Week ten: from codex to encoding

This session extends your skills in digital mediation and is part of our continuing reflection on those processes. This week we will learn the basics – and consequent conceptual issues – of encoding in XML and using the Text Encoding Initiative guidelines on encoding (TEI). These are internationally-accepted formats and standards, particularly for humanities projects and documents. This sounds challenging, but it’s worthwhile thinking of this as a method of marking up a text.

In advance of the workshop:

  • Read Kevin Hawkins ‘Introduction to XML for Text.’ Tip: focus on the first and last paragraphs.
  • Read talk01 (James Cummings, Oxford University, Introduction to TEI). Read slides 8-36.
  • Download exercise01 (Oxford University, Introduction to TEI worksheet). For use in the session.
  • Work on 2 versions of Tony Harrison’s poem ‘An Old Score’ (from Tony Harrison: Selected Poems. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987):
  1. Print out the photocopy of the page (.pdf) and annnotate it as you would if you were preparing to analyse it for a seminar. Think about what features you annotate (or markup).
  2. Now print out the plain text transcription (.txt). Note the differences between the two. Annotate the plain text with some instructions to make it look like the published version.
  3. “Only that which is explicit can be reliably processed.” What are the similarities and differences between the two sets of annotations, or what we will from now on call ‘markup’? Try to look at it the way a machine might. Which are feature of presentation and which are features of meaning? Where do these overlap?

In the session we will create an XML document

  1. We will follow ‘exercise01’ from the Oxford TEI worksheets. NB. instead of using Wilfred Owen’s ‘Strange Meeting’ we will be using Tony Harrison’s poem ‘An Old Score’ (use the .txt file).
  2. Notice how structured the encoding is: how elements such as <l>, <lg>, <head> are nested within each-other. When I demonstrate more complex encoding we will see how these structural features can be given additional meaning.