Professor Irene Dingel, Director, Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG), Section "Abendländische Religionsgeschichte", Mainz.
You are all very welcome to our symposium "EGO | European History Online: Review and Outlook". I extend a warm welcome to you also on behalf of my fellow director at the "Leibniz Institute of European History" and my fellow chief editor of European History Online, Johannes Paulmann.
"European History Online – EGO for short – is a transcultural, multimedia history of Europe in the early modern and modern period on the internet." This is how we have always described our project at public presentations, using this opening sentence which refers to all the main aspects of the project.
EGO is published by the "Leibniz Institute of European History" (IEG). As a research institute that is not integrated into a university, through EGO we are preforming a central duty: to conduct fundamental research into the history of Europe from an interdisciplinary perspective, and to make this research accessible to the public. In so doing, we also engage in international collaboration with other institutions and researchers from as varied an array of historical sub-disciplines as possible.
EGO has been online since December 2010. It went live during a live video conference involving ten European research institutions and partners of the IEG. To date, more than 200 original articles have been published in the ten thematic threads and linked to multimedia content. The articles are generally published bilingually (German and English) and are available in open access.
Starting in 2007, the development of EGO was funded for two years by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. In 2009, it received a further four years of funding (up to autumn 2014) from the "German Research Foundation". After this project phase has been completed in the autumn of 2014, EGO will enter "regular operation". By then, the range of articles will have been largely completed and we will start to update the existing articles (by publishing new editions).
We have gathered here in this symposium today at the beginning of this phase of transition to take stock, to critically evaluate what has been achieved so far, and to identify options for consolidation and further development in the regular operation phase. After all, online publications offer the possibility of ongoing adaptation (unlike large-scale publications in print, we do not have to invest years in the preparation of a new edition).
While the basic design of European History Online remains the same, its implementation is open to adaptation. Therefore, at this symposium we do not wish to discuss EGO in general terms, for example, the forms of academic communication in the digital era, that is, publication in open access, open peer reviews and academic blogs. Rather, we wish to place the academic concept and the actual digital implementation of European History Online at the centre of our discussion and up for discussion, including critical discussion. Dr Joachim Berger, the coordinator – and to an extent the inventor – of European History Online will discuss this in greater detail in his introduction.
At this point, it is my pleasure to offer thanks on behalf of the IEG and both of its directors to:
- the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the "German Research Foundation" for their generous support of the project as a whole;
- the members of the editorial board for their great efforts in engaging authors and evaluating articles, an arduous and often difficult task;
- our authors – both external and from the IEG – some of whom are present here today;
- our three speakers Helmut Trischler, László Kontler and Jürgen Wilke, and the external commentators Ms Immacolata Amodeo, Mr Marco Jorio and Mr Alexander Badenoch, who have kindly agreed to participate in our symposium;
- our project partner the Trier Center for Digital Humanities (an expertise centre of the University of Trier) and the EGO team there. The online editing system and the user interface were both designed and developed in Trier.
The director of the Center, Ms Claudine Moulin, has joined us from Trier and has agreed to chair the second section of our symposium. Allow me to introduce her now:
Since 2003, Claudine Moulin has been professor of early German philology (historical linguistics with an emphasis on medieval German) at the University of Trier, and the director of the "Center for Digital Humanities" at the university. She has contributed greatly to the development of the digital humanities in the German-speaking countries through her numerous digital research projects and publications, and she chaired the "Digital Humanities and Research Infrastructures" expert group in the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation (ESF). As a native Luxembourger, multilingualism and internationality are central to her academic interests.
The third discussion group on "Mediality" will be chaired by Mr Wolfgang Schmale. He has been professor of modern history at the University of Vienna since 1999. He is the author of a number of survey works which have become standards, such as Geschichte Europas and Geschichte und Zukunft der europäischen Identität. Mr Schmale has had close ties to the IEG for a number of years, including as a member of the academic advisory board of the IEG, and he has been involved in European History Online from the beginning as a specialist editor and as the author of central articles. Wolfgang Schmale took an interest in the relationship between the "new media" and the humanities from an early stage, and he identified connectivity, hypertext and multimediality as an opportunity for a more intensive engagement with the history of Europe.
And now I wish you interesting and productive discussions.