Metasource

The rise of the digital age has lead to a shift from “source” to “document” to “data”. Thus, the historian needs a new approach to these digitized sources, which can be qualified, according to the French historian Jean-Philippe Genet, as „metasources”. What makes a „source” a „metasource” is the fact that the „original” and „authentic” source has lived through a cycle of recoding and re-contextualization. As a consequence, sources available in an online archive for example are never authentic sources, but a copy of a copy of copy etc… The concept of „metasource” needs a critical approach in terms of traditional source criticism. The most important aspect about „metasources” is to think about the source’s life cycle, which can only be done if the source is enriched with a sufficient amount of „metadata”. Therefore, the act of source criticism in relation to „metasources” is no more concerned about enquiries about „originality” or „authenticity”, but about the „metasources” life cycle, an analysis that can provide new historical knowledge.

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