Finding the way to the archive

Preparing my stay at the Literature Archive in Marbach, spending the week there working off mountains of information and then, when I came back. taking care of all that had remained pending didn’t stay clean of collateral damages. I haven’t blogged in a month: it is a shame, really. To make things worse, this infidelity to my blog happens precisely when I am trying to get more active within the editorial board of hypotheses and when I am organizing my first hypotheses workshop. I am not sure about the credibility I will bring to the workshop. “Hello, youngsters, let me give you the right recipe: blogging 6 times a month is a good average”. And then I will proceed explaining it is totally doable. Or so I intended to say a month or so ago – I might consider revising that part of my introduction…

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Seldom (maybe never) has it felt such a relief to open as it is tonight. Weeks of forced blogging abstinence, rushing ahead without looking left and right, with the edition seemingly stuck in its rachitic state. But victory, victory at last! We are moving on! What a relief –

I have been obsessed by the single aim to get more text online for months and trying to move mountains to reach that goal – with little success at first. It seems that the fruits of those efforts will finally be harvestable in the days ahead:

– the transcriptions of all letters from Tieck to Raumer already online have been reviewed by Henrike Both; Johanna is now feeding them in the XML files, adding missing xml:ids and enriching the comments (the following letters awaiting her then – she is so good at reading and commenting Tieck and in encoding in general that I think, with the two of us, we will wrap up the corpus before the end of the year) – link to the corpus here!

– Sabine has been actively encoding Boeckh’s reports on the philological seminar and we received yesterday the authorization to publish (online and in print) the scans of the original documents from the University Archive – a first ever. The link to the corpus is here (the scans should be online on Monday)! The director of the Historical Collections of the Grimm-Zentrum is to be thanked greatly for scanning the documents and making this publication possible.

– Julia has almost reached entry 2 000 of Boeckh’s book catalogue (which counts a little less than  6 000 on the whole). This is still not online since the visualization involves a direct link to the work index which requires some tuning, but Alex and I settled on a reasonable solution this morning, and it should be online before the end of the month. I will certainly let you know about it!

– Sophia is almost done preparing the Voß-Solger letters (a print version) and especially the commentary. As soon as this is done (only a few more days), she will get back to unifying some 15 Chamisso letters that are on our internal platform, waiting to be polished. Those should be published in the course of summer.

– Selma has encoded her reference text by Helmina von Chézy (an open letter / fictional text addressed to Bettina von Arnim). This should be online in a month or so.

– Alex and I agreed today on activating the pdf button of the edition by Mid-September. The pdf conversions already works pretty well for letters as it is, but need some re-working to be reasonably clean when applied to the other types of manuscripts we have. Roxane, being the only drama (and the only manuscript with comparatively short lines), always requires specific attention. And will get it for the pdf function as well.

Which means that we will be able to work on the collation from the fall on (sooo looking forward to developing something new!!!), with 2 out of the 3 due volumes in print (one is Voss, in German, and the other one is the “figures of the intellectual”, in French – I had rather not think about who is going to take care of the Solger volume right now, but I see it coming that I will have to pay someone to do the copy editing and translating in order to preserve the time I want to dedicate mainly to writing, e.g. August-October and December-February).

You can count on me to tell you more on the workshop DH Kompetenzzentren and on the Manifesto for young researchers in DH soon, since I spent most of June preparing both. See you soon!

People who like seeing mice in the subway

Since I have been fairly untrue to this blog over the past week(s), I took a quick look at the keywords that drive most readers here. The quick look turned out to be edifying. “Interesting blogs on digital edition” is the first hit (thank you!), followed by “lettres de paris dans les annees 1800” (don’t have any), “caroline von humboldt prize” (which I received 3 years ago), “facts on intellectuals 1800” (that, we have plenty of), “18th century german script” (probably the most stable hit along time), then “sophia zeil” (new on my team, more info on her here), and I give you the next one: “people who like seeing mice in the subway”.

I really do like observing mice in the subway. Yesterday, I saw one with incredibly dark hair while I was waiting for the U7 at Yorckstrasse. More importantly, I don’t deny that the blog post “N.N.(mouse over) (on the subway tracks)” was worth reading. It dealt with a question still unsolved, the short IP of my edition – should it be called just “”? “berlinerintellekuelle”, just “intellectuals”? I have postponed answering it as long as I don’t have a solution to the long time archiving /accessibility of the edition. This worry is growing bigger along time, for two reasons. First, I don’t know what my affiliation will be in 2, 4, 6 years, and I would like to find a stable hosting solution that guarantees not only that my data stay safe, but also that we will  still be able to display them in 2, 4, 6 – even 12 years. I am considering migrating to the TextGrid Repository to that end. The other reason why the topic is getting hotter is that there have now been 3, 4 persons considering more or less seriously to publish the unedited material they work on in my edition. I can to some extent risk working in a only half stable environment when it is all my responsibility and my team providing for content, but I can’t afford (at least according to my personal work ethics) leaving anything in the blur when it comes to hosting somebody else’s work.

As hot as the topic is, I have not had so much time to deal with it seriously. These have been busy, busy days. Last week, I attended a TextGrid meeting at the MPIWG and this week, I co-organized a workshop at the Centre Marc Bloch (I blogged about it in French, see post 1 and post 2, and if you really want to know what happened, check the hashtag #dhcmb on twitter – my prezi is available as well). We had Wikipedian Marcus Cyron come to the class and talk with us (I will eventually blog about it there). I have had money awarded by the Faculty to go on with the Boeckh project: we can now think about a workflow allowing us to enrich kalliope data and feed it in our platform as well as in kalliope.  We will finally get online with the new layout (hopefully at the beginning of May – the titles look fine now :-)) and Alex has already sent us the info so that we can reshape our headers according to the new architecture, which has new entries for each file  (“type of text” and “topic”) that we had not encoded before.

And the 2 DH-related workshops I am working on are beginning to look good as well. Sophia has prepared a first of the flyer for June, 28th – I will post it as soon as the whole DH-Berlin-circle has agreed on that. Technique and catering are completely organized, I still have to send some invitations for chairing, etc., but our guest speakers are in already. Soon, it will only be about the fun part – exchanging ideas, learning, putting things in perspective. In perspective and on paper, too, as we (the organizers) have planned to meet on the day after the workshop in order to write the results down.

As for the Digital Letter Edition workshop of May 2014, I have finally managed to begin re-writing the accompanying paper with the big ideas and questions., so that I hope to be able to send the last invitations soon.

No time for encoding, but there are only that many fronts I can be active on in parallel…


Being a team again (a 1000-piece-puzzle)

Not only summer has replaced winter within 24 hours, but we are operational again, we as a team. The last position (contract for a student as a studentische Hilfskraft) that was vacant since Maike changed universities is now filled with Sophia Zeil. Which makes us – still – a bunch of girls, but with an amazing encoding task force. Sabine and Julia are taking care of the Boeckh project. Sophia is helping Sabine and Anna out with the Chamisso corpus as well. Besides being our drama encoding specialist, Johanna is getting better every day at commenting Tieck’s letters and will transcribe and encode those that are still missing together with me. Even Selma is beginning – as I write this – to encode her Helmina von Chézy text. Corpus! Corpus! If I were not held up by my daily business and the 2 volumes I have to finish until July, I would be encoding much more actively myself as well. But an end to those 2 books (at least to one of them) is in sight.

Of course, I was worried that the group would turn from a genuinely literary project with a slight historical touch to a sheer editorial enterprise, albeit a digital one. During the first two years of the project, we have been developing the different focuses and embracing with them new scholarly domains, history of science and gender literary studies mainly. We discovered new methodological tools and concepts. I learned and learned and as I came to the point that I could add a new piece to the puzzle, the puzzle itself had turned from a 100-piece to a 200-piece one, and so forth. Now I have this huge 1000 piece-puzzle in front of me: in some spots, a shape is recognizable. In others, it is more a big whole.

The conferences we are organizing are here to fill some of these gaps or to precise some elements that are in key positions.

– The first conference will take place in November 2013 and deals with letters as a medium for generation discourses around 1800.

– The second conference – partly more of a workshop, really – will take place in May 2014 and deal with digital editions of letters. I will write more about it soon as I intend to wrap up the call for proposal and send most of the invitations by the end of this week. The title so far: “Digitale Briefeditionen und ihre interpretatorische Leistung. Ontologien, Textgenetik und Visualisierungsstrategien”. A poem in itself, isn’t it?

– But before all of those, and on a completely different register, I am preparing the workshop on DH competence centers in Germany (taking place on June 28th) together with the whole DH-Berlin gang. We are meeting on Friday to define the precise questions we want to address. You can also expect a follow-up on that…

Somehow, now that we are a team again, I only see the fun in all the things I will be able to learn from those conferences/workshops. I almost forget all the organizing pain, thinking only of the puzzle corners that will get filled.