Dear Fabio and TEI-list,
As a project director about to face the problem of representing two halves of letters whose fragments turned up in archives in Old England and New England, I have been following this discussion with interest. I am curious about how much we need to be concerned about the curation practices of catalogers, when such practices are often fraught with errors, and when our own digital surrogates might offer a more refined system of organizing information about texts. Does the pseudo-holistic nature of the library cataloger's import/export technology determine how we represent parts vs. wholes? Or should we consider our own digital databases in TEI to supersede the catalogue technology, which is likely to be changeable and correctible?
I would like to know more about how communities of ms catalogers interact with the TEI, and how adaptable their systems are to the (inevitable and necessary!) variation in msDesc element composition in TEI projects.
Digital Mitford: http://mitford.pitt.edu
Sent from my iPad
> On Mar 14, 2015, at 9:29 AM, Fabio Ciotti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear David and all,
>> The Old Church Slavonic Codex Suprasliensis, now in three parts in three
>> different countries, is considered a single manuscript by those who study
>> it. It may reasonably be considered three separate manuscripts by those
>> who are responsible for its cataloguing and curation. As a member of TEI
>> Council and of the msDesc working group, I was surprised by the strong
>> prejudice in favor of the curatorial perspective. I continue to be
>> surprised by how little attention there has been to the notion that the
>> manuscript as it was created may be no less important with respect to its
>> essence than its arbitrary dismemberment at a later date. I don't think of
>> the Codex Suprasliensis as a virtual manuscript that has been assembled
>> conceptually from three distinct *real* manuscripts; from my perspective,
>> as someone who studies it quite intensively, it is one real manuscript
>> that has accidentally become divided into three real manuscript
> I completely agree. What I am trying to say is this: I know that there
> are a lot of manuscripts that were once a single object and happened
> to be divided and scattered around different conservation institutions
> (and we can add here a lot of variants of this situations, as
> fragments of papyri, or broken stones with epigraphs). And I agree
> that such things have place in our more or less common ontology of
> document/text world. But my concern is how this ontology is reflected
> in TEI semiotics, that is which elements of the markup language should
> be used to represent that entities in the ontology.
> If <msDesc> is adopted to represent a manuscript description from a
> curatorial point of view, then <msPart> in that perspective means the
> part of a composite MS that I have in my shelves and that is described
> by this set of metadata. The community of ms catalogers mostly assumes
> this, and builds for instance import/export filters for their
> manuscript catalogs from/to TEI msDesc based on that assumption. I f
> we say that <msPart> could also mean a physically distinct document
> object that once was part of a single manuscript, this would go
> against that assumption. We introduce a synonimy in the markup
> language, and this can have a lot of pragmatic consequences in the
> community of encoders. I hope I have been able to let you grasp the
> sense of my position...
> That is why tend to prefer the adoption of a different element.
> Someone could argue that in XML a couple element+attribute is
> semiotically as distinct as a different element. I do not agree with
> this design of markup, but I can live with it, as you said.