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Communication about the Past. Memory Formation and the Social Web

Communication about the Past. Memory Formation and the Social Web

In all current social processes for establishing identity, a central component is, in fact, communication about the past. This is something that the current "memory boom” is, not least, demonstrating, as it also makes clear what a large role the mass media play in the negotiation of concepts and interpretations of history in society. The digitally-networked media too are increasingly entering into what is a particular sphere of activity within the overall culture of memory.

These "online memory cultures” (Dörte Hein) produce numerous mechanisms and formats to generate, collect, collate, archive, share and communicate historical knowledge. At the same time, they change the roles actors usually perform. Established "professional” actors from the areas of journalism and of historical information use the new possibilities and participate through interactive contributions, but "non-professional” actors also appear, consider themselves chroniclers of their times and actively adopt the possibilities for communication. In the German-speaking sphere, as well as internationally, internet projects are evolving, which aim at conserving and communicating (recent) historical contexts, and within this framework users configure memories, impressions and experiences. This is obviously bound up with the most varied expectations placed on their communicative activity, be it directed to "posterity”, as contributions specific to particular groups or generations respectively, or be it documents of their everyday life in personal dimensions of the public sphere.

The research field is opening up in this way and is gaining increasing attention nationally as well as internationally; we are currently addressing it in a survey of the studies existing to date. Our goal is to identify gaps in the research, to develop a model for classifying actors, to present criteria for investigating the different contributions from possible communicative accomplishments and hence to analyse which of them fulfil the processes of remembering, as users generate them.

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Project Description

In all current social processes for establishing identity, a central component is, in fact, communication about the past. This is something that the current "memory boom” is, not least, demonstrating, as it also makes clear what a large role the mass media play in the negotiation of concepts and interpretations of history in society. The digitally-networked media too are increasingly entering into what is a particular sphere of activity within the overall culture of memory.

These "online memory cultures” (Dörte Hein) produce numerous mechanisms and formats to generate, collect, collate, archive, share and communicate historical knowledge. At the same time, they change the roles actors usually perform. Established "professional” actors from the areas of journalism and of historical information use the new possibilities and participate through interactive contributions, but "non-professional” actors also appear, consider themselves chroniclers of their times and actively adopt the possibilities for communication. In the German-speaking sphere, as well as internationally, internet projects are evolving, which aim at conserving and communicating (recent) historical contexts, and within this framework users configure memories, impressions and experiences. This is obviously bound up with the most varied expectations placed on their communicative activity, be it directed to "posterity”, as contributions specific to particular groups or generations respectively, or be it documents of their everyday life in personal dimensions of the public sphere.

The research field is opening up in this way and is gaining increasing attention nationally as well as internationally; we are currently addressing it in a survey of the studies existing to date. Our goal is to identify gaps in the research, to develop a model for classifying actors, to present criteria for investigating the different contributions from possible communicative accomplishments and hence to analyse which of them fulfil the processes of remembering, as users generate them.

Project Information

Overview

Duration: 2012-2015

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
Senior Researcher Research Centre Media History

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Forschungsstelle Mediengeschichte
Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 428 38 - 32 02
Fax +49 (0)40 428 38 - 35 53
mobile: upon request at +49 (0)40 450 217 - 0

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