MSCA Grant Award

I am really excited and looking forward to my MSCA resaerch project at University of Sussex on Digital Forensics in the Historical Humanities (Hanif Kureishi’s private digital archive at BL, The Mass Observation Archive, Glyn Moody’s private digital archive). The project will run for 12 months and I will be located in the Department of History and the Sussex Humanities Lab at UoS. I am looking forward to work together with the great team at UoS and especially with James Baker, see also his blog post.

Need for digital forensic literacy in the humanities and in the public debate

During the day of the second, decisive election round for the French Presidency in 2017, where potentially the European Union’s future is at stake, the story of the hack of Emmanuel Macron’s team of and a following leak (#MacronLeak) sweeps the WWW, the professional journalist media and the social media. This hack and this leak are obviously strategically targeted to cause uncertainty, delegitimise the democratic process and potentially even to spread disinformation. It is interesting that preliminary critical evaluations of the leaked digital material and speculations about the way it has been disseminated throughout the social media involve aspects of digital forensic analysis. The thorough analysis of this incident and the materials will take much longer and it is at the moment unclear whether the whodunit-and-why question will be answered beyond a good guess.

The tendency that leaks of stolen born digital material are being used by anonymous parties to manipulate electoral campaigns might be worrying, but instead of calling out on digital arms (for a balanced perspective, see also “Bots unter Generalverdacht“), I am more interested in the long term research perspective for the humanities that opens up here. Matthew Kirschenbaum already pointed out it his KISLAK lectures at UPenn Libraries that the historian who wants to write the history of the electoral campaign for the 45th presidency of the United States would have to take tweets, facebook and instagram posts into account as primary records:

How could a future historian or political scientist hope to understand anything about our current election cycle without access to blogs, tweets, facebook, youtube and instagram? (00:25:27)

Kirschenbaum said this a good while before the public was confronted with the question of whether the leaked emails from the Democrats’ hack were authentic or which role the announcement of the forensic investigation of A. Weiner’s seized hard drive would play in the final phase of the election.

I think that this – in a tip-of-the-iceberg manner – demonstrates the gravity and social impact of the digital forensic challenge that all of the humanities from history, social sciences, archival studies, law studies to literature and art history are facing in cooperation with computer science, digital forensic research: granting the authenticity of the preserved born-digital historical record of important events, cultural heritage, works of art and develop scientifically sane methodology to analyse it and tell “authentic” from “wrong” or “manipulated” (read especially Blanchettes Burdens of Proof, 2012). This is not only important in the longer term perspective of historical research – a historian will definitely need digital forensic knowledge in the future – it is also important to provide the public with awareness and methods to evaluate digital sources correctly in order to make informed democratic choices.


More interesting reads: DER SPIEGEL on tainted leaks and disinformation, referring to the article Tainted Leaks: Disinformation and Phishing With a Russian Nexus by the CiticenLab / University of Toronto. Further interesting read about the hacking response of the Macron campaign on NYTimes.

Workshop Screencast

Participants of my workshop “Introduction to Digital Forensics, Hard Drive Philology” (Ottawa, Edmonton) can download a screencast about our hands-on section. If I didn’t have your email address yet, please let me know so I can provide you with the link to the full screencast.

An intro is available here.


My personal website has been relaunched in the course of setting everything to SSL (with the help of letsencrypt). I wanted to use the opportunity to start over with my site, and be more consistent in my choice of blog topics.

Textdifferenz und komplexe Timelines dynamisch und interaktiv visualisieren

Kürzlich, genauer gesagt, auf der DHBenelux 2015, stand ich (einmal mehr) vor dem Problem, im Rahmen meines Forschungsprojekts zu Thomas Kling Textvarianz von nicht-normalisierten, natürlichsprachlichen Texten und den Zeitverlauf von Thomas Klings Projekt “Vorzeitbelebung” visuell eindrücklich darzustellen. Beide Aspekte sind so umfangreich in der Darstellung, dass sie nicht wirklich auf statische Folien zu bringen waren, dynamische, interaktive Lösungen mussten her. Continue reading Textdifferenz und komplexe Timelines dynamisch und interaktiv visualisieren

LaTeX: Zitieren mit Biber und dem Paket biblatex-dw

Für alle, die beim Schreiben von germanistischen Hausarbeiten und Dissertationen die Vorzüge des Textverarbeitungssystems LaTeX (sprich: [ˈlaːtɛç]) und des damit verbundenen Bibliografie-Systems BibTex nutzen wollen, habe ich einen Tipp (für die Anregung danke ich Michael Sellhoff).

Hat man einmal diesen Entschluss gefasst, kommt man schnell zu der Frage: Wie kann ich denn einen korrekten germanistischen Zitierstil mit BibTex verwenden? Die Antwort ist: mit den Paketen biber,biblatex und biblatex-dw (von Dominik Waßenhoven, vgl. auch Diese Pakete z.B. in der Distribution TexLive enthalten und müssen nicht extra installiert werden.

Continue reading LaTeX: Zitieren mit Biber und dem Paket biblatex-dw