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Humanist Archives: Feb. 4, 2019, 7:55 a.m. Humanist 32.417 - the McGann-Renear debate

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 417.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: William Pascoe 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.416: the McGann-Renear debate (71)

    [2]    From: Dr. Herbert Wender 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.416: the McGann-Renear debate (11)

        Date: 2019-02-04 00:47:04+00:00
        From: William Pascoe 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.416: the McGann-Renear debate


Just thinking about how a practical alternative technology to XML for marking up
texts based on this discussion might work, where text = a linear series of
discrete characters (since there are many such things and it's useful to find
general ways to work with them).

One issue is that there are many heirarchies applicable to any text depending on
what someone is interested in. It's not realistic to apply all this markup to a
single text file, so how would you overlay all these different markups?

Another is that start and end points of features of interest sometimes overlap,
which is a problem for the strictly nested heirarchy required in XML.

Why not just leave the text file alone, not put the tags in the text file
itself, and specify markup in a different file, that has pointers to the start
and end character.

The strictness of the heirarchy would be optional, so for those purposes that
things like DTDs are useful for, you could still have that (such as act, scene,
speaking character or POS tagging), but you could also have complete looseness,
such as annotations on overlapping text segments.

This external markup file could still even be XML itself, with a lot of tags and
values that point to start and end points, and it's own DTDs for problem
domains, as normal. Instead of text in it, there is just the pointers. It would
be easy enough to automatically convert a text marked up with XML into one of
these external ones, just by stripping the text and potting a 'start' and 'end'
attribute on every tag.

That way an interface could slurp in as many of these and highlight/colour code
etc a text with as many different markup files as you wanted to import, if you
wanted to visualise it, or also, to process it, with these different ways of
looking at it from different people's work.

I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already come up with this approach.

A problem with this approach is that the text of interest would need to be
static, because you make one change and all the pointers point to the wrong
address, but in many useful cases there are static texts for which this would be
useful. Though some version control system could be brought to bear.

So for example, this would be useful for the set of Shakespeare plays.
Cannonical, unchanging plain text versions are readily established, and there is
much interest in people marking it up in different ways for different purposes.
In your app you could view the text and import/overlay any number of scholars
markup and annotations. Or you could process different exo-markup files to
datamine for correlations etc.

Kind regards,

Dr Bill Pascoe
eResearch Consultant
Digital Humanities Lab
Centre for 21st Century Humanities

T: 0435 374 677
E: bill.pascoe@newcastle.edu.au

The University of Newcastle (UON)
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308

        Date: 2019-02-03 11:07:07+00:00
        From: Dr. Herbert Wender 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.416: the McGann-Renear debate


you've questioned Desmond's thesis and ask for an example. A very pretty one
you'll find in a review of "Three Recent Editions of Goethe's *Faust* "; Matthew
Bell (MLR 88.3, 2003, pp. 634-658) refers the situation in the witnesses for a
location in the second part of the play: "an awkward crux in the
'Mummenschanz', which involves removing a speaker's name from its anomalous
position in mid-sentence" (p. 648).

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