10.0841 rain on the workshops

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 21:56:06 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 841.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Mark Olsen <mark@barkov.uchicago.edu> (43)
Subject: Re: 10.0831 workshops & institutes

Hi guys,

I guess I should really title this note "The Band Wagon Rolls On,"
because I guess I'm gonna start up the TEI brawl again. Sorry
to rain on the parade, but somebody has to....

I am surprised that so many of the recently announced workshops and
institutes seem to make the teaching of encoding, and particularly
TEI encoding, a primary objective. The TEI, is seems to me, is being
treated as if it is an accepted standard. This is not at all clear.
In fact, there are serious design and implementation questions
that can suggest that TEI is neither an acceptable standard nor an
implementable standard.

Last year, I gave a rather inflammatory talk against the TEI
guidelines at the ALLC/ACH conference in Bergen. A slightly
revised version is at:


I was stunned by the number of people who contacted me then
and since with similiar concerns.

Given the facts that:

-- the TEI Guidelines have never been subjected to significant
peer review,
-- that there are many in the feild who consider the current Guidelines
to be unworkable for many reasons, and
-- that there is a dearth of analytical software (other than systems
to verify that a document is TEI-conformant, for what that is

I hope that the various course instructors will at the very least
inform participants that the TEI is NOT the only, or even best,
way to encode documents, and that encoding itself -- a labor intensive
activity -- may have far more limited results than hoped. As I
suggested in Bergen, I do find the effort by TEI proponents to teach
a specification that has not been sufficiently tested to be a risky
endeavor because we are asking people to spend significant amounts
of time and money performing tasks that may not live up to the
advance billings.

I'm sure I'll be hearing from the TEI supporters in droves. :-)


Mark Olsen
Assistant Director
ARTFL Project
University of Chicago
(773) 702-8687
WWW: http://humanities.uchicago.edu/ARTFL/ARTFL.html

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections
must first be overcome. --- Samuel Johnson