So here goes, heading beack home (and already dreading the trip with the Deutsche Bahn)!
What I will remember of my first TEI conference:
1) Big projects and small projects do not really have the same workflow problems but in the end, we all end up trying to figure out a way to use the TEI-P5 guidelines without increasing their volume too much by adding this and that proposal for a complement because what we actually need is not described there yet. Which leads me back to the questions of what standards are actually there for. I can’t think of a definite answer to that. Do we need a communication basis or a completely unified system? The irritating part is of course that the guidelines will give you 3 ways to encode one thing and none to encode another and you have to make the best ot of that situation for your project.
2) Long time archiving is a problem for everybody. I suspected that before and I think that considering it is a general problem, it should not be the job of the project managers to find their own little solution, but a problem for larger infrastructures like DARIAH in Europe to take care of.
3) There are so many cool problems connected to encoding. As a project manager, I am very busy keeping everything working at all and do not really have time to think profoundly about the hermeneutical implications of each and every decision we make but somehow it still has to do with what the early 20th century scholars did when setting standards for critical editions. We are in the process of redefining philology – the problem is, we are so in it that it is difficult to reflect it. But if anything, that would be the one theoretical question that would interest me right now.
4) The <note> element is really a problem, not just for us. I will post on that later and I promise to do so on the Special Interest Group Manuscript list as well.
5) Posters are a cool way to get to present your project in a way that the person you are talking to gets the information he/she really wants. We should have more of those non-authoritative kind of scholarly communication in the traditional humanities. But it still is a challenge to stand next to James Cummings!
6) Würzburg reminds me too much of the city I grew up and got endlessly bored in as a teenager. I want to get back to Berlin!
(This is the 1-minute epos I presented in the poster/poetry slam preceding the poster session at the TEI conference in Würzburg)
Working in such caves they call archives.
A good fairy came along and said, through his beard,
Come, miladies and hear the tale of the TEI,
Alas! We followed the siren’s voice
And not only digitized letters
But could also make the choice
What could cure our distress?
Not even the poor students
That we taught at great expense
Of time, ’cause peekaboo:
See, they are infected too,
The disease has spread all over!
Come to our poster!!
It seems to me that the different projects presented so far each try to deal in their different way with the dilemma of simplicity vs. complexity. The paper of Bertrand Francois Gaiffe and Béatrice Stumpf, mostly a technical one, showed the difficulty of trying to on the one hand simplify the TEI part (using TEI-tite) and on the other hand enriching it with the tools they need.
The last paper of the section was given by Matteo Romanello and Aurélien Berra. They presented an ongoing edition project of Athenaeus as the meeting of a Digital Humanist and a Classics scholar, starting by quoting Gregory Crane. The text itself is a compilation and the quoting system was a great incentive to make it a digital edition. The editors are – suitingly – using a wide range of quotation forms (<q>, <quote>, <cit>, <mentioned>, and several others). The complexity connected with the genre of the fragment, though abismal, was presented very clearly (somehow I tend to consider that people who are able to explain the problems clearly are not that far away from the solution).
Even they are not moving withing the limits of the TEI, asking for their project “what TEI should be combined with to create not only an edition but a complex virtual editing environment”. They mentioned the Homer Multitext Project and went in more detail into the CTS procotol, which they use and intend to “go beyond”. A beautiful project still waiting for a funding to make it real.
Here are links to digital editions that were mentioned in the course of the day:
Klagenfurt edition of the works of Robert Musil
Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) – in the Chinese Buddhist version!
Letters of Van Gogh (ah, the Van Gogh letters!)
Mark Twain Project (Autobiography of Mark Twain)
Henrik Ibsen’s Writings (Maximum Edition online, Minimum available in print)
Edition project of the Works of Thomas Le Roy (still virtual, presented here)
Digital Edition of Slowenian Literature
The Homer Multitext Project
And I came accross the Catalog of the Scholarly Digital Editions while browsing.
The presentation of Marie Bisson’s project of a Digital Edition of works by Thomas Le Roy was interesting to me especially because it is still pretty virtual – just like our project, still ringing with several layers of technicalities before you can really say what it is going to look like. But the added value of comparing 3 versions of not so identical texts seems to appeal to the more experienced colleagues in the room.
I could see that Marie Bisson chose to have the values of her tags in French. We decided to switch from German to English in our own tagging at a pretty early stage for reasons of readability of the xml-file. I will have to ask Marie Bisson why she kept the French…(the only presentation of the project you can find only is also in French)
And now to Faust: a titanic project at last!!
The first paper by Gerrit Brüning and Katrin Henzel presented the multiple encoding of the same information as 2 sides of the same medal. In this huge genetic edition, textual and documentary transcript are kept in different files containing different markups (markup rules are documented on a wikipage). In order to synchronize contents, an algorithm was developed to ensure automatic collation. Gregor Middell and Moritz Wissenbach then went into the technicalities. Looks like the Faust editors do not only know some mephistophelian tricks, but also Chapter 20 of the Guidelines almost by heart.
It is impressive how the several work steps are being identified to reach the publishing objectives. Obviously, as the speakers mentioned, it is NOT something you can try at home by yourself but need some serious institutional backup to realize.
During the discussion, Werner Wegstein asked an interesting question (at least interesting for us) about the different scripts (ha!) but I was pretty disappointed by the complicated answer (still no clear solution for us in sight…)