At our DEMiC 2011 orientation session, I had a chance to welcome 30 EMiC participants to the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. Or, rather, 31 including myself. A long month of EMiCites. This is our largest contingent so far, and DHSI itself has grown to host over 200 participants attending 10 different courses. The EMiC community is represented at DEMiC by 13 partner institutions. EMiC has people enrolled in 7 of the 10 offered courses. But what really makes DEMiC 2011 different from previous years is that EMiC is offering its own DHSI course.
If you’re already dizzied by the acronyms, this is how I parse them: DHSI is the institute in its entirety, and DEMiC is our project’s digital training initiative that allows our participants to take any of the institute’s course offerings. With the introduction of EMiC’s own course, DEMiC has transformed itself. EMiC’s Digital Editions course draws upon the specializations of multiple DHSI course offerings, from Text Encoding Fundamentals to Issues in Large Project Management.
The course has been in the making for roughly six years, beginning with the pilot course in editing and publishing that Meagan and I first offered at Dalhousie in 2006-07. This course was not offered as part of my home department’s standard curriculum, which actually proved advantageous because it gave us the freedom to develop an experiential-learning class without harbouring anxieties about how to make the work of editing in print and digital media align with a traditional literary-studies environment. In other words, we started to develop a new kind of pedagogy for the university classroom in line with the kinds of training that takes place at digital-humanities workshops, seminars, and institutes. To put it even more plainly: we wanted to import pieces of DHSI to the Maritimes. That was pre-EMiC.
With EMiC’s start-up in 2008, we began flying out faculty, students, and postdocs to DHSI. After two years (2009, 2010) of taking various DH courses at introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels, we consulted with the EMiC participants to initiate the process of designing our own DHSI course. Meagan and I worked together on the curriculum, and Matt Huculak consulted with both of us as he surveyed the various options available to us to serve as an interface and repository for the production of EMiC digital editions at DHSI. After six months of trial and error, weekly skype meetings with about a dozen different collaborators, three different servers, and two virtual machines, we installed Islandora with its book ingest solution pack. That’s what we’re testing out in Digital Editions, keeping detailed logs of error messages and bugs.
I would like to thank the many people and institutional partners who have come together to make possible the first version of Digital Editions. This course is the product of an extensive collaborative network: Mark Leggott’s Islandora team at the University of Prince Edward Island (Alan Stanley, Alexander O’Neill, Kirsta Stapelfeldt, Joe Veladium, and Donald Moses), Susan Brown’s CWRCers at the University of Alberta (Peter Binkley, Mariana Paredes, and Jeff Antoniuk), Paul Hjartarson’s EMiC group at the UofA (Harvey Quamen and Matt Bouchard), EMiC postdoc Meagan Timney at UVic’s Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, Image Markup Tool developer Martin Holmes at UVic’s Humanities Computing and Media Centre, and EMiC postdoc Matt Huculak at Dalhousie.
As I write this at the back of a computer lab at UVic, fifteen EMiC participants enrolled in Digital Editions are listening to Meagan, Matt Bouchard, and Alan walk them through the Islandora workflow, filling out MODS forms, testing out the book ingest script with automated OCR, and editing transcriptions in the web-based TEI editor. Some people are waiting patiently for the server to process their ingested texts. We’re witnessing the first stages of EMiC digital editions of manifestos and magazines, poems and novels, letters and short stories. We ingested texts by Crawley, Livesay, Garner, Smart, Page, Scott, Sui Sin Far, Watson, and Wilkinson. And we’re working alongside an international community, too: our newly born repository is also populated with editions of D.G. Rossetti, Marianne Moore, Tato Riviera, Hope Mirrlees, Catherine Sedgwick, and James Joyce.
This afternoon the server at UPEI processed 20 different texts. Hello world. Welcome to Day 1 of the EMiC Commons.
The really engaged posts on the EMiC blog have really got me thinking… If we put all this effort into developing the “EMiC” brand of digital mark-up… Would it be possible to create an online graduate journal, or something similar, within which we could publish samples of our projects? Hosted through EMiC, or partnered with EMiC, but a distinct entity?
This way, like Chris suggests, we could develop a “house style” which all our projects could conform to, but also use and develop. It could be a collaboration, by both humanities scholars, digital humanists and other computer scientists. If we worked with them to develop the tools we’d need to start out and get the ball rolling, then we would be able to self teach through forums like the DHSI summer course.
Some of the small projects we might be interested in pursuing don’t necessarily have a forum for publication. This would give graduate students a chance to learn new technology, and then have an immediate application for it. They would know that their work had a possible “home” within the journal.
Obviously this is looking a little bit longer term, but it would be really amazing if we were able to lay the groundwork for this in the next few years, while we have an EMiC to support and engage us.
Perhaps it could be split into two parts, half scholarly articles about editing in print and online, and half documents or editorial projects that are entirely born digital.
I realize that I am perhaps being a bit over ambitious… But I couldn’t help but take it to the next level. Thoughts??
Did I take it too far?
Chris Doody and I were talking as we poked around the UVic bookstore today, and he was shooting off some great suggestions for things we’d love to see at DHSI next year. Alicia Fahey and I also had a similar conversation with Zailig last night around the kitchen table. Some of these ideas are specifically for EMiCites, but most would also be of interest to the wider DHSI community. Some are lessons, some are tools, but all of them would be useful. Here are the ones that we’ve been discussing, but this will hopefully be a list that grows during the course of the week:
1. Image Markup Tool 2.0: Tools and Tricks
2. a standardized EMiC set of TEI tags, a schema, and a basic CSS template so that we’re all speaking the same language and our final projects have the same aesthetic. Of course we’ll all need to customize things for our individual projects, but consistent appearance and functionality across projects would be great for us as editors and for the EMiC “brand.” Along with this, of course, would be lessons in how to use them!
3. From Code to Digital Edition: CSS and XSLT Stylesheets for TEI
4. Successful Grant Applications 101
5. Issues in Permissions and Copyright
Some of these ideas could become documents that are hosted in a central location that all EMiCites can access. As it keeps getting repeated in TEI Fundamentals, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so the more we can all share information and tools, the easier all of our jobs get. Looking forward to hearing more ideas!