If you don’t know it, the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), is one of the oldest digital humanities projects dedicated to fashioning encoding solutions for non-digital texts. The Encoding Guidelines, as they are known, were designed to capture the complexities of pre-digital texts.
If you doubt the complexities of pre-digital texts, consider the following image of a cover page from the Leningrad Codex:
Or, consider this page from the Mikraot Gedolot:
There are more complex pages, such as the mss. of Charles Peirce (Peirce Logic Notebook, Charles Sanders Peirce Papers MS Am 1632 (339). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.):
And those are just a few random examples. Encoding pre-digital texts is a complex and rewarding field of study.
Not that “born digital” texts need concede anything to “pre-digital” texts. When you think about our capacity to capture versions, multiple authors, sources, interpretations of readers, discussions and the like, the wealth of material that can be associated with any one text becomes quite complex.
Consider for example the Harry Potter book series that spawned websites, discussion lists, interviews with the author, films and other resources. Not quite like the interpretative history of the Bible but enough to make an interesting problem.
Anything that can encode that range of texts is of necessity quite complex itself and therein lies the rub. You work very hard at document analysis, using or extending the TEI Guidelines to encode your text, now what?
- Show the XML text to family and friends. Always a big hit at parties.
- Use your tame XSLT wizard to create a custom conversion of the XML text so normal people will want to see and use it.
- Use the TEI Boilerplate project for a stock delivery of the XML text so normal people will want to see and use it. (like your encoders, funders)
From the webpage:
TEI Boilerplate is a lightweight solution for publishing styled TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) P5 content directly in modern browsers. With TEI Boilerplate, TEI XML files can be served directly to the web without server-side processing or translation to HTML. Our TEI Boilerplate Demo illustrates many TEI features rendered by TEI Boilerplate.
TEI Boilerplate requires a robust, modern browser to do its work. It is compatible with current versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer (IE 9). If you have problems with TEI Boilerplate with a modern browser, please let us know by filing a bug report at https://sourceforge.net/p/teiboilerplate/tickets/.
Many thanks to John Walsh, Grant Simpson, and Saeed Moaddeli, all from Indiana University for this wonderful addition to the TEI toolbox!
PS: If you have disposable funds and aren’t planning on mining asteroids, please consider donating to the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). Even asteroid miners need to know Earth history, a history written in texts.