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Visualizing Uncertainty and Perspectives

Different views of the past

Strengthening the methodology of digital humanities

humanities and social sciences

Visualizing Uncertainty and Perspectives

Visualizing Uncertainty and Perspectives

Strengthening the methodology of digital humanities

Subjectivity and uncertainty form an integral part of Humanities research, sometimes even of the research object. Topics include subjectivity of authors (this chronicle’s writer is pro Burgundian), the nature of data (this chronicle likely mentions battles, but unlikely mentions raping and pillaging) and the time in which the data was created (‘a lot of people’ usually is summarised as ‘10.000 people’ in the late Middle-Ages). Text dominantly reflects interpersonal and subjective points of view rather than objective facts. In addition, language is often imprecise or underspecified resulting in another level of subjectivity (for example spatial information is not well captured in language and perceptual values are expressed through scalar and relative words). Even humanities scholars aiming to be objective generally bring their own perspective and view of the past, a text tradition or painting.

This project develops a tool that visualizes subjectivity, perspective and uncertainty to make them controllable variables. The tool allows users to compare information from different sources representing alternative perspectives and visualize subjectivity and uncertainty. Such a visualization enables improved and comprehensive source criticism, provides new directions of research and strengthens the methodology of digital humanities.

Image: Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog

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