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Dear All,
Slightly late, but I feel I have to intervene here.
I support this move of getting finally to provide guidance on the encoding of virtual manuscripts, which is to say, move form the cataloguing perspective into a scholarship one: this is a discussion we had many times in the past and I always found it weird that something like the Codex Sinaiticus could not have been described as a single item.

As for <msPart>/<msXX> I think that while both approaches have pros and cons, I don't see a very strong argument against broadening the scope of <msPart>: since it can contain an <msIdentifier> it is quite neat to add a <repository> element in there that specify where that part is and in a sense distinguishing well this case from the case of a miscellaneous manuscript within the same repository.
Once said this, I will be almost equally happy with a brand new element.
Elena


On 14 Mar 2015, at 19:00, Elisa wrote:

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.

Best,
Elisa
--
Elisa Beshero-Bondar
Digital Mitford: http://mitford.pitt.edu

Sent from my iPad

On Mar 14, 2015, at 9:29 AM, Fabio Ciotti <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[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
*fragments*.

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.

Fabio

--
Elena Pierazzo
Visiting Senior Research Fellow
King's College London
Department of Digital Humanities
King's College London
26-29 Drury Lane
London
WC2B 5RL

Professor of Italian Studies and Digital Humanities
Bureau F307
Université de Grenoble 3 'Stendhal'
BP 25 38040 Grenoble Cedex 9
Tel. +33 4 76828032