William DUBA
(Université de Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Keywords: fragments, medieval manuscripts, interoperability, open science

Three technologies have revolutionized scholarly approaches to visual heritage: digital imaging, online databases, and the interoperability paradigm. These technologies have had an impact on how scholars in the humanities do their research, and in the most dramatic cases, have opened entire new fields for investigation. Such is the case with the study of medieval manuscript fragments. Scattered around the world and hidden in boxes and books, fragments suffer from an at-risk existence. Unlike manuscript books, they offer only a few pages of the text that they carry and they usually begin and end in the middle; thus, individually, they require more time and produce less rewards than their complete counterparts. Digitization has made it possible to study these fragments systematically. Online databases have dramatically reduced the labor required to identify and describe fragments. The interoperability paradigm, that is, the orientation of research and resources towards collaborative use and reuse, can provide the catalyst. The Swiss National Science Foundation research project, Fragmentarium, has shown how to bring these three technologies together so that a constellation of scholars and research projects around the world can collaboratively produce a new field of research, Fragmentology.

Relevance for the conference: The proposed communication shows how the new, interoperable approaches to visual heritage have been harnessed to assemble an international team and build a new discipline in manuscript studies.
Relevance for the session: The paper provides a case study in building a virtual environment to bring together fragmented written material along with the researchers needed to study them.
Innovation: Fragmentarium does not just build for interoperability; it builds upon it.