TEI and {Wikisource} / Doubt and Imperfection

TEI and WikiSource

Taking on the responsibility of a work through TEI markup is daunting because a detailed markup can yield so much information about a text and a basic markup proves, largely, irresponsible.

Wikisource Proofread

It was odd using TEI Markup language to reinterpret the English language.  Firstly, I was learning a new language.  That was humbling.  Here I am, an English student and would-be writer attempting to do all I can to improve my manipulation of the English language and suddenly another language is required of me?  My immediate response: I am too old for this!  But of course this is completely untrue.  What really helped with learning TEI Markup was beginning with WikiSource.  Although TEI is more detail oriented, the foundations of the language can be learned through WikiSource.  Proofreading/Validating is the most logical move from print edition to digital edition.  The two are literally side by side and all you have to do is make one edition look like the other while paying attention to the medium you are operating in (for instance, reading WikiSource’s proofreading guidelines is helpful).  Transclusion provides you with the necessary shock.  A lot of anxiety comes with working with digital editions and the act of taking all that you have done and doing it all over again definitely punches you in the face with ephemerality.  Because you are forced to guess who your readership is, annotation continues this feeling of uncertainty and introduces the important tag brackets: < and >!

My initial resistance to learning the TEI language leads me to: secondly, I was learning a language that seemed to quantify the qualitative.  Now, I see TEI markup as a mixture of quantity and quality.  What changed my mind was the session in which Dr. Boyd explained how .xml documents are/could be created for any characters/person’s mentioned in a work.  I immediately saw what I had been told all along, markup provides the facts (IF it is done responsibly) from a work.  The future of these facts is never ending because they can be adopted in various research projects.  Again, IF, a markup is done responsibly, the resulting information allows for the qualitative aspects of the work to shine.

But, when does the code end?  What if one markup is used to simply further more code, and on and on, and there is no ‘sentence tangible‘ result?  Normally I would say I am too engrained in print culture to be prepared for the code that breeds more code question. Then again, diversity could possibly solve this problem?  For instance, in our class, there are some who will adopt the TEI language and take it further, some who will keep the skill, but focus on more ‘sentence tangible’ media, and so on…  That is our generation, however, I have no response for those who are twenty years younger than us.  Will their children be ‘sentence tangible‘ illiterate?

One thing is for certain, I have more respect for the search bar and researchers.  And, eventually, looked forward to coding!

Doubt and Imperfection

As already discussed in other posts and comments, people are constantly working and reworking everything they do.  Right now I am working on the rough draft of what I hope will become a novel one day and I see how there is no such thing as a complete print edition.  Now, I have come across print editions by authors who have left behind notes regarding their work, but witnessing it myself is staggering.  At what point can I say I am finished–when the draft is read and approved by a literary agent and editor?  Even that “final say” seems like a fabrication.  No one is used to this reality of doubt.

At this point I could bring this post back to TEI and Wikisource, but I would like to conclude with something many of the articles we have studied do: the authors extend their Hierarchyresponse to the future.  As we have discussed, the internet deeply unsettles our need for control, which creates a great deal of anxiety.   History shows us what fear/anxiety does to people: one response never entirely answers a problem.

For so long innovation has been tied to industry, ultimately, materialism, and now we answer the “evolution of human innovation” with technological innovation.  But should we be satisfied with this answer?  Well, if we are we run the risk of turning ourselves into the things we glorify.

SurgeryWhat am I talking about?  Plastic surgery, artificial intelligence, cloning, and anything else that augments the human body in the attempt to make it “better”, more “productive”.  If someone can name one thing human beings are masters of I would love to have a conversation with that person.  So how can we modify ourselves correctly?  How can a human who programs the computer ask the computer to help change the human?  Oh, great masters of technology, do I detect some circular logic here?

This question of how much we can augment ourselves and still consider it acceptable, or still consider ourselves “human”, requires a long and complicated debate, like the answer to every question.  Ultimately, for every step we take to the utopian Technological Innovation, we take a step away from our reality of doubt and imperfection.  Doubt and imperfection are who we are.

And whoever, or whatever reminds us that we exist in the liminal state of doubt and imperfection–how we never know the right answer to anything but always think we do; how we love overarching answers even though they are impossible, how we love to hate ourselves and each other and justify this hate and so on–has potential for good in my book media.

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