Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 105.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 06:42:52 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Sometime subsequent to January and before the next January
Towards the end of January, in describing Susan Hockey's presentation of
possible applications of different tag sets, I promised a subsequent post
in regards to headers. See:
In her contribution to _The Literary Text in the Digital Age_ Susan Hockey
astutely invites us to entertain the construction of a header, the place
for holding metadata, only after having moved through a series of what may
be called abstrations from the artefact to be encoded (she moves from
transcription to analytic & interpretative information via linking,
segmentation & alignment). She, I believe, points the way to more markup
and is considerate of the burdens this might impose upon an encoder or a
team of encoders. She writes:
For many features in the header, one chooses between describing the
information inprose text and using a subset of elements that gives more
granularity to the information. The later format is more suitable for
computer processing, but users so far tended to prefer the prose format,
as it is simpler for them. Software to encourage the use of non prose
format would be helpful.
In the years since the publication of _The Literary Text in the Digital
Age_, I do recall the becoming availible of a WWW interface to a form
which helps encoders generate TEI headers. I wonder however if the state
of affairs described by Susan Hockey persits. I wonder if it is not just
software which in essence would be a prompter that is necessary but an
actual human reviewer akin to a librarian.
I'm not suggesting a tool versus human contact dichotomy. Without the
technology there can be no discourse about its appropriate appropriation.
The machine as textbook is connected in the networked universe to a
machine as communications device putting users as co-explorers in touch
with each other and with more experienced explorers.
The fundamental question may be one of the social determination of
acceptable levels of granularity. One can think of search engine displays
of keywords in context as mitigating the need for granularity. But
searching is not the only type of processing. How many encoders have asked
themselves what they want done with the texts they encode? How many have
answered that all they want is an ability to represent the texts where
"representation" is taken in its restricted sense of "render"?
Granularity it seems stems from a desire to map. Mapping deals in parts.
To anatomize may be an old word for encode. And both, I wonder, forms of
abstraction. See again:
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/ivt.htm per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality
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