Launch of the EVZ program digital // memory in the iRights.Lab Palazzo
At the event introducing the digital // memory program, initiated by the Stiftung "Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft"(Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ),
discussions focused on how new digital tools can contribute to a contemporary culture of remembrance, as well as on how to counter hate speech and anti-Semitism online. The iRights.Lab has partnered with the EVZ to develop and implement a program to accompany digital // memory. The event, under the title “Let's make history! Tackling Hate Speech and Anti-Semitism in the Digital Age,” focused on some of the core issues facing digital // memory. At stake is nothing less than the development of new digital formats for historical-political education.
Attendees were welcomed to the iRightsLab.Palazzo conference room by Dr. Andreas Eberhardt, Chairman of EVZ, and Dr. Wiebke Glässer, Head of Operations at iRights.Lab. The main program was moderated by Lilian Emonds from iRights.Lab. It opened with an introduction to the four projects from Germany and two from Poland that were financed by the program. Emonds invited the project representatives onstage, where they presented the digital resources they are currently developing. In addition, they discussed the challenges facing historical-political education in Germany and Poland and the ways in which they believe digital tools can contribute to maintaining a culture of remembrance, even as this culture is entering a period of flux as a result of the digitalization of society at large.
Sebastian Tröger (Nuremberg Municipal Museums/Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds) presented a serious game called “Behind the Scenes: Nürnberg ’34,” which he is developing as part of a team, that aims to help users engage with the Nazi Party congress of 1934. The goal is to question and critically reflect on Nazi propaganda as a construction. Alicja Wancerz-Gluza (KARTA Centre, Warsaw) described how she and her team plan on developing an interactive film about Polish-Jewish relations in Mordy since 1918. The hope is that through the engagement with historical events and personalities contemporary Polish-Jewish relations can be strengthened. Mona Brandt (Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur gGmbH, Berlin) then described how she and her colleagues are tackling the question of how computer games could substantially contribute to a culture of remembrance 4.0. To this end, the project plans to carry out a pitch jam to bring actors from the field of historical-political education together with new digital partners. Małgorzata Leszko (Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej, Warsaw) and her project team work closely with schools in Poland to create multimedia reports. By engaging with their own local history, pupils are driven to critically examine present-day forms of group-based enmity and exclusion. Céline Wendelgaß (Anne Frank Educational Center, Frankfurt a.M.) presented the project “The Game’s Not Over,” another serious game that her institution is developing in cooperation with various partners. It aims to give young people and educational specialists in particular the tools to better deal with radicalization, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories on social media. Finally, Björn Klein (University of Education FHNW, Muttenz/Switzerland) explained how he and his team are working on the ODRA system (Ordnen, Deuten, Richtigstellen, Annähern/Order, Interpret, Rectify, Approach), a Social Media Rapid Reaction Unit, which is designed to employ crawlers to filter out fake news on the basis of objective criteria.
The experts Prof. Dr. Magdalena Waligórska (University of Bremen, Institute for Historical Studies), Steffen Jost (Dachau Memorial) and Johannes Baldauf (Policy Programs Manager, Facebook) then discussed how the use of innovative tools can contribute to the strengthening of democracy, how history can be taught digitally, and how target audiences can be actively involved. Baldauf opened the panel discussion by explaining that the digital age offers the opportunity to directly address target groups that were previously difficult to reach or define. On the other hand, a fundamental discussion must be had regarding whom one wants to reach: the disseminators of hate speech or those affected by it. In the end, the answer to these questions determines where funding and other resources are to be directed. The ensuing discussion revealed that a great deal of groundwork still needs to be laid in the practical application of new digital formats: Waligórska pointed out, for example, that historians still adopt a wait-and-see approach to digital formats and that there are major differences in cultures of remembrance between countries, such as Poland and Germany, which must be taken into account. Jost, on the other hand, argued that memorials need to take a more bold and proactive approach to dealing with social media. Not only should memorials themselves offer new digital formats, but visitors should also be able to experiment with social media in processing and sharing their individual experiences of visiting memorials.
A web-based live-feedback system enabled the audience to participate directly in the discussions and submit questions to the project teams and the panel participants. During a workshop on the following day, representatives from the individual projects revisited the various points discussed during the launch event and were given the opportunity to network through in-depth discussions, identifying common themes and challenges impacting the further implementation of their projects.
Further information on digital // memory can be found here.
A photo gallery of the event can be found here.
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