Coding da Vinci Ost³: New scholarship projects focus on German history

By Andrea Lehr (Coding da Vinci)

Coding da Vinci has four new scholarship winners. A total of twelve scholarship candidates had applied for funding in the wake of Coding da Vinci Ost³. „Freiheit DIY“ (Freedom DIY) and „Radikale Gespräche“ (Radical Conversations) emerged as winning projects from the jury meeting on 6 July.

Based on the "Component Collection of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) in Matchboxes" of the Zuse-Computer-Museum (ZCOM) Hoyerswerda, "Freiheit DIY" develops a VR game in which the players combine components into a UHF converter

Die Bauelemente für den UHF-Converter liefert das Zusemuseum in Hoyerswerda, ZCOM-Stiftung, CC BY-SA 3.0
The components for the UHF converter are supplied by the Zuse Museum in Hoyerswerda, ZCOM-Foundation (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The players take on the perspective of a fictional character based on contemporary historical information, the "Electrical tinker". The e-tinker wants to receive western television and assembles a UHF converter with which he can upgrade his receiver. On the one hand, the game consists of assembling the individual parts in virtual reality and makes technology accessible. On the other hand, the game is about procuring the individual components in different ways, whereby the player is given a lot of knowledge about state censorship, the economic circumstances, and a bit of everyday life in the GDR. The Zuse Museum is planning to acquire five VR glasses with which visitors can immerse themselves in the project.

The jury praised the idea: "Freedom DIY" makes GDR history tangible, deals with important questions of freedom of information, uses open source data, and actively contributes to free replication. This creates a playful overall experience. The project has been elaborated on in great detail and the planned implementation is plausibly presented and meaningfully situated within the context of the Zuse Museum."

Digitalisate werden zu Spielkarten werden zu "Radikale Gespräche", Sonja Meiners, CC BY-SA 3.0
Digital copies turn into playing cards which become "Radical Conversastions", Sonja Meiners (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Three additional scholarships were awarded to the "Radical Conversations" team. Here, open data forms the basis for the design of a conversation-based card game that allows players to embark on a 15 to 30 minute journey through time into the 19th and early 20th Century. The prototype focuses on the social and political upheavals in the German-speaking world, with a particular focus on the links between the debates held at the time and the political discussions we are conducting today. The authors rely on a whole range of digital source material. The card game is set to be released by the end of 2022.

The approach triggered a very positive response among the scholarship jury, as well as among the audience of Coding da Vinci Ost³, who awarded the project the title "Everybody's Darling" at the award ceremony: "Radical Conversations" puts great historical themes, debates, and thoughts on contemporary issues into perspective and addresses neuralgic topics such as gender justice and sustainability. The card game can thus trigger discussions and historical reflections among the players, leading to radical conversations in the best sense of the word."

Die Jury zur Vergabe der Stipendien CdV Ost³ kam online zusammen. Coding da Vinci, CC BY-SA 4.0
The jury for the awarding of the CdV Ost³ scholarships met together online. Coding da Vinci (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The scholarship jury is reconvened following each hackathon. It is selected by the Coding da Vinci founders, the respective event team, and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation). Those present this time were:

Dr. Johannes Bernhardt, Digital Manager at the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (Baden State Museum Karlsruhe), led the project Creative Collections at the intersection of digitality and participation. At the moment he is busy with the possibilities of artificial intelligence in cultural institutions and approaches to the development of the Digital Museum.

Tino Kreßner, co-founder of the crowdfunding platform Startnext.com, is a founding member of the German Social Entrepreneurship Network for the strengthening of social enterprises.

Simone Orgel, renowned expert for digital policy communication and digital strategies, Head of Community Society Policy at Wikimedia Germany. Previously, she was responsible for re:publica as Head of Projects & International Relations and lecturer at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). 

The scholarships include financial support for living expenses over a period of three months and also allow for participation in a series of coaching sessions, some of which are standardised and some tailored to project development. The latter serve to provide the scholarship holders with additional skills and competencies to advance their projects.

Funded in the Cultural Digital program of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes. Funded by Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media.