Editing Modernism in Canada


June 27, 2011


Yes you guessed it.  This was my first year of workshops. I probably looked like my twelve- year-old self who arrived in Canada in 1998, two weeks into the start of a school year, spoke no English, and wore funny clothes: lost. You know that feeling like you’re watching a foreign movie with no subtitles? That’s  how I felt in 1998, and that how I felt again when I first started the fundamentals workshop this year. But the similarity between this foreign experience and that other earlier one soon faded, as (to stick to my movie analogy) the cast and crew of DHSI and EMiC all stepped out of the screen and gave me a big digital/human hug. It was just code; nothing to be scared of.

I’m like you.  Writing codes and learning entire languages to represent, analyze, and access information is not what I do on a daily basis. Not yet anyway, though, I have to say after my experience at this camp I’m not at all opposed to the idea. In my real life now I read books, I write papers (or poems), I bake bread, I blog, bike, and water my herbs. The reason I ended up in this amazing program was mainly my thesis adviser’s affiliation and involvement with EMiC, but I have to say, since I came back I have a wonderful feeling like I’m in on an awesome secret.

The secret is that the humanities and the digital world can be friends. That means my Dad (the software engineer) and I (the poet) are closer than we think. It means when my cyber-savvy younger sister says Twitter, my brain doesn’t have to auto-correct it to Twain. When you reduce the units of our currency to layers of ideas, lines, words, and characters, it all begins to come together. The most pleasurable part of the experience for me has been the realization that what I have started to learn systematically, has been practically in my life all along. I was already analyzing trends in literature, I was already blogging and tweeting and networking. Only now I have a really neat way of understanding the complex and exciting ways in which the information that goes through my life is connected to the processes that help it move along effectively. I can only hope to have a hand in these processes soon. A few more workshops and I don’t see what not.

One Response to “Diginitiation”

  1. jweingarten says:

    This was also my first TEI / DEMiC workshop and I also felt that feeling of foreignness at first, but whatever apprehensions I had were quickly allayed. Although at first I was hoping for a little more of an introduction to TEI on the first day, I did realize once we started doing hands-on activities that TEI and digital editing in general are learn-while-you-work by necessity and for sake of practicality. The abstractions are difficult to grasp, but putting pen to paper (well, mouse to screen? what do you ‘put’ to screen? we need some 21st century metaphors) is actually quite enjoyable. You start connecting the dots rather quickly.

    I suppose one of many things I pulled out of these sessions was a greater appreciation for distillation in critical work. In an article or chapter or whatever else, you can’t include everything, even though that is always our temptation. Similarly, you can’t encode every single thing you think of; you have to be selective, despite the temptation to tag every name, every place, every event, date and so on. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but like any learning process, this process of selection and distillation appears to be getting easier with practice. More importantly, the doors opened by such technology are just mind-blowing. I had no idea how many commands would be at our disposal and how much we can tag / trace / annotate and so on. It was very much an eye-opening experience.

    I really encourage anyone who hasn’t to check out TEI next year or any of the other excellent workshops that DEMiC and TEMiC have to offer!

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