Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 442. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2019-02-09 15:28:18+00:00 From: Peter Robinson
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.436: the McGann-Renear debate Thanks to a serendipitous conversation with Geoffrey Rockwell on Thursday (courtesy of an invitation to Edmonton from Dominik Wujastyk), I’m emboldened to put forward a few propositions. Geoffrey and I found ourselves discussing Turing machines, and what is meant by “Turing complete”. Which I take as meaning: a Turing complete machine can compute anything which is computable, given enough resources. So in that spirit, here is a statement about “text complete”, set out as a series of propositions: 1. All texts are real, in that each and every text is an act of communication present in a physical document 2. Therefore, every text has at least two aspects: it is an act of communication; it has physical properties in terms of the document in which it is present 3. Each aspect may be represented as a OHCO: an ordered hierarchy of content objects, a tree 4. The two trees are entirely independent of each other, and of any other tree hypothesized as present in the text A few things follow from the above 1. Renear’s second proposition, 'the objects which constitute texts are abstract, not material, objects”, is false. No text exists apart from its physical expression. 2. Documents may take almost any form, from brain synapses and neutrons, through speech, to manuscript and print book, to film. 3. Thus: an act of communication tree may be: Poem—>Canticles—>Cantos—>lines; a document tree manuscript—>quires—>folios—>leaves—>columns—>writing spaces. It is of no importance whether the trees are “in” the act of communication or “in” our own understanding of that act, or both. We can only know and speak about our own understanding. A tree structure is a useful representation of our understanding of the act of communication, and we may call forth many elements to support our own understanding: statements from the author, the physical layout of the communication in the document, and so on. We might usefully think of the structures we understand as present in the act of communication as hypotheses, which we share with others, and which are useful in manipulation (“collate all instances of stanza one in all documents”), in referencing, in anchoring common discussion. 4. We could think then of texts as a collection of leaves, with each leaf present in both trees. The relationship of the leaves to each other, in terms of order and hierarchy, are determined by each tree, in complete independence of each other. Thus: a poem might begin on page 15, be continued on page 250, and then finish on page 1. The leaves (some or all) may be present in other trees. If this is “text complete”, then all texts which ever existed or could ever exist may be representable by this model. There is more on this in some articles on my Academia site (most published elsewhere), https://usask.academia.edu/PeterRobinson: "Towards a Theory of Digital Editions”, "The Concept of the Work in the Digital Age”, "Some principles for the making of collaborative scholarly editions in digital form”. Probably the most complete, recent and accessible statement is at https://wiki.usask.ca/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=1324745355 (first given at ADHO 2018). I’ll watch the football now. Peter _______________________________________________ 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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