Digital Classics Online (Dec 2016)

Ein Bild sagt mehr als 1000 Worte? Visualisierungen in den Digital Humanities.

  • Gary S. Schaal,
  • Kelly Lancaster

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 3
pp. 5 – 22


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In Digital Humanities, computer-generated visualizations are viewed as highly significant in obtaining scientific insights. However, only through a reflection on their theoretical foundations can we exhaust the epistemological potential of visualizations abiding by the principles of validity and reliability. Digital Humanities is still lacking both an epistemological basis and a best practice for an (hermeneutic) interpretation of visualizations generated by algorithms. This paper will address precisely this research gap in raising the question whether, and to what extent, approaches to the hermeneutic interpretation of computer-generated visualizations in the natural sciences can be applied to analyses in the Digital Humanities. It will provide an answer to this issue with recourse to Don Ihde’s theory of Postphenomenology. Though Postphenomenology supplies an epistemology and a visual hermeneutics for visualizations, both originate from and target solely the natural sciences. Whether the theory is applicable in the Digital Humanities is subject of further research.