Linternauta
Linternauta: A Web Application for the Interpretation of Magic Lantern Slides According To Discursive Genre. 1. Introduction Projections of images accompanied by text recitals and the performance of musical melodies obtained significant sociocultural relevance in Europe between the first half of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth. To fulfil their aims, these projections used a new technological device that was given such labels as fantoscope or projection lantern and whose name was lent to a very popular medium for social communication known as the magic lantern. Its central element was a set of projection slides that were usually made from transparent glass. The slides contained images that illustrated a wide range of genres, from fables and children’s stories to allegories, comedies, information and current events. Many institutions and private collectors hold magic lantern slides, but cannot address the essential task of cataloging them in order to disseminate their enormous heritage value. There are large numbers of magic lantern slides which are properly preserved, but often lack an optimal organization to establish their meaning and cultural significance. The dispersion of collections of magic lantern slides has been one of the main obstacles to producing a systematic study. The magic lantern slides are distributed among the four major heritage traditions: private collection, archive, library and museum. For example, a magic lantern slide can be an item of monetary value inwhen in a private collection, a file of the records of a particular organization when in an archive, a repository of information, a historical document or an intellectual or artistic creation when in a library, and a work of art for public enjoyment when in a museum. If a magic lantern slide can fit legitimately within these four traditions, it means that our knowledge of these slides as part of our cultural heritage suffers from a worrying dispersion and as a consequence from a lack of conceptual definition. In that case, addressing a classification of magic lantern slides may not only reduce these negative effects, but can also contribute many benefits to their systematic study, and by extension, to understanding the magic lantern as a medium for social communication. Despite the magic lantern’s undoubted influence in modern-era European, it has had only a residual presence as an object of scholarly study. How can the educational potential of magic lantern slides that are scattered in collections across Europe be organized, interpreted and exploited? To contribute to solving this problem, Linternauta seeks to achieve an objective: to develop a classification for magic lantern slides to implement a web application geared toward educational interpretation of them. As part of the A Million Pictures (https://a-million-pictures.wp.hum.uu.nl/) research project, a research team at the University of Salamanca (Observatory for Audiovisual Contents, http://www.ocausal.es) carried out an exploratory empirical study of 198 magic lantern slide sets using content analysis with the objective of classifying the slides according to discursive genre. The content analysis applied to this taxonomic organization of magic lantern slides was intented intended to open up the neglected and extensive visual heritage of the magic lantern and to provide guidelines for making magic lantern slides available as historical sources for research into European cultural history. This exploratory empirical study has contributed two results of special relevance to the project: a) a controlled vocabulary that facilitates the classification of magic lantern slides according to their discursive genre, the result of an empirical study using content analysis; and b) Linternauta, a web application, developed using the vocabulary obtained through the content analysis, that helps with the interpretation of the cultural heritage of magic lantern slide collections. 2. Methodology and empirical data To resolve this dilemma, the team of researchers from the University of Salamanca worked based on the following problems: To the extent that magic lantern slides were part of series or collections of a greater expressive range and were grouped in the context of magic lantern sessions, might discursive genre be a sufficiently productive criterion for organizing the cultural content of magic lantern slides? If in their own era discursive genres, gave lanternists and spectators relative mastery over the physical processes of producing and reading the content of magic lantern projections, in the present, might the same genres be the key for accessing such content from the point of view of a contemporary spectator? The work plan is based on the use of content analysis as the scientific method of classification, which in turn is based on the reading of messages as a tool for gathering information. Content analysis allows the accumulated presence of invariant elements to be established, in order to statistically evaluate their internal relationship, and then to form indicators that define a typology and, consequently, a standardized vocabulary. Achieving this goal involves performing the following activities (Neuendorf 2002): 2.1. Formulate the objective The objective is a controlled and hierarchical vocabulary that provides information on the nature of magic lanterns as media messages. This vocabulary was to consist of sufficient terms to be able to articulate the “relational architecture” of a web application, which would become the outcome of the University of Salamanca team’s contribution to the project A Million Pictures. 2.2. Formulate the hypothesis The original hypothesis states that discursive genres can turn into organizational criteria; in addition, this involves criteria capable of offering a typology of slides according to the principles of mutual exclusion, uniformity, completeness, relevance, clarity and productivity. The discursive genre as a theoretical construct (Bakhtin, 1982 or Del Río and Álvarez, 2011), based on two kinds of observations: first, a direct one, understand the magic lantern slide as a material element of cultural heritage, and second, another indirect one, obtained from an interpretation on what the screen image from the slide in a magic lantern show would look like. For this second element, we also took into account whether there were other relevant performance elements to interpret this screen image. This second, indirect, observation must be inferred from additional documentation accompanying the slide, such as readings or printed brochures, the testimony of observers of the time, or the hypotheses of researchers in the field. 2.3. Conceptualize and operationalize relevant variables. Content analysis does not have to take into account all the variables that a message can contain, but only those that can be considered relevant or critical variables, i.e. those that become central to developing a good understanding of a sample of messages according to the purpose and hypotheses of the study. The discursive genre refers to the existence of a previous scheme that favors the perception, comprehension and recall of the messages contained on the magic lantern slides. These discursive genres of magic lantern slides would be their invariant elements, those that transcend differences of content, and therefore not only exert their own influence on how the message is processed, but also could be a good criterion for producing a taxonomy of magic lantern slides. The discursive genre of magic lantern slides must be operationalized in order to transform them into empirical variables or indicators, and then obtain a category system that allows quantification and facilitates their encoding. 2.4. Create the codebook The codebook developed by the research team is a document that lists the genre categories used in the research. To achieve the target set in this study, our codebook has operational definitions for each of the relevant variables that we suspect to articulate the discursive genre. Since the discursive genre in the context of the magic lantern as a social medium works as a system of expectations for both the receivers and the senders, and as a model for producing meaning, the assembly of the relevant variables associated with the with the production, exhibition and reception conditions of graphically registered contents in magic lantern slides is proposed as its operational definition is proposed as its operational definition. These conditions allowed the viewers a relative mastery of their care processes and information processing; likewise, they provided guidelines to lanternists on their production routines and/or display of magic lantern shows. For greater clarity, the full codebook (Frutos and López, accepted) bring together for each of the 116 variables relevant information on the name of the variable, its operational definition and the operational definition of each element of its category system. 2.5. Analyse a sample group of set of magic lantern slides Once the codebook had passed the validity testing—and therefore it had been ensured that it “measures what is intended to be measured, and all necessary elements or facets have been included” (Igartua 2006, 211)—the sample for analysis was chosen. The sample selected through non-probability sampling strategy comprised 52 sets of projection slides deposited in the Historical Baccalaureate Schools—available at the Web repository of the Virtual Library of Bibliographic Heritage—plus 146 sets of magic lantern slides from the Museu del Cinema’s Col·lecció Tomàs Mallol, since it is one of the largest collections in this area in Spain and even internationally. To arrive at this sample of slide sets, we applied the criterion of considering as a ‘set’ only series of slides that were represented by 6 or more units with thematic and commercial affinity, that were in a good state of conservation in the heritage collection. 2.6. Encode the sample Once the sample of the 198 sets of magic lantern slides to be analysed had been selected, we proceeded to code it in accordance with the codebook, which was undertaken by Francisco Javier Frutos (principal) and Carmen López San Segundo, and to checking of intercoder reliability. Once verified, the data collected in the coding were recorded in the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) statistical application’s file format in the form of a data record of the codes or numerical values that represent the analysed materials. 3. Linternauta: Future market perspectives when the innovation will be fully available or in use Linternauta offer a perspective on the future for interpreting and socializing magic lantern slides in the current context of educational communities. This objective would build on the following hypotheses and assumptions: a) The content of magic lantern slides had a highly important historical role in the socialization of scientific culture in educational communities between 1845 and 1936. b) To socialize magic lantern slides in the current context of the educational communities, it is necessary to combine heritage focused education and citizen participation. To achieve the first objective, I would design an empirical and descriptive content analysis study that would address the construction and reception of the concept of ‘scientific culture’ in the educational system (1845-1936) via the visual content provided in classrooms through the use of magic lanterns. To pursue the second objective, I would implement a collaborative digital platform to facilitate and promote the joint work of researchers, teachers, students or any other member of the educational community currently involved in the socialization of cultural heritage linked to magic lantern iconography repertoires. On the basis of the experience gained from Linternauta the idea would be to develop a platform that integrates and connects with other web repositories such as Europeana and that also facilitates access to databases linked to sets of slides that are of interest to the educational community and that are to be found in archives, museums, universities and national or international institutes. On the platform, it would also be possible to create and share best practice guides, virtual exhibitions, educational units or extracurricular activities that are conducted in the context of the project and incorporate a significant element of magic lantern slides. References Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1982. Estética de la creación verbal. México: Siglo XXI. Del Río, Pablo, and Amelia Álvarez. 2011. “La actividad como problema de desarrollo. Algunos potenciales educativos del eco-funcionalismo y la psicologia historico-cultural”. Cultura y Educación, 23 (4): 601-619. Igartua, Juan José. 2006. Métodos cuantitativos de investigación en comunicación. Barcelona: Bosch. Neuendorf, Kimberly A. 2002. The Content Analisis Guidebook. London, New Delhi: Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.

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