Monthly Archives: June 2011

Methodical methodologies

Doug Knox’s comment on my post about Encoding and Interpretation sent me to Stephen Ramsay’s paper “The Meandering through Textuality Challenge” (MLA, 2011).

Ramsay investigates the “digging into data” metaphor — widely used in the DH community because of its formalized support and recognition across multiple funding bodies. But this metaphor suffers (Ramsay writes) from what Neal Stephenson calls “metaphor shear“: essentially, we take it too literally.

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Encoding (and) Interpretation

Is encoding text an act of literary interpretation, or of pattern recognition? Either way, is it quantifiable? And if so, can a computer do it as readily as a human reader?

Those are just a few of my questions after a week-long course in text encoding at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2011, with the wonderful Julia Flanders from the Brown University Women Writers Project, Doug Knox from the Newberry Library, and Melanie Chernyk from the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab at the University of Victoria. We learned how to encode texts in TEI. That means taking texts that look like this —

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