Print

Print


Hello all,

I could not agree more with Martin's suggestion of making the TEI process as
transparent as possible. I also think this discussion also raises a fundamental
issue about the emergence of digital humanities projects in general, which is
that the interdisciplinarity (i.e. computer programming and literary studies,
for example) required *for* such projects is still not something that
specialists can broach easily. Furthermore, the inevitable employment of
graduate students (or volunteers, as has been mentioned elsewhere in the thread)
to mark up literary texts means we are making huge leaps of faith that the
instruction we get during the project will be "good enough" and meet TEI standards.

My own experience as a graduate English student hired to do mark up was that my
colleagues and employers for the project were extremely supportive and lenient
about my initial techno-ignorance. And, even so, over the course of one year of
marking up pages and pages of transcribed text, I still came away not completely
undrstanding what it was that I was doing. Now that I am studying Information
Studies, I am only just unpacking some of the mysteries that drove decisions I
was making or instructed to make (never mind the flock of acronyms!). 

The fact that my mark up is now under critical review by TEI specialists does
not bother me personally--I know what my limits were--but the time consumption
of that process having to happen at all is unsettling. The digital humanities
projects I have been watching emerge, whether they be complex or a simple e-text
production, are time consuming in their very nature but are also slowed by the
integration of skill-sets that may be completely foreign to some of the team
members. The more transparent the process, as Martin suggests with exposing the
XML, and the more integrated education that is available (courses that deal with
electronic publication issues, writing hypertext, humanities computing in
general, and so on) the faster team members will be able to latch on to what is
"good enough" and participate in producing cutting edge and integral digital
resources while the idea is still hot. 

I am belabouring the point, but it seems to me that in a time when humanities
funding is becoming harder to extract, and because technological projects add
sparkle to those funding proposals, it makes sense to be encouraging the kind of
interdisciplinary, infrastructural support that makes the projects more salient
and their process comprehensible for everyone involved. 

After much lurking,
Jess

Jessica A. Posgate
MISt. Candidate
Faculty of Information Studies
University of Toronto