Seeing the edition with new eyes

The room was full, it was dark outside, the light went down and the show began!

The presentation itself really was a moment of joy for me, seeing things take shape that we had been working on so hard for a year and half. Every one of the 6 speakers (including me) had about 10 minutes to present his or her part. It was not possible to talk about everything and we focussed mainly on the literary aspects. I retrospectively regretted not talking about all the history of science-part and not mentioning such heavy problems as long time archiving. But we were not there to complain, so it was probably better that way. And the students’ presentations (Janine Katins and Johanna Preusse) were so good that it would have been a pity not to let them present their work at length just for the sake of trying to talk about each and every aspect.

There was no questions session after the presentation. I was dreading a mix of literary and technical questions that would inevitably be boring for one half of the audience or the other. The discussion took place in little groups, half in the room, half by the drinks table outside the room.I think every found whom they wanted to talk to – the TELOTA team talking to Alex, the professors talking to the students…

Many of those who came to me said they now see our digital edition with new eyes. I was at a loss. For me, what we had done was the exact opposite of that: not shedding a new light on it, but shedding its true light on it. I was so busy processing this information that I completely forgot to ask for explanations. Anna thinks that these commentaires mean that our edition is not self-explaning, which was what we had been wanting to do. This is probably one thing we will have to consider indeed.

I keep hoping though that it is not just that. Maybe it is the way we connect the literary interpretation to the digital edition that was not necessarily obvious. We who produce the edition do not only produce it for our readers or in order to reach a great text mass that the computers shall some day be able to analyze by themselves, we also learn and interpret extremely fine literary phenomens. Decoding the manuscript and re-encoding it in XML/TEI is interpretation, maybe that was the novelty of it.


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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