Friday, December 4, 2009

Launch of Harpur Website

Although there’s not much there yet I launched the Harpur Archive test website last weekend. It is a Joomla installation and in it I intend to build all the technology from the Alpha wiki prototype, and a new version of nmerge. In short, I will try to build reusable and easy to use Joomla components and experiment with them there. So if you are interested, watch this space.

Markup Inadequacy Paper

While I’m on the subject of news I submitted on the 13th of November a long paper (9,000 words) to Literary and Linguistic Computing entitled: ‘The Inadequacy of Embedded Markup for Cultural Heritage Texts’. It’s provocative, and it’s meant to be. I am basically calling the establishment’s bluff that they dare try to stop this. I think we’ve gone on quite long enough with an inadequate means of recording our historical texts in digital form. So this is my attempt to make it stop. Here’s the abstract:

Embedded generalized markup, as applied by digital humanists to the recording and studying of our textual cultural heritage, suffers from a number of serious technical drawbacks. As a result of its evolution from early printer control languages, generalized markup can only express a document’s ‘logical’ structure via a repertoire of permissible printed format structures. In addition to the well-researched overlap problem, the embedding of markup codes into texts that never had them when written leads to a number of further difficulties: the inclusion of potentially obsolescent technical and subjective information into texts that are supposed to be archivable for the long term, the manual encoding of information that could be better computed automatically, and the obscuring of the text by highly complex technical data. Many of these problems can be alleviated by asserting a separation between the versions of which many cultural heritage texts are composed, and their content. In this way the complex interconnections between versions can be handled automatically, leaving only simple markup for individual versions to be handled by the user.

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