Isn’t that a bit geeky? – Yes!

Guest posting by Sabine Seifert!

After two years of dealing with digital editions and the TEI, the DH 2012 conference in Hamburg felt like a class reunion (but a good one!): A lot of my former teachers and fellow students from workshops and summer schools were there, and it was amazing to see how their projects developed or what new projects they started in the meantime. There is, for example, the Berlin-based edition of texts by Georg Greflinger that will compare different print versions and plans to work with crowd encoding. Questions of collation and crowd sourcing in our own project are still open. Of course, looking at other project’s workflows and ideas to solve problems was interesting and helpful for us.

We also had the opportunity to talk to Peter Stadler from the Weber-Gesamtausgabe about the pros and cons of embedding information from Wikipedia in a scholarly edition. The Weber-Gesamtausgabe does not link to other pages like PND, ADB and Wikipedia but rather automatically includes these information in their own webpage. This made us rethink our own indices of people, works etc. and whether it would be more efficient to cut back on filling them, import these data – if possible (like name variants, date and place of birth and death etc.), and invest more time in actually encoding our texts.

In our poster, we emphasized and contrasted the two possibilities of reading the transciption of our manuscripts: the diplomatic version and the reading version. We want to address scholarly research as well as the interested public. (And by the way, both versions are generated from the same TEI document. Thus, our encoding guidelines have to take into account both forms of editing and displaying the transcribed text.) Until now – and we are still a bit surprised – we have never fully noted that this seems to be rarely done in digital editions. None of the projects that were presented at the conference and deal with editing manuscripts/printed texts use this advantage of the digital medium in contrast to a printed edition. (Please correct me if I’m wrong and missed one – it was a BIG conference, you know.) Online-editions of letters or works like the Weber-Gesamtausgabe, the Heinrich-Heine-Portal or the Van Gogh Letters don’t seem to be interested in presenting their transcriptions in a diplomatic and in a reading version. Searching for digital editions with similar interests to our own, we came across the edition of Alfred Escher’s letters that offers an edited text (of the printed edition) as well as a diplomatic text. Of course, we are delighted by that and will definitely have a closer look!

Five days, many talks and presentations and approximately 500 cups of coffee later we headed back home with our heads filled with new ideas and concepts. We hope to see you all again – no, probably not in Nebraska next year unless there is another student bursary – but at one of the other (European) DH and TEI conferences!


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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1 Response

  1. Christian says:

    Digital ist besser, Sabine! Und Nebraska sollte man unbedingt mitnehmen; wenn der Boss schon ganze Alben nach diesem Staat benennt…

    Viel Erfolg und Freude auch weiterhin für und an eurem akademischen Blog!

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