeing and Understanding 'Old' Television in the Digital Age'.

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  • 1. Challenging Television Historiography in an Analogue World Dana Mustata Groningen University The Netherlands Lisbon, NECS, June 2012Connected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 2. The Digital and the Historian Andreas Fickers, Towards a New Digital Historicism? Doing History in the Age of Abundance Journal of European Television History and Culture, http://journal.euscreen.eu According to Roy Rosenzweig, one of the few historians who has discussed and promoted the phenomenon of ‘digital history’ since the 1990s, most of his fellow colleagues tend to brush off discussions on digitization as ‘technical’ issues and assume a professional division of responsibility: while archivists have to deal with the problem of digitization of sources as it touches the questions of conservation and preservation, historians neglect these problems and focus on the problem of authenticity and reliability. (Fickers, 2012)Connected to: ‘Historians need to be thinking simultaneously about how to research, write and teach in a world of unhead-of historical abundance…’ (Rosenzweig qtd. in Fickers, 2012) Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 3. Challenges of the Digital Turn for the Historian - Lack of methodologies to interpret the displaced source - Lack of approaches to cope with the questionable ‘authenticity’ of the online source - The conservation of research practices thatConnected to: are outdated for the new environment Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 4. The Analogue Historian in a Digital World? User testing with TV researchers in Euscreen (focus group meetings; face-to-face interviews; survey among the European Television History Network) revealed that: - Online sources are mostly used for illustration purposes - Research practices take place outside the web platforms/online AV collections and preferably through archival institutions - Most preferred online practices of TV historians include text-Connected to: based practice: searching; accessing metadata; saving search results; embedding Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 5. The paradox of abundance in the digital world While media texts proliferate in an ever growing abundance, the media text itself does little to enhance television history research in this age of abundance. Never before has the media text been more estranged from the principles of order and origin, central to the historian’s pursuit forConnected to: authenticity. Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 6. Television Historiography in the Digital World Arguments: 1) The digital AV source becomes a ‘networked’* object, that not only places the text in relation to other texts, but which also makes visible the agencies interacting in the construction of their history 2) An anthropological approach’** to uses of online AV material can provide useful insight into what a digital television historiography may entail • Latour (2005)Connected to: • Latour (1979; 1986), Couldry (2010) Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 7. Journey through curating a European Television History…Connected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 8. Paper-prototypingConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 9. WireframingConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 10. Connected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 11. ResearchingConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 12. Narrating historyConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 13. Anthropological approach to digital TV Historiography Paraphrasing Nick Couldry (2010): What are historians (individuals, groups, institutions) doing in relation to media in digital contexts*? A ‘practice aproach to digital TV historiography would decentralize the view on television as objects, texts, apparatuses of perception or production processes and focus instead on what historians, archivists are doing in relation to online television sources. Digital TV Historiography as a social construction’, an interaction between different agencies (historians, archivists),Connected to: working tools (the web) and access to specific theories (histories) (Latour, 1979; 1986). Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 14. Starting from the the premise that the digital environment becomes a platform where different actors (historians, archivists, users, etc.) interact with one another in producing television history, the challenge of the television historian in the digital age becomes a deconstructive as much as an anthropological one, so as to take account of and reflect on the agencies involved in the construction of historical narratives.Connected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 15. Practices of Doing Television History in EUscreen Collaboration: across expertise fields, rather than disciplinesConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 16. Translation: from descriptive to active languageConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 17. Building bridges: the pro-active historianConnected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 18. Practices of television history in e.g. EUscreen reveal that knowledge is constituted in different spaces (delineated by expertise, language, and professional attitudes). Digital television history is best suited to what Foucault (1969) advocated as a method of discontinuity.Connected to: Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu
  • 19. Doing Digital Television Historiography The digital source becomes a ‘networked object that stands in relation to other online texts and allows for interactions between historians, archivists, users, etc. A self-reflexive anthropological approach to digital AV databases, rather than attention to the text itself, becomes essential. Historical knowledge in the digital environment is constituted in different spaces of expertise, which decentralizes the prioritization of temporality in digital historiography and lends itself best to a method of discontinuity’. Only after accounting for these different spaces of practice, canConnected to: the historian can go further into pursuing the historical context. Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus programme www.euscreen.eu