A New Paradigm: the "Digital Scrapbook"

A New Paradigm: the "Digital Scrapbook"


The Digital Scrapbook is a new document format for the Web, serving as an interactive and collaborative virtual workspace for the digital humanities. It integrates excerpts from digital libraries with tools for their cooperative analysis and commentary, and supports workflows for the cumulative report of intermediate results to the final publication.



Electronic tools as they are currently available cover and support almost the entire scholarly workflow, from the identification of historical sources to the publication of their interpretation. At present, this workflow is, however, characterized by numerous media breaks at which potentially relevant information, for instance about links between different sources or between sources and secondary literature, is lost or not adequately presented. Images or transcriptions of sources, bibliographical references, comments and annotations produced in the context of ongoing research, cross-references to other relevant materials, dictionary entries, geographic information, search histories etc. are often not preserved and have to be reproduced in different stages of work. In order to address this well-known challenge of work in the humanities, the vision of a „digital scrapbook“ is jointly beeing developed with the Max Planck Digital Library (Frank Sander, Jürgen Renn, Jochen Büttner, Robert Casties, Dirk Wintergrün).

The digital scrapbook supports the full spectrum of source-based scholarly work, from the first annotation to the final publication, in a unified format supported by the same tools. The scrapbook manifests itself in the combination of a particular document type (the scrapbook document) with modular tools. Through shared methods of access, collection, annotation, referencing and visualization of sources, theses tools can generate, process, and store scrapbook documents. In the scrapbook paradigm the pathway from a digital excerpt, via its annotation and evaluation, to the final interpretation is a continuous process without media breaks. The digital sources are, from the beginning, part of an evolving network and remain accessible on the Web. Since a given source now knows about its interpretation, a network of connections and references emerges. The scrapbook paradigm thus comprises the classical approach of the humanities to source analysis, from annotation to publication, but goes beyond it by including reversibility and interactivity.

A further step from the vision of an integrated digital research environment to its realisazion has been taken by evaluating existing software and developing an plan for the implementiation.



Bulatovic, N., Saquet, B., Schlender, M., Wintergrün, D., & Sander, F. (2015). Digital Scrapbook – can we enable interlinked and recursive knowledge equilibrium?. Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte. http://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/Preprints/P474.PDF http://pubman.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/pubman/item/escidoc:730411:1/component/escidoc:730409/p474.pdf