It's interesting how these little words "interoperable" and
"interchange" arouse such passion. Let me go on record with the view
that the "I" in TEI is for "interchange" not "interoperability".
Total interoperability is I contend an ignis fatuus, a foolish goal. If
you want to be able to do on your computer exactly the same with my
document as I can do with it with the software running on my computer
you're probably going to be disappointed, until such time as we all
succumb to the lure of Mr Jobs or whichever avatar of late capitalism
replaces him. Or we have to agree to define a fairly low level of common
functionality and hobble our systems to provide only that: it's called
commodification (no you can't have flash, no you can't have a usb
interface... they'd only confuse you, trust me)
Interchange however is another matter. We do it all the time, just as we
do with natural language. Actually, natural language is not such a bad
analogy. People get by very well at international symposia using a
subset of the facilities offered by the whole glorious English language,
without losing the ability to be creative in their use of it (This
incidentally is why synthetic languages never catch on -- people need to
be able to be creative) All we need is a well defined common set of
concepts, and a (preferably fairly small) agreed set of ways of
expressing our choice amongst them. Those choices are not all going to
be the same because we all want to express our individuality, and a very
good thing too, or science would never advance.
I think the TEI is the least worst example of such a set of concepts so
far proposed. I think the technical methods it has now in place for
customisation and tailoring of that set to the needs of particular
research communities are pretty good. They could be improved, and in
particular they need to be made much more accessible and more widely
understood, but they are functionally up to the task of guaranteeing a
degree of interchangeability of digital documents which would otherwise
On 22/08/11 01:13, Doug Reside wrote:
> Patrick Durusau wrote:
>> 1a. Is the TEI about "interchange?"
>> Rather than setting users up for the disappointment of expecting to easily
>> benefit from the texts of others or to create texts that are going to be
>> snapped up by other scholars, let's be realistic about the difficulties of
>> interchange, under the best of circumstances and not make it a selling point
>> for the TEI.
> I agree that the TEI is all but useless for interoperable *anything*
> at the moment, and I likewise acknowledge that even relatively more
> interoperable markup languages such as HTML still suffer greatly from
> differing interpretations by software that either ignores the standard
> (IE) or interprets it in slightly different ways (Firefox vs Chrome).
> Still, if we give up the goal of interoperability as a central, even
> primary, goal of the TEI, then I see no reason:
> * to use it,
> * for any institution to support it, or
> * for any granting agency to recommend its use.
> Without a goal of interoperability, I might as well create my own tags
> that won't force me to spend a lot of time looking for the appropriate
> tag for the textual feature I wish to identify.
> The current lack of consistency in TEI encoding (admittedly, in part,
> the fault of editors like me as much as the standard itself) should be
> cause for sorrow leading to repentance rather than an excuse to toss
> out the goal itself. I can't imagine that most of the libraries and
> universities that support the TEI do so in the hopes of providing a
> medium for literary criticism using exceptionally clunky form of XML.
> We already have plenty of better mechanisms for this, and a commented,
> public viewable Google Doc would serve the purpose far more