The answer to this dichotomy is, as always, somewhere in between these 
two extremes (markup-as-free-art-form and 
markup-as-bare-minimum-interoperability). And I think the strength of 
the TEI as designed is that it strikes a very good balance between the 
two, most of the time.

I think most projects that use TEI responsibly, and with an eye on the 
good practice guides and guidelines, create documents that are 
interchangeable to a basic level that I think satisfies Marjorie's and 
Google's desire for big data. (Within subsets of the TEI, such as the 
EpiDoc, there are large bodies of data with even more interchangeability 
than that.)

But on top of this basic level of markup, there are many projects, some 
but by no means all incompatible with one another, that include much 
deeper and more expressive markup, encoding the theory of text, as 
Martin says, and beautifully constructed as John says, none of which 
makes the XML document any less interchangeable than those with only the 
bare minimum of markup.

So long as we continue to push for best practice and keep the 
possibilities for wild variance down to those places where they are (a) 
really needed for full expressiveness, and (b) don't change the expected 
meaning of basic concepts like paragraphs and names and object 
descriptions, then I think we can have our cake and eat it too.


On 2011-08-22 15:54, Marjorie Burghart wrote:
> Le 22/08/2011 15:35, John A. Walsh a écrit :
>> Rather than have at my disposal millions of homogenous and
>> interoperable TEI texts provided by Google or whomever, I would prefer
>> to make my way through a smaller number of meticulously encoded texts,
>> where the mind of the scholar(s)/editors(s) is present in the
>> encoding, along with ingenious and clever encoding strategies that
>> suggest important critical insights about the texts. This is the
>> nanotechnolgoy of digital humanities.
> Assuming that you're in earnest here (apologies if I misunderstood you),
> I would like to seize this opportunity to voice some of my concerns.
> I for one, would rather have at my disposal millions of basically
> encoded texts, rather than a small number of extremely thoughtfully
> encoded texts.
> And I really believe that thinking of encoding as an art form, and not a
> tool, is one of the problems of the TEI community.
> Let's face it once and for all: there is nothing - /nothing /-  one can
> make apparent through encoding as an editor, that could not be made just
> as apparent, and maybe more intelligibly so, by a full-text introduction
> to an edition. The natural medium of Humanities research is text, not
> encoding. So to me, the more important part is not to represent a
> textual phenomenon to render account of it, but to be able to process it
> in some way or another. And most of all, to be able to have it processed
> with a bunch of other texts encoded by others, or I wouldn't bother with
> using the TEI in the first place.
> Best wishes,
> Marjorie
> --
> Marjorie BURGHART
> EHESS (pôle de Lyon) / UMR 5648
> Histoire et Archéologie des Mondes Chrétiens et Musulmans Médiévaux
> 18 quai Claude Bernard
> 69007 Lyon - FRANCE

Dr Gabriel BODARD
(Research Associate in Digital Epigraphy)

Department of Digital Humanities
King's College London
26-29 Drury Lane
London WC2B 5RL

Email: [log in to unmask]
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1388
Fax: +44 (0)20 7848 2980