L as in Long Time (though semi-long would also do for the time being)

The one thing I have been missing for months (together with having more text online, please, please, please) was the feeling of having a clear plan. The more I have to present myself with a vision, the less I feel like I have one. Being now under no duty whatsoever (except the one to get ready to teach the Vorlesung “Schriftsteller_innen und ihre Verleger_innen” from April 2014 on), I feel like *the inner plan* is moving me again – carrying me would be more like it. The problem is, the plan lacks the right conditions for its realization.

What should happen with the edition? Obviously, the part where I need to fight to get more text online seems to be on the path of resolution. After that, collation. After that, network visualization. At which point (in a year or a year and a half), the tagging should have evolved, been precised, and stabilized. Then we should able to aggregate other editions and work with quantitative tools (still fairly blurry right now, but I am confident that having a husband specialized in machine learning will pay off at some point – like this one for instance). These different steps will easily fill the 2 years left for the project, especially if I have to keep looking out for additional funding as I have been for the last 2 years.

This supposes that the whole installation survives two years, and survives over these two years. For the time being, if a hammer lands on the server for some reason (or if a train full of pure oil explodes between Friedrichstrasse and Hackescher Markt), we are basically doomed. We have no MoU that guarantees anything, just computer space. I am beginning to get really nervous about that.

You might argue that things were not different a year or so ago, but when I see the speed at which the edition will increase its volume in the months ahead, I am afraid I might not be able to have all my head as I have had until now. This is one point.

The other point that makes the archiving question complicated is the fact that the edition itself is now connected to a repository (the Boeckh platform, accessible online with password until August, then accessible online without a password – if you want the password, let me know!). What we need is archiving the XML files, the perl files, the html files of the edition as well of the repository, which are two different types of structures. And as you know, it is never really only about archiving. It is about long time accessibility, long time readability. I am at a loss for an institution that would be able to tell me: it will cost you that much to guarantee that much of data maintenance for that long a time.

Right now, it seems to me that I need a clear vision on that level in order to be able to proceed with the whole rest. If I don’t, I will remain some kind of fraud (like I feel now), building shiny castles that are actually made of sand.


Anne Baillot

I studied German Studies and Philosophy in Paris where I got my PhD in 2002. I then moved to Berlin, where I have been living & doing research ever since. My areas of specialty include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history. I am currently working at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin as an expert in digital technologies for the humanities.

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