18.710 exam question

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 06:48:22 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 710.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: njovanov_at_ffzg.hr (29)
         Subject: 18.701 exam question

   [2] From: Wendell Piez <wapiez_at_mulberrytech.com> (49)
         Subject: Re: 18.701 exam question

         Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 06:43:28 +0100
         From: njovanov_at_ffzg.hr
         Subject: 18.701 exam question

"Tagging is a subspecies of critical reading". Discuss.

This is precisely what I tried to show (not in an exam, but in a PhD
thesis), segmenting and tagging a (100.000 words long, Latin, and
religious) prose text with a set of stylistic values (TEI "seg" element
with "ana" fields); the set evolved during reading, and reflects how I
"learned the style" of the text.

The counter-arguments of my mentor were:

1) what if somebody else tagged the same text completely differently?
2) could the "level of detail" I decided on for a prose text (how deep
markup should be) be applied to poetry?

Re 1, I believe that precisely the differences of two "critical readings",
when they are made much more explicit --- and, shall we say, falsifiable
--- by markup, or computer modelling, enable us to discuss what style,
and the perception of it, really is. Why did you mark _this_, and _here_,
when I marked _that_, and _there_?

Re 2, my mentor seems to be right. Reading another text would result in
another set of values --- reading poetry would mean that these values
would be *very* different.

(My main technical problem was, by the way, how to process the segments
that were nested, and the segments where the "ana" fields from the TEI
scheme had multiple values; also, I wished I knew more about

(For the time being, the marked-up text --- and its tags --- can be seen at
unfortunately, mainly in Latin and Croatian...)


Neven Jovanovic

         Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 06:43:59 +0100
         From: Wendell Piez <wapiez_at_mulberrytech.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.701 exam question

Willard and HUMANIST:

I think Martin Holmes' response to this question is very illuminating.

My first reaction to the exam question was to say "yes, of course, etc.",
except that Martin has reminded me that most of the time, it simply isn't so.

If your markup pallet is clean and you can use any markup you like --
perhaps in an exploratory mode (first mark up, then decide how to process),
maybe the work of markup verges on critical reading. The *design of a tag
set* (or markup scheme) definitely has something in common with critical
reading, in the analytic and synthetic interpretation it requires.

But most markup schemes used in the real world, as in Martin's case, have
already been designed when they are applied (the tag set is a given; the
"reader" cannot extend it at will) and merely have to be "fit" to the
content (or perhaps the content needs to be dressed in the markup to make
it presentable). Applying such markup is not so much critical reading as it
is a strategic and focused reduction of the task of reading to the minimum
needed to accomplish particular interpretive operations (to be inscribed in
markup for later retrieval).

We might similarly ask "is the operation of a linotype a subspecies of
critical reading" -- although interestingly, the answer may still be a
qualified "yes". (I guess linotype operators had to decide where to put the
hyphens didn't they?)


At 02:45 AM 4/12/2005, Martin Holmes wrote:
> Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 07:34:27 +0100
> From: Martin Holmes <mholmes_at_uvic.ca>
> >
>I'm just tagging up the abstracts for the ACH/ALLC conference in June. I've
>got through about 100 documents so far, and it's quite remarkable how
>little I end up knowing about the content of the document after marking it
>up. I'm very aware of its structure and hierarchy, consistency in style,
>punctuation, and so on, and I'm especially aware of the size of the
>bibliography (which is complicated and tedious to tag, so every item
>registers as a small pain). But as far as reading critically goes,
>absolutely not.
>We are working extremely quickly under a looming deadline, so that has a
>lot to do with it. And after tagging, the documents are proofed again by
>both the authors and the academic editors, so it's not as if the results
>aren't getting a critical reading.

Wendell Piez mailto:wapiez_at_mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc. http://www.mulberrytech.com
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Received on Thu Apr 14 2005 - 02:01:13 EDT

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