Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 416. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org  From: email@example.com Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.412: the McGann-Renear debate (56)  From: Gabriel Egan
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.412: the McGann-Renear debate (34) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-02-02 17:46:09+00:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.412: the McGann-Renear debate This has been one of those threads where I'm torn between responding and unsubscribing. Desmond argues (if I am understanding correctly) that since semantic markup cannot perfectly describe what's going on in a text, it's better not to do it in the text, and instead to focus on a minimalist production, with only the necessary features, which can then have different layers of annotation wrapped around it. I suspect Alex might agree with this approach. In this view, TEI/XML is fundamentally flawed because it imposes structures on the text that aren't really there, or are only there in certain interpretations or readings of the text. His interlocutors are arguing that this argument confuses format with function and that nothing stops you from doing a minimal TEI with annotations, or deriving a minimal text from a maximally marked up text. TEI is not fundamentally flawed because though it can't do everything, it can be a foundation for doing practically anything. It just gives you a language for making text models, what you say in that language is up to you. I suspect Desmond might counter that language influences cognition, and an imperfect language may steer you to think in ways that are actually pernicious. Alex's point about the "quantum" nature of text is well taken, though I think perhaps it points more at the character encoding level than the markup level. In the former, in order to represent his example, I have to decide whether the thing in question is a circle, or a Latin o, or perhaps an omicron or Cyrillic o, or something else entirely. In fact, at the markup level (in TEI at any rate), there are ways to represent this kind of uncertainty. But this leads us towards a problem: I've often heard the argument from folks who do things like machine text analysis that TEI is too messy a format for them. And indeed it often is. You can't just derive a token stream from many TEI documents without first making informed decisions about how to get at that stream -- normalized or original text? Base text or particular readings? But here is, I think, where the crux lies: TEI says, if you will, "this whole digital artifact is the edition, my (the editor/encoder)'s argument about the text. The annotators say, "here is the text, and there are my arguments about it. You can easily have one without the other." But can you separate the argument about the text from the text itself? My own answer to this question is a resounding NO. But maybe that comes from my perspective as someone who works a lot with messy and difficult edge case texts. Likely in many cases it doesn't really matter. In my view the splitting of text from argument (or even the idea that you should) pushes you towards error in the same sorts of ways Desmond believes hierarchy pushes you towards error. Who's right? I dunno. Perhaps we just have to be aware that our tools and formats all have their benefits and risks and we have to make decisions in the light of that awareness. My plea would be for more open collaboration and constructive criticism and less "You're doing it wrong!" Al the best, Hugh PS I really like Herbert's suggestion of a TEI Guidelines "Dirty Tricks" chapter. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-02-02 10:12:06+00:00 From: Gabriel Egan Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.412: the McGann-Renear debate Dear HUMANISTs I asserted that in early modern drama, "All the dialogue lines occur inside speeches, all the speeches occur inside scenes, and all the scenes occur inside acts, and there are exactly five acts". Desmond Schmidt responded: > Well, that's your analysis. Another way to analyse > it is to say that the headings for scenes and acts > are simply in italics or a big font. But as I pointed out, the creators of early modern drama repeatedly described their work the way I've described it, as a tree, and never once (in the materials I'm aware of) described it in terms of the typographical representations of the units' headings. Are you saying that it doesn't matter how the creators thought of their work? > In any case your example is not perfect: sometimes > speeches are inside lines and sometimes lines are > inside speeches. How do you explain that? I believe the claim that "sometimes speeches are inside lines" to be untrue. Can you give us an example? Regards Gabriel Egan _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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