In this article, I looked at James Cummings text encoding initiative. The article as a whole may seem somewhat daunting to those who don’t have a great understanding of this particular subject, and certainly there is material that is in the article that is confusing to say the least, however if one reads down through it slowly you begin to get a understanding of what Cummings is saying. Therefore, what exactly is TEI (text encoding initiative?) .Well Cumming’s at the start of the article tells us the history of TEI and where it came from? TEI is a text centric community of practice in the academic field of digital humanities, and in his article, he states that it has been around for a long period, even before the World Wide Web was created. He goes on to talk about the TEI guidelines, which are used throughout many encoding projects, especially in the Arts and Humanities. TEI has been around longer then the world wide web it has influenced many of the web standards that we see and use today, for example XML. Cumming’s found that the second TEI would have taken up too much space within this article, therefore he focuses on the history and various issues. Not exactly understanding what the TEI was, I found it quite hard to understand what Cumming’s was saying when he was describing the TEI guidelines, so instead of trying to decipher Cummings words to try make sense of it, I decided to look up TEI myself through other sources and websites which benefited my understanding of TEI.
In the article Cumming’s talks about the principles of TEI (the Poughkeepsie principles) and although TEI Guidelines will inevitably change, they will overall stay true to the initial design goals. Throughout, Cumming’s stresses that at its core the TEI is a community-led organization, and this is seen in all different areas of its activity. It has members ranging from groups to individuals who pay continuation of the consortium. One of the TEI’s enduring legacies has been the way in which it helps us in our understanding if a certain text, this crucial understanding — that print textuality is not language but an operational (praxis-based) theory of language — has stared us in the face for a long time, but seeing we have not seen. It has taken the emergence of electronic textualities, and in particular operational theories of natural language like TEI, to expose the deeper truth about print and manuscript texts”. Mc Gann. What we are doing is using a different language to interpret things, for example The <title> element is said to contain “the full title of a work of any kind,” but since it does not further define what a “title” means, this only adds to the suggestion that mark-up is in fact a act of interpretation.
Therefore, looking at TEI, it does seem to give a foundation from which editors, scholars and others can carry out the study of literature through digital means. James Cumming’s is convinced that this is the way forward, stating that more digital editions will be created in the future, noting that as the study of literature becomes even more digital in our present world, it is our responsibility to ensure as much as possible that this method of editing is based on truly scholarly electronic editions which have both the reliability and service expected of them.
In summing up James Cumming’s article I have to say I found it interesting, and although some of the material he has written about may have been hard to understand at first, I must say that eventually I had a good take on it. In studying computer science, I found it gave me an advantage in terms of understanding what Cumming’s was portraying in terms of interpreting language for example <p>and <title> etc. Overall, I really enjoyed the article’s insight into this ever-changing world.
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