4.0588 SGML: Introductions, Issues (1/20)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 15 Oct 90 20:28:24 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0588. Monday, 15 Oct 1990.

Date: 11 Oct 90 19:20:59 EDT
From: George Aichele <73760.1176@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Language Markup

Chapter 2 ( "Use of SGML Markup") of the current TEI guidelines draft
includes a fairly large section, "A Gentle Introduction to SGML." I
think this introduction could have been even gentler, but then I don't
know of anything else along these lines.

Because it tries to anticipate all possible uses of electronic texts,
SGML (or at least the TEI version) is quite cumbersome. However, the
great virtue of SGML is that it is largely hardware-independent. Not
all of us can afford (or have supplied to us!) state-of-the-art
hardware. Alternative standard markup proposals will need to recognize
how important "backward compatibility" has been at a time when a
computer "generation" lasts 5 years or less. That can be overdone, too,
of course (how many of us have hand cranks to supplement the starters on
our cars?), but if our standards require state-of-the-art software, then
the scholarly world will become even more elitist than it is now.

George Aichele