Hybridation Means

Although I had carefully avoided to confront myself with the question of how the digital version of our edition of Boeckh’s Encyklopädie (see here for more detail on that) was supposed to compare to the print version, I was compelled to do so this afternoon under the pressure of my co-grant applicants.

The fashionable way to edit is definitely to have both a digital and a print version: an hybrid edition. But even that leaves a wide range of options. One way is to have a book version shorter than the digital version is. Another way is to have a digital and a print version based on an identical source. In both cases, the decision concerns the text as well as the apparatus. Even if you replace the digital links with URLs that are written out, it is a major editorial decision to choose for instance to have a unique source for both versions, since such a scenario supposes that both the paper and the digital version rely and depend on one another. The whole conception has to systematically embrace both aspects.

So far, I thought it would make more sense to conceive differently the digital and the paper version. This is probably due to the fact that I did not consider actually making books out of what I edit digitally. The Encyklopädie, but also other corpora in our digital edition that are more likely to be considered readable (vs. the “searchable-only” corpora I edit myself and favor because they are so cool for network research, but that’s another subject), made Alex put the question of pdfs on the agenda of our next Digital Edition-meeting. I am curious to hear how this is supposed to work. With 6 different views of one document, which one is supposed to be turned into a pdf? The reading version, because the pdf is there to be read (vs. searched)? Or is the pdf of interest as a sum of information, regrouping all that you can get on one single document?

This question is relevant for the way we will conceive the print version of the Encyklopädie. If it is possible for instance to generate pdfs on the fly representing whichever version you like better (all text layers before 1811, only the text layer 1811, the original text of 1809,…), I don’t think we should trouble ourselves too much with a print version that should achieve what the digital edition is there for, e.g. representing the text layers (to be precise, the digital version is also there to compare the versions and to realize complex searches, which the print version will not be able to supply us with whatsoever).

We agreed this afternoon on a form of the print version that would basically use a double page to reproduce one manuscript page: 1809 text layer on the left side, each line being numbered, and on the right handside, all the ulterior text layers with a short description of where they are to be found on the manuscript page, peculiarities of ink and paper, datation of said layers – and at the bottom of all that, the minimalistic commentaries. In case that all the apparatus should not fit on one page, we would have to continue on the following page, e.g. on the following two pages in order to be able to get back to our left-right situation for the next manuscript page. I will have to make an exact calculation, but I don’t think this would be realizable on the scale of the whole Encyklopädie in less than 3 big books.

We will see on the next meeting if pdfs as Alex suggests to implement them actually are good hybridation means. And I am still  looking for arguments and examples pro and contra same source vs. not same source for digital and print version in order to make up my mind on that…


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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