Text Rewired:

Editing the Past in the Digital Way

By Susanna Allés Torrent / @sallesto / Columbia University

Follow the presentation at: http://dh-laic.com/susanna/Text-Rewired/
A showcase prototype: http://susannalles.github.io/Vitae/

Plan of the talk

  1. The dawn of a project:
    • Historical Context
    • Types & Proceudres in DSE
    • Traditional system goes digital
  2. Wiring the text with a sustainable practice

1. The Dawn of a project

1.1. Historical Context

  • Vitae Illustrium Virorum or The Lives of Extraordinary Men: biographies written in Latin by Italian humanists (Leonardo Bruni, Guarino Veronese, Donato Acciaiuoli) and translated by the Spaniard Alfonso de Palencia at the end of the XVth century
  • Study of Cultural Reception through Translations

1.1. Historical Context (2)

Textual Tradition:

  • The Italian-Latin Text: Plutarchus, Vitae illustrium virorum
    • First published: J. A. Campanus (ed.), Uldaricus Gallus (Ulrich Han), Roma ca. 1470 (editio princeps)
    • Reprint: Adolf Rusch, Strasburg ca. 1471
    • Edition used by the translator: Nicolaus Jenson, Venice 1478
  • Spanish Translation:
    • Ed. Cuatro compañeros alemanes, Sevilla 1491


Format of the Print Edition (2015)

Format of the Print Edition (2015)

1.2. Types & Procedures in DSE

Text, Editing, and the Digital

  1. The centrality of the text in Humanities
  2. Text as Data
  3. Good Health of Textual Scholarship
    and Digital Scholarly Editions

1.2. Types & Procedures in DSE

First of all, what is a Digital Scholarly Edition (DSE)?

  • Digital source + Digital Outcome (ex. Online Publication)
  • Digitized Editions vs Digital Edition
  • DSE as a "much-larger-scale text archive" (MLA 2015)

“ A digital edition can not be printed without a loss of information and/or functionality. The digital edition is guided by a different paradigm. ”
P. Sahle 2008

Example: a digital Edition that "cannot be printed without a loss of information and/or functionality"

Editorial models

  • Social Editions
  • Crowdsourcing Editions
  • Phylogenetic
  • Paradigmatic Editions (Pierazzo 2014)

Down arrow

Social Editions

Use of Wikibooks, Twitter, blogs, social media spaces:

Crowdsourcing Editions

Users contribute with new content:


Application of philogenetic algorithms to group familly witnesses

Paradigmatic editions

(1 witness)

Digital Critical Editions
(more than 1 witness)

  • Based on a Source-Output Model
  • The Editor is the encoder

Source-Output Model

  • Extensible Markup Language + TEI

Digital workflow

  1. Data Modelling (conceptual / formal model)
  2. Transcription and Encoding
  3. Publishing
  4. Digital Editing Infrastructure

1.3. The traditional system goes digital

  1. Recensio
    • Fontes criticae
    • Collatio Codicum
    • Examinatio and Selectio
    • Constitutio stemmatis
  2. Constitutio Textus
    • Examinatio and Selectio
    • Emendatio
    • Dispositio Textus
    • Apparatus Criticus
    • Proofreading
  3. [Publication]

For each step a digital practice

Steps Process Sample tools
1. Recensio
    Fontes criticae Gathering, management,description (metadata) for manuscripts Online Databases
    Collatio Codicum Algorithmic collation of witnesses CollateX, Juxta 1
    Constitutio Stemmatis Digital Stemmatology (phylogenetic & cladistic algorithms)
2. Constitutio textus
    Examinatio & Selectio Text Encoding Tex Encoding Initiative
    Emendatio Text Encoding Tex Encoding Initiative
    Dispositio Textus Design of the Web Interface
    Apparatus Criticus ? ?
    Proofreading ? ?
3. Publication ? Boilerplate, Version Machine2, TAPAS

Last stages of publication

2. Rewiring the text with a digital practice

XPMethods: Experimental Methods for the Humanities

2. Rewiring the text with a digital practice

    The must have:
  1. Minimal, standard, and low cost technologies (e.g. plain text, XML, HTML)
  2. Scalability (e.g. GitHub)
  3. Reuse (e.g. front-end framework; Jekyll site generator layout 1, layout 2) and reproducibility
  4. Collaboration
  5. Open SourceCode in GitHub

Publishing & Digital Editing Infrastructure