Editing Modernism in Canada


June 12, 2010

Digital Archives/Editions: What We Need to Do and What We Need to Know

At today’s EMiC wrap-up lunch, Dean asked us to take 10-15 minutes to write a post about what we need from TEMiC/DEMiC going forward in order to plan and implement our digital projects. What I’ve done–and bear with me, because this is maybe a bit more extensive than what Dean was thinking of–was try to come up with a list of everything we need to think about/know/do in order to create a digital archive or edition, from start to finish. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a lot, and this list is coming out of the project I’m planning (so I’m sure I’ve missed things that you need to consider for your project, or I’ve included things that you don’t need to), but it’s a place to start.

1)     The documents we’ll be working with

–Where are they located?
–How many are there? (and therefore, how big the project is and how long it will take)
–Who holds control over access to them?
–How do I  get access and permission to publish digitally?

2)     Project planning

–What do I want this project to be/do?
–How do I make it be/do that digitally?
–How big is this going to be (#of documents)?
–How long is it going to take to create? What’s my timeline and schedule?
–What do I need to learn?
–What resources will I need?

i)       education: TEI, CSS, XMLT, IMT, analytics

ii)     time: assessing, scanning, coding, web design, tweaking

iii)   tech: oXygen, web editors, computer, hosting site, tech support, OCR program, scanner

iv)    money: permissions, hosting, scanning, labour, education, software

v)      people: to teach, to work, to listen

–How can I access these resources?

i)       At my university-people, physical, and monetary resources

ii)     Through EMiC

iii)   At DHSI

iv)    Through funding agencies and grants

v)      My own resources, research, and self-teaching

3)     What to do with the documents

–scans that then get OCRed for TEI markup
–300-600 DPI tiff scans that then get marked up in SharedCanvas and used for display

4)     Making them digital

–TEI markup for conversion to web format and use with analytic tools (according to a standard schema and limited tag set for EMiC projects)
–image markup for digital facsimiles
–ways of integrating/paralleling the two

5)     Making them useable

–converting TEI to functional websites (CSS, XSLT etc.)
–to do this ourselves, or to hire someone?
–getting them online (hosting etc.)
–making them aesthetically pleasing—EMiC-standard web design
–searchability/ analytics/visualizations

6)     Making them known

–promoting our projects to the wider community—English scholars and students, digital humanists, general readers

7)     How to manage EMiC projects alongside our “official” Master’s and doctoral work

–time management

–working at institutions/with supervisors who are not EMiC affiliated

Now to you–what have I missed? What else do we need to know and do to turn our ideas into realities?

One Response to “Digital Archives/Editions: What We Need to Do and What We Need to Know”

  1. Zailig Pollock says:

    This is a very thorough and very useful list of issues that need to be addressed. What I would like to give some thought to, as someone who has attended DEMiC as a student and who has taught TEMiC, is which of these issues are best addressed in a course (or courses) aimed exclusively or primarily at participants in EMiC and which by other means — special sessions at Congress or other conferences, blogs, THAT Camps (a concept I just learned about – if it is new to you check out http://thatcamp.org/), etc.

    Here are some of my thoughts, based largely on our Friday discussion.

    We need to do BOTH EMiC-specific things and broader outreach and networking Hannah and Reilly both emphasized the latter point as I remember. By this I mean first, that I think that there is a need to start discussing the kinds of issues that are important to anyone undertaking editing in Canada, whether heavily digital in emphasis or not. But, it is also important that we get the word out about what we are doing – as editors and as digital humnists — and hear about what other people are doing — both are absolutely crucial if we are to continue to grow as a mutually supportive group of scholars, but also as one that has impact beyond our own particular projects. To me this means that, at least as far as courses are concerned, it is crucial that we retain a strong presence at DHSI but that there is also a place for more of a “retreat-like” experience, as Dean describes TEMiC at Trent.

    Second, as is very clear from Melissa’s list some of the issues that we need to deal with are digital, some are not. My sense is that there are enough of these issues to justify having them covered in 2 distinct courses, one with a digital emphasis (e.g. IMT, XSLT, schemata and tagsets, publication enginesm etc.), and one focussing more on project management (including issues such as access to resources, copyright, time management, grant applications.)

    Third, we need to deal with both consciousness-raising and acquiring skills. In this respect I found the comments on the TEI fundamentals course very interesting, since it clearly — and in my mind, rightly — attempts both of these. However, I think there is some general frustration — which I share — that there is no place to go at DHSI if you want to actually learn how to produce useable TEI documents with appropriate stylesheets, no clear second step towards acquiring further skills.

    This is what I see as a possible way of going — one however that needs to be supplemented by social networking and face-to-face get togethers at frequent intervals.

    Some of us are going to be more deeply involved in the digital side of editing projects than others, but I think there are certain things we all need to be familiar with as editors of modernist Canadian texts. The first, I think is editorial theory, as presented in the first week of TEMiC, designed by Dean for last year’s TEMiC and slightly modified by me in this year’s. I found the experience of thinking through various approaches to editing as developed in the very different and in many ways complementary Anglo-Saxon, French and German traditions very useful indeed, and I believe the other participants in the course did too — though I have not yet had time to send out a course evaluation. This is inevitably involves a lot of reading — no time for Karaoke — and intensive, focussed discussion which I think Trent was very well suited for. The second half of TEMic was more project oriented this year than last. I would carry on this focus but I would rethink this week as emphasizing EMiC project management, with very little emphasis on digital issues per se, which are better left to DHSI with its much richer resources both technological and human. There would be no prerequisite for either of these courses though I think that, all things being equal, it would be a good idea if people had some familiarity with TEI; also, if possible they should take the theory course before the project management course.

    For DHSI I would recommend that we set up an entirely new course on something like Digital Editions. This would focus on issues of particular interest to EMiC — IMT, TILE, XSLT, schemata, digitization, etc. — but of broader interest to anyone interested in digital editing. Having this broader focus would mean that DHSI might be willing to actually fund it — rather than just giving us a room to work in — and it would also mean that the course would attract people doing other things. I think that the TEI fundamental scourse, or a reasonable level of familiarity with TEI would should be a prerequisite.

    The EMiC course would still take place at DHSI in June. The TEMiC courses should be later in the year, maybe the first couple weeks in August. It might also be possible to do the second week even later – we would need to think about this in terms of people’s schedules. I am willing to continue doing one or both TEMiC weeks at Trent but I am also willing to pass on the torch.

    If people have the time I think it would probably be good to do all three courses – digital editions, editorial theory, project management — in the same year, but there would be a lot of flexibility.

    For example, you could do TEI fundamentals followed by TEMiC editorial theory in one year and Diigtal Editing and TEMiC project management in the second. Or, if you have the TEI background, you could do Digital Editing in the first year, some other DHSI course in the second. And the 2 TEMiC courses in first or second year or spread over both.These are just some suggestions.

    I would be very interested to hear what people think about this model and about Melissa’s list.

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