12.0555 new TEI Consortium

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:54:09 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 555.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:51:19 +0100
From: John Unsworth <jmu2m@virginia.edu>
Subject: New TEI Consortium

Consortium Formed for the Maintenance of the Text Encoding Initiative

A new consortium has been formed for the maintenance and continuing
work of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). The TEI is an
international project to develop guidelines for the encoding of
textual material in electronic form for research purposes; until now,
it had been organized as a simple cooperative effort of the three
sponsors, and funded solely by grant funds. Now four universities
have agreed to serve as hosts for the new consortium, and the three
organizations which founded the TEI and have governed it until now
have agreed to transfer the responsibility for maintaining and
revising the TEI Guidelines to the new consortium.

In the first five-year period of the consortium (2000-2005), the four
hosts will be the University of Bergen (Humanities Information
Technologies Research Programme), the University of Virginia
(Electronic Text Center and Institute for Advanced Technology in the
Humanities), Oxford University (Computing Services), and Brown
University (Scholarly Technology Group).

The three original sponsoring organizations (the Association for
Computers and the Humanities, the Association for Computational
Linguistics, and the Association for Literary and Linguistic
Computing) will maintain close contact with the consortium in order
to ensure a smooth transition to the new governance structure.

Representatives of the sponsoring organizations, the consortium hosts,
and the user community expressed optimism that the TEI Consortium will
provide a stable, useful organizational structure for the TEI. "If
the TEI is to be useful to users in research and teaching," said John
Unsworth of Virginia, "there must be a stable base of financial
support. The TEI Consortium will make it possible to provide that
support, and ensure that the TEI is around for the long term." Lou
Burnard, the European Editor of the TEI and representative of one of
the new host sites, agreed. "The TEI has always been about taking the
long view of data for scholarship. If there were no TEI Consortium to
provide for the maintenance of the Guidelines, it would be necessary
to invent one. As, indeed, we have just found ourselves forced to

Manfred Thaller of the University of Bergen stressed the importance
of spreading the word of the TEI in countries and disciplines
where it has not yet been successfully disseminated. "For many people
less familiar with markup and SGML and XML, the TEI is still a wholly
unknown quantity. There are many populations in which it is still
necessary to explain why having a widely used common encoding scheme
is something people should be interested in, and why it should be in
SGML or XML. The TEI Consortium will provide a useful basis for
speaking to these communities."

With the rise of XML, some observers predict that the TEI Consortium
has a window of opportunity to make TEI a much more widely used method
of text encoding than ever before. "Now that common off-the-shelf
browsers are beginning to support XML and style sheets," says David
Chesnutt (who represents the ACH on the TEI consortium transition
team), "we have something to give users that they can use, in their
current environments, today. We no longer have to tell them about pie
in the sky by and by -- there's software they can use right now.
We'll always need more software for scholarly work, sure -- but it is
a big improvement to be able to use Internet Explorer or Netscape to
look at a historical documentary edition in its SGML form, instead of
having to translate it into HTML or use a piece of software people
wouldn't otherwise need to get." "When people see what XML and style
sheets can do," said Allen Renear of Brown, "who is going to want to
continue using HTML? They'll be looking for good DTDs to use -- and
the TEI is going to be RIGHT THERE and ready for them."


The Text Encoding Intiative (TEI) is an international project to
develop guidelines for the preparation and interchange of electronic
texts for scholarly research, and to serve a broad range of purposes
for the language industries more generally. During the ten years from
1988 to 1998, the TEI issued two sets of draft guidelines and one
'final' version (TEI P3). During this decade, the TEI has become the
most widely used document-type definition for encoding full-text
literary and linguistic resources in library collections and scholarly
editorial projects.

The TEI's steering committee has been considering a reorganization of
the project for some time, and issued calls for proposals last summer.
The new consortium was proposed by the University of Virginia and the
University of Bergen and was accepted, in February of 1999, by the TEI's
three original sponsoring organizations, ACH, ACL, and ALLC.
The basic principles of the new consortium are these:

* TEI guidelines, other documentation, and the TEI DTD should
continue to be free to users;

* Participation in TEI governance should be open (even to
non-members) at all levels;

* The TEI will continue to strive to be internationally and
interdisciplinarily representative;

* No role with respect to TEI should be without term.

More information about the TEI consortium, membership and members'
services, TEI guidelines and their implementation, and other
TEI-related events, opportunities, and materials can be found at

The TEI Consortium:

In response to a public request for proposals from the three
sponsoring organizations that originally formed and supported the TEI,
the University of Bergen and the University of Virginia proposed, and
the original sponsoring organizations endorsed, a community-based,
international, and collective mechanism for the maintenance and
development of the Text Encoding Initiative, to take the form of a
consortium. This consortium will include four host institutions (with
a preference for the broadest possible international representation)
who will host TEI meetings (on a rotating basis), commit institutional
resources (in the form of cash and services) to building a membership
base and to supporting the editorial operations associated with the

These hosts will recruit other members to the consortium, from library
organizations, scholarly societies, and other groups with a proven and
acknowledged interest in data standards; these members will pay an
annual fee to belong to the consortium, in exchange for which, each
will have a vote in the election of the TEI Council, early access to
draft revisions and updates to the TEI DTD and its documentation, and
discounts on TEI-related services. The TEI Council itself may include
individuals who are not themselves from member institutions.
A principal purpose of this consortium will be to provide expanded
opportunities for representatives of various TEI user communities to
participate in the management and direction of TEI, and to formalize
the procedures for such participation: the first election of the TEI
council and directorate will be held in the spring of 2000.

The consortium will also make it a priority to see that a corrected
and updated version of the TEI P3 guidelines is issued as soon as
possible, and in connection with that revision, to develop new
training materials including practical examples of TEI markup in
particular disciplinary contexts.

TEI's History:

The TEI began with a planning conference convened by the Association
for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) and gathering together
thirty-odd experts in the field of electronic texts, representing
professional societies, research centers, and text and data
archives. The planning conference was funded by the U.S. National
Endowment for the Humanities (an independent federal agency) and took
place at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York on 12-13 November

After two days of intense discussion, the participants in the meeting
reached agreement on the desirability and feasibility of creating a
common encoding scheme for use both in creating new documents and in
exchanging existing documents among text and data archives; the
closing statement (the Poughkeepsie Principles) enunciated principles
to guide the creation of such a scheme.

Following the planning conference, the task of developing an encoding
scheme for use in creating electronic texts for research was
undertaken by three Sponsoring Organizations, the Association for
Computers and the Humanities (ACH), the Association for Computational
Linguistics (ACL), and the Association for Literary and Linguistic
Computing (ALLC). Each sponsoring organization names representatives
to a Steering Committee, which is responsible for the overall
direction of the project.

With support from NEH and later from the Commission of the European
Communities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the TEI began the
task of developing a draft set of Guidelines for Electronic Text
Encoding and Interchange. Working committees comprising scholars from
all over North America and Europe drafted recommendations on various
aspects of the problem, which were integrated into a first public
draft (document TEI P1), which was published for public comment in
June 1990.

After the publication of the first draft, work began immediately on
its revision. Fifteen or so specialized work groups were assigned to
refine the contents of TEI P1 and to extend it to areas not yet
covered. So much work was produced that a bottleneck ensued getting it
ready for publication, and the second draft of the Guidelines (TEI P2)
was released chapter by chapter from April 1992 through November 1993.
In the spring of 1993, all published chapters were revised yet again,
some other necessary materials were added, and the development phase
of the TEI came to its conclusion with the publication of the first
`official' version of the Guidelines (the first one not labeled a
draft) in May 1994.

Since that time, the TEI has concentrated on making the Guidelines
more accessible to users, teaching workshops and training users, and
on preparing ancillary material like tutorials and introductions.


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