The Mediatheque Project
Meetings and the lectures given by the Nobel Laureates have been carefully documented since they began in 1951. Up until just a few years ago, almost all lectures and panel discussions were audio recorded while video recordings have been made since 2005. There is also an extensive picture archive, that serves as a comprehensive account of all meetings. The resulting multimedia archive represents one of the most extensive collections of top-level scientific lectures. The objective of the Lindau Mediatheque is to make this “digital treasure trove” (as it was dubbed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ) available to users and visitors from across the globe by means of a state-of-the-art web interface. Significant advances in the digitalisation of the content have been made in the last three years thanks to the financial support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Due to the kind support of the Bayrischer Rundfunk (BR) it is also possible to make the earliest recordings available in the mediatheque.
Editorial content, targeted not only at university students and young researchers, but also at a broad audience, is continuously added to the mediatheque. This content includes the definition of Topic Clusters and Mini Lectures that are developed around selected research fields, continuous cataloguing and digitalisation as well as the translation and transcription of content. Former Minister of Education Annette Schavan highlighted the importance of the mediatheque and announced the support of her ministry in her speech at the opening ceremony of the 61st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The project, which will be financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Carl Zeiss Foundation is to be finalised in two years’ time.
Content covering more than 400 Laureates and 67 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
To date, more than 300 video lectures, about 400 abstracts and almost 300 CVs covering more than 400 Laureates and 67 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are available online. Unfortunately, no audio recordings from the first meeting in 1951 have been found so far. Therefore, the mediatheque timeline begins with two lectures from the 1952 Lindau Meeting: Otto Hahn (Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944) lecturing on "Radiochemistry and the Fission of Uranium”, and Frederick Soddy (Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1922) speaking about "Isotopes". In cooperation with the Council’s Executive Secretariat, Anders Bárány, former Vice-Director of the Nobel Museum as well as member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, is continuing to edit selected lectures. He also provides a commentary that establishes the correct historical context for the lectures. Adam Smith, the Editorial Director of nobelprize.org, is another advisor to the mediatheque project.
Audio documents and annotated historical pictures are put in context with atmospheric video films. Lectures are mainly in English, but there are a limited number of lectures in the original language German, particularly from the early years of the Meeting. These are transcribed and translated into English in order for them to be accessible to a broad international audience. The intention is to later expand the spectrum of languages covered through cooperation with international Academic Partners and academies of science to include - Spanish, Italian or Chinese transcriptions. A first step in this direction is a cooperation agreement with the Italian Fondazione Cariplo. This international outreach project will not only improve the mediatheque’s accessibility, but will also raise international awareness of the ‘Mission Education’.
‘Mission Education’: From Data to Comprehensive Understanding
A major motivator behind the mediatheque project is the idea of interweaving the worlds of science and society. The Nobel Laureates, who have utilised their scientific expertise to the greatest benefit of society, are ambassadors and role models of this approach—as mediators between the two worlds and as guarantors of a sublime level of content quality. Thanks to the support of donors and the assistance of experts, the mediatheque is in a position to provide high-quality and high-value information free of charge to everyone with an interest in science.
Data becomes information becomes knowledge becomes comprehensive understanding - facilitating the progression along this value chain is at the core of the mediatheque concept. Only when specialised scientific information is embedded into a greater context and only if the dots are connected to paint a bigger picture can there be true public appreciation of scientific endeavours. The mediatheque project deals with this challenge by integrating diachronically interweaved, interdisciplinary information into its overall concept. The sophisticated editorial concept ensures that carefully researched and target group-oriented content offers additional information about each Nobel Laureate and their lectures and that this information is easily accessible. One tool to achieve this is the so-called Topic Clusters, which combine media from more than six decades in order to make topics like the “Cosmology” or “X-ray Crystallography” easily accessible to a wider public. They bring together the original voices of some of the pioneers of a field with explanations by a narrator. In this respect, the mediatheque will follow in the footsteps of the “Discoveries” exhibition series on Mainau Island in which special focus was placed on explaining scientific outcomes to a broad public.
Benefiting from the Lindau Mediatheque
The mediatheque is an excellent resource for aspiring and established scientists, as it offers enriched and developed but unabridged and unfiltered original scientific material. The comprehensive supply of media is an ideal source of information for carrying out research and preparing topics for particular meetings, in some cases maybe even a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The high scientific relevance of the mediatheque content is exemplified by the recent creation of a habilitation project, which focuses exclusively on the picture archives associated with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and investigates the changes in the visual language of scientific communication. The extensive content processing of lectures and other documentation available in the archive means that we can expect a range of exciting, perhaps even surprising, insights into the history of science in the future. For example, it was recently discovered that the last lecture given by the late Laureate Niels Bohr was in fact held in Lindau.
The mediatheque will not only conserve the Laureates’ contributions to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings for years to come, it will make their lectures available for free, throughout the year. Hence, the mediatheque may encourage Laureates to come back to Lindau to share their new results and insights, especially knowing that these will be heard beyond Lindau.
The mediatheque may also become a valuable feature of the “Lindau Teachers Initiative” launched in 2011. By allowing teachers to harness the Laureates’ inspirational scientific and personal charisma for their lessons, it may help to bring abstract issues to life in the classroom. Moreover, it offers plenty of resources to support a modern, media-aided approach towards teaching, e.g. Mini Lectures (edited short versions of lectures), Topic Clusters and Nobel Labs 360°. By providing this type of content, the Council and Foundation aim to attract more students to scientific subjects.
Furthermore, journalists will be able to use the mediatheque for their own research and thus supplement their scientific-historical research with “Lindau perspectives”.