13.0289 computing in textual studies

Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Wed, 24 Nov 1999 12:50:19 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 289.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Christian Wittern <chris@ccbs.ntu.edu.tw> (42)
Subject: RE: 13.0281 perfectability of texts

[2] From: Jan Christoph Meister <jan-c-meister@rrz.uni- (36)
Subject: Humanities Computing and Narratology

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 17:19:48 +0000
From: Christian Wittern <chris@ccbs.ntu.edu.tw>
Subject: RE: 13.0281 perfectability of texts

Here are some thoughts on the recent discussion of scholarly practices,
markup and perfectability of texts.

I have been promoting the idea of a "open source" policy in text projects
at several occasions during the last year. I still believe, there is a lot
we can learn from open source software projects, but there are also some
important differences.

Open source projects usually center around a code maintainer, who receives
bug reports and generally develops the project. In bigger project, this
might actually be a group of people, but even there is a 'pumpkin holder'
needed. Now, while software projects might get away with the notion of some
single 'ideal' goal, towards which the project develops, markup, in so far
as it imposes some interpretation on the text, can not be considered as so
simplistic: We need to accomodate the possibility of several, mutually
exclusive ways of marking up a text.

With the application of markup, we have become used to ask a processing
software to generate multiple, entirely different views of a text,
depending on what we want to do with the text. I think, we have to carry
this notion one step further, to extend the creation of views to the markup
itself: Of course, I could in theory have one densely marked up text with
lingustic markup, markup for the needs of historians and yet another type
for literary studies. Instead of loading all this into one file, I suggest
we think of different layers of markup, from which one instance is
generated depending on the needs we have at a certain moment.

Although the source sharing is important and needed, this should not be the
only perspective of collaboration: What we need to develop is also some
protocol through which distributed layered portions of markup, which might
be located on entirely different physical locations, can be used to
generate a view of a text. We might also want to think of "open
workgroups", where markup can be added remotely to texts located somewhere
in cyberspace. As Tim O'Reilly pointed out in a recent address to a forum
of Linux developpers[1], the Web is not just an information server anymore,
but an application by itself and it is important to develop more
sophisticated ways for these applications to communicate with each other.

[1] _Where the Web Leads Us_
In a talk from Linux World in Tokyo, Tim O'Reilly offers a broad
perspective on the confluence of Open Source software and open standards,
looking at past and future developments.

Dr. Christian Wittern
Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies
276, Kuang Ming Road, Peitou 112
Taipei, TAIWAN
Tel. +886-2-2892-6111#65, Email chris@ccbs.ntu.edu.tw

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 17:20:39 +0000
From: Jan Christoph Meister <jan-c-meister@rrz.uni-hamburg.de>
Subject: Humanities Computing and Narratology


The "Working Group on Narratology" at Hamburg University - comprising some
20 scholars of literature, language, film and media from various
departments (French, Slavic Languages, English, Medieval Studies, German,
Film Studies etc.) is currently planning for a 3-5 year funded
collaborative research project which will investigate various historical,
theoretical and methodological aspects of "Narratology".

One of the individual projects falling under this ambit aims to survey and
discuss examples of theoretical and practical "cross-overs" between
Narratology and Humanities Computing / Literary Computing. We would be very
grateful for any information on projects, both in teaching and research, as
well as in editorial practice, where narratological categories have either
been informed, or the subject of a Humanities Computing approach in the
widest sense.

In our understanding this would cover the entire spectrum ranging from
discussions on the operational validity of "high-level concepts" such as,
"author", "narrator", "discourse" from a HC point of view right to the very
concrete level of defining mark-up conventions for narratological
categories, and implementation of these in software design. In other words,
we are looking for ANY occurence of the "usual Narratological suspects" -
in whatever numeric, digital or conceptual disguise and disciplinary
context they may have been encountered: "plot/story", "point
of view", "function", "motif", "plot grammar", "narrated time vs.
discourse time" / "erzählte Zeit/ Erzählzeit", "move", "implied author"
etc. etc..

Any assistance and information is greatly appreciated!




Dr. Jan Christoph Meister
Arbeitsstelle zur Sozialgeschichte der Literatur
Literaturwissenschaftliches Seminar
Universität Hamburg
E-Mail: jan-c-meister@rrz.uni-hamburg.de