TEI Conference (virtually)

While sitting at Dr Is In today waiting for walk-ins and trying to complete some long-overdue blog posts (yes InĂ©s, soon…real soon now…) I decided to “attend” the Text Encoding Initiative’s annual conference, held this year in Illinois. This has always been a favorite conference and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. Well, OK, I was really just attending the Twitter back channel. Nevertheless several fascinating tidbits emerged.

1) While anyone who has used the TEI guidelines to encode texts over the last 20 years can appreciate the depth of work, the range of ideas, and the absolute utility of this ongoing project, it cannot be denied that it’s sheer mass can be daunting. Add to that the fact that it is not always easy to get from “A”–texts that people have encoded–to “B”–displaying those texts in some way, either online or in print or in some form of ebook. Addressing this gap is a group working on something named TEI Simple. It has always been possible, in fact it is encouraged, to create your own custom subset of TEI elements. However, for those starting out it is difficult to choose from the vast array. Past attempts to provide a limited template of TEI elements have led to TEI Lite and the even more reduced set TEI Boilerplate. Both these sets are useful; both usually generate the question “but what if I want to also use element X which is not represented here. TEI Simple takes a different approach. It will contain elements that cover modern print books (as opposed to the full TEI which covers manuscripts and incunabula, etc. It looks like it will also contain the XSL files needed to more easily transform the encoded texts to web pages. According to their web site: “TEI Simple aims to define a new highly-constrained and prescriptive subset of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines suited to the representation of early modern and modern books, a formally-defined set of processing rules which permit modern web applications to easily present and analyze the encoded texts, mapping to other ontologies, and processes to describe the encoding status and richness of a TEI digital text.”

2) Meanwhile, TEI projects continue to be built. This one “Juxtapositions of Place in Thalaba the Destroyer” seeks to build “an “anti-social” network analysis experiment with Robert Southey’s 1801 edition of Thalaba the Destroyer, a long epic or romance (or epical romance) poem in 12 books…Southey’s epical poems tend to be heavily annotated with prose footnotes, and the 1801 edition of Thalaba is especially striking for the lengthiness of its notes and their positioning beneath the text of the stanza in which they are signaled. Sometimes these notes take up well over half of the page in the printed text! TEI encoding positions the annotations inline at the point at which they are signalled, and thus my TEI reading view of Thalaba hosted by the TAPAS project in some way reproduces the immediate presence of the notes in their sometimes dialogic, sometimes ironic, and typically comparative interaction with the main text of the poem. TEI markup goes still further in helping us to chart the relationships Southey generates between text and note. Southey’s references to places and cultures around the world are a key feature of his writings, but are not easy for us to study without the assistance of computer processing. The network analysis experiment I document on these pages provides a way to visualize how Southey plotted mythical and geographical locations in his poem, to help illuminate his juxtapositioning of world cultures through the textual machinery of this ornate poem.” http://ebeshero.github.io/thalaba/

The network analysis work is lovely but I’m just happy to see another way of representing annotations in a fairly easy way since this is something I want to help J Bailly do with a text he and his students have been encoding.

That will have to do for now. I’ll have to mine the tweets at http://teiconf2014.tweetwally.com/

and check out the abstracts at http://tei.northwestern.edu/



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