annotation of texts in the digital realm

One of the perennial jobs of humanists is the annotation of older (usually canonical) texts with notes and information for readers about cultural context, interpretive perspectives, grammatical elucidations, etc. I am a classicist interested in commentary on ancient texts presented digitally, but the issue of annotation, it seems to me, extends well beyond that discipline. The wikis on the novels of Thomas Pynchon,  Open Utopia, are Pocket Torah are a few non-classical examples. Some questions I would like to discuss (and some of these are more relevant to classical texts):

1) how is the content supposed to be created? Is it to be crowdsourced? Machine generated through encoding of scholarly knowledge into the text through XML? Single author? Some combination of these? 2) What kind of annotations do we need?  Explicate every proper name and geographical reference? Audio recordings?  Interviews with the editor?  User-generated content? Word clouds and graphs of relationships between characters? Data from computational linguistics? Is more always better? 3) What is the product supposed to look like? A single long page? Multiple frames in one page? Several tabs on one page? Hyperlinks on every word? Side bars? Pop-up windows? User-comment features? Embedded players? What is the role of visual design? How exactly is all the information supposed to be delivered to the user in a way that will serve the user’s needs and is attractive, rather than bewildering?

Categories: General, Proceedings of THATCamp |
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About francese

I am a classicist specializing in Latin literature. I also teach Greek and various courses in classical civilization. I am primarily interested in finding good digital formats for commentaries on classical works. But I also use technology a fair bit in my language classes, so language pedagogy is a big focus for me as well. My technology experience is all haphazard and ad hoc (ad hack?). I have done a lot with Mediawiki, and WordPress, but the project I direct is migrating to Drupal. I know nothing about TEI, cannot tie my shoes in html. For more technical stuff I collaborate with the great IT folks at Dickinson. But I'm open to learning more about anything that will make our project succeed. I have been collaborating with students for several years on digital humanities projects, and am curious to see what models are out there to make this work as well as possible.

3 Responses to annotation of texts in the digital realm

  1. I’d be interested in this session, especially thinking about it from the user’s point of view and as a way to engage the general public. Two relevant pieces came out of the “Shape of Things to Come” conference on online humanities scholarship: Jerome McGann, Sustainability: The Elephant in the Room and Greg Crane, Give us editors! Re-inventing the edition and re-thinking the humanities.

  2. This sound like a fun discussion topic!

  3. Profile photo of francese francese says:

    Thanks so much for those links, Rebecca, very helpful.

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