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I think the TEI (or a similar organization) could help with the
political situation Martin describes by moving the development away
from any one institution so it doesn't look like developers are asking
their bosses to do someone else's work.  At many institutions, I
suspect telling one's supervisor, "I want to go work on this project
the University of Victoria is running" would be less well received
than "I want to make my own, shiny new project because all the other
ones stink!"  Certainly it's easier to get grants with that sort of
rhetoric.

But what if the ownership of tool projects was maintained in a
trans-institutional space like the TEI.  Institutions could apply for
grants to work on important work packages for the tool, but ownership
would be communal rather than one lead institution and lots of
tag-alongs.  Right now, I think the TEI represents the best example of
something like this in DH.  It's owned by no one & everyone.

As an experiment, I've created a sharable Google doc with a list of a
couple of broadly useful tools I'd like to see developed.

You can add to it or sign up to lead development here:

http://is.gd/aQkKAD

If we get a full list, maybe we can hold a virtual meeting of
interested parties to see what we should do next.

Doug


On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 12:38 PM, Martin Holmes <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 11-08-24 09:17 AM, Doug Reside wrote:
>>
>> Hmmm...in some ways I think money might get in the way, as it often
>> limits institutional and personal commitment to only what was paid
>> for.  What I'm proposing is an open source development effort on
>> mutually beneficial tools.  Many projects/scholars need a page
>> turner/XML editor/variorum-edition-viewer but most develop these
>> independently.  What if the TEI used what limited funds and political
>> capital it has to organize and direct development efforts where the
>> only payment is that you're building something you need anyway.
>
> I wasn't talking only about money; I was talking mainly about time. Here's a
> concrete example:
>
> Some years ago I wrote, as part of my job, on UVic time, the Image Markup
> Tool version 1. It's a pure TEI tool designed to help mark up images in TEI.
> I now have a plan for version 2 of that tool, and I've set up the project
> (C++, cross-platform, open-source), and even written some code, but a recent
> attempt to get support from my institution for my spending time on the
> project completely failed. In order to get permission to spend time working
> on a project, I need to have it sponsored by a faculty member as part of a
> project they're doing; and nobody is willing or able to do this. Nowadays,
> there appears to be mechanism by which my university can say to me "This is
> a good idea and broadly useful for many people both here and elsewhere, so
> spend time on it." So the project will languish, as I can only work on it in
> my spare time, and I hardly have any of that at the moment.
>
> This is a relatively new situation. Up to about three years ago, we had
> substantial institutional support for generic tool-building, and created
> many broadly-useful tools as a result. I think the change is partly due to
> financial constraints, and the desire to quantify and control what we do,
> and demonstrate its immediate value to the home institution. There are lots
> of good reasons for that, but it's undeniably dispiriting for people who
> want to develop generic tools.
>
> I take your point about the TEI taking a stronger role in organizing and
> encouraging tool development, but I think it's generally the case that the
> most successful open-source projects are those which have a single leader,
> or a very small cadre of leaders, who are passionately involved over a long
> period of time. I don't know if organizational support from TEI would help
> or hinder that.
>
> Cheers,
> Martin
>
>>
>> Doug
>>
>> On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM, Sebastian Rahtz
>> <[log in to unmask]>  wrote:
>>>
>>> On 24 Aug 2011, at 16:26, Martin Holmes wrote:
>>>
>>>>>  What if the TEI now devoted its energies and financial resources to
>>>>> sponsoring community open source tool building efforts.
>>>>
>>>> I would really welcome this. It's remarkably difficult to get
>>>> institutional support for generic tool-building these days; everything
>>>> has to be tied to a specific project, or a specific grant, with no
>>>> prospect of realistic broader application and no hope of continued
>>>> development and support.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I would observe that there _is_ loads of tool development
>>> for doing stuff with TEI. Good work from, eg, Textgrid people,
>>> and the things around publishing in France.
>>>
>>> But remember that this is chicken and egg stuff. We came into this
>>> discussion
>>> with the observation that TEIC has badly falling income. Yes, it would
>>> be great if it "sponsored" open source tools, but there is no serious
>>> cash in the kitty to _pay_ people to work on them. So we'd still
>>> be expecting institutions to pay the programmer salary.
>>>
>>> If Mr Mellon or Mr Google would grant the TEI $100k a year
>>> to commission small-scale tool development, I think we'd
>>> find ways to spend that wisely. But  "if only I had
>>> a rich uncle"  cuts no ice. There is money out there,
>>> but it needs commitment and hard graft to get it.
>>> --
>>> Sebastian Rahtz
>>> Head of Information and Support Group
>>> Oxford University Computing Services
>>> 13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN. Phone +44 1865 283431
>>>
>>> Sólo le pido a Dios
>>> que el futuro no me sea indiferente
>>>
>>
>
> --
> Martin Holmes
> University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre
> ([log in to unmask])
>