Thursday, December 10, 2009

LLC paper accepted in record time

My LLC paper, the 9,000 word one about the inadequacy of markup for cultural heritage texts, has been accepted, exactly 30 days after it was submitted. I was expecting a wait of two years or so; this approval makes it the fastest paper I have ever had accepted. Who says the humanities are sleepy? Obviously they thought this was important enough to approve straight away. And I don't think the reviewers were bored. Unlike many papers in the field it doesn't concentrate on a small specialised area - e.g. the digitisation of one author's works, but on the digitisation of all of them. A pizza and beer tonight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Progress Table for MVD Joomla Components

As I did for nmerge I have drawn up a table for the various components of the Joomla! solution. I'll update this as each component is completed. Red means not done, yellow means partly written, orange means completely written and working but not tested, green means tested. At the current rate of progress this application will take until June to be fully finished and tested, and perhaps even that is optimistic.

The structure is that there will be one component: mvd, which will have a number of views, and one plugin:

view mvd_listView to display a list of available MVDs. Allow user to create new MVDs and delete old ones. Open MVDs for viewing in various ways.
view editversionsView to allow user to edit version information for a given MVD.
view twinView two versions of an MVD side by side.
view singleView a single version of an MVD.
view mseditEdit the source text for a version next to the relevant facsimile page. (NEW)
view singleditEdit the transcription without the accompanying facsimile.
view treeView the genealogy of the versions of an MVD as a phylogenetic tree or stemma. (NEW)
plugin_searchIndexed search plugin for all pages that require it. (NEW)
search siteAdvanced search for files, descriptions and contents. (NEW)
importVarious import options: plain text to MVD, TEI XML to MVD etc. (NEW)
exportExport an MVD to source format (e.g. XML) (NEW)

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.