[Humanist] 26.209 what *is* a digital edition?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Aug 4 16:20:18 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 209.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2012 09:40:33 -0700
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Fwd: [DIGITALCLASSICIST] Euripides Scholia, or: what makes a digitaledition digital?

[From time to time I pass on messages from Digital Classicist 
(http://www.digitalclassicist.org/) without signalling their origins in
that group. Following is yet another worthy posting that has already
provoked some comment, but rather than keep sending these on
I direct the attention of all those interested in the question (what,
after all, *is* a "digital edition"?) to the discussion there. --WM]

Dear all,

I have checked out the interesting scholarly edition "Euripides Scholia" 
online, by D. Mastronarde. Very usefully, he exposes the rationale (both 
philological and digital) of his edition in 

I'll mention here a couple of passages of that page and then ask a 
question on the digital nature of that important edition.

Mastronarde writes:
"I have preferred to list the witnesses as XXaXbTYGrZZaZm and to enter 
the note ‘s.l.’ in the position segment".
(About the position of scholia, like 'interlinear' etc.).
More interestingly and explicitly, later on - in the same page - 
Mastronarde writes:
"The apparatus criticus is an area in which I have decided not to use 
the TEI mechanisms for apparatus criticus readings and variants, because 
in a project of this kind it seems to me that it would involve an 
unjustifiably large overhead of markup. I believe the information 
familiar to those who know how to read the apparatus criticus of a 
classical text can be provided in textual segments. This does mean that 
one will not be able to take my XML document and process it to produce a 
text that reflects the textual choices and errors of a particular 
witness, which probably would be possible with a more elaborate markup 
of readings and witnesses with pointers to specific words in the text. 
Such a project would require more personnel and a much larger budget, 
and I don’t think the benefit would be worth the cost".

The main point here is that, as Mastronard says, this editions is meant 
to be "read" (in fact the user can choose among different 'views' 
including different layers of textual materials), and would require 
further processing to become a "real" digital scholarly edition, 
handling variants and witnesses automatically. In other words, the 
modelling behind this online edition mirrors a traditional print edition 
of scholia, rather than representing the textual variance with a digital 
paradigm. The choice of the electronic form, as explained in 
http://euripidesscholia.org/EurSchGoals.html (Project Goals: "Other 
goals of this project are related to exploiting the possibilities of a 
digital format"), is mostly due to Open Access and expandibility 
reasons. The latter reasons are highly admirable in themselves (and I 
most certainly support Open Access and believe in modularity and 
interoperability). My question, however, is: may this excellent 
philological work be also defined a *digital* scholarly edition?

Some interesting reflections I may recall right now on when an edition 
qualifies as 'digital' are:
1) Robinson, P. (2006), Electronic Textual Editing: The Canterbury Tales 
and other Medieval Texts, in Lou Burnard; Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe & 
John Unsworth, ed., 'Electronic Textual Editing', Modern Language 
Association of America 
2) Bodard, G. & Garcés, J. (2009), Open Source Critical Editions: A 
Rationale, in Marilyn Deegan & Kathryn Sutherland, ed., 'Text Editing, 
Print, and the Digital World', Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 83-98;
3) The work of Patrick Sahle: check out http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ahz26/

What do you digital classicists think?


More information about the Humanist mailing list