The (in)adequacies of markup

May 21st, 2010 |

(Last minute session idea)

This discussion comes around every few years, most recently on the Humanist list, starting here and continuing for many posts. The essence of it is an argument over whether embedding markup (à la TEI XML) in texts is a theoretically sound way of digitally publishing texts or whether “standoff” markup that points at parts of a (probably plain text) document would be better.

Anyway, if there are any text hackers out there interested in looking at the state of play in document markup and seeing whether we can come to any useful conclusions or hack something together or make plans to hack something together, let me know.

Comments Feed

4 Responses to “The (in)adequacies of markup”

  1. A. Soroka Says:


    Are you suggesting a practical discussion about how to overlay and weave commentaries and supercommentaries in an egalitarian fashion, presumably using markup tech? I’m not inclined to wade into any kind of debate over the “purity of the turf”, but I’d love to play with some ideas about how we could bum-rush the privileged position of the encoder of digital text.

  2. Hugh Cayless Says:

    Hi Adam,

    I really only care about what’s practical. The theoretical arguments are interesting but weighted down by ideology. Maybe it’s worth taking another look at where we are technically though.

  3. LucidWanderer Says:

    I’m actually in favor of the standoff markup system for the reason that as long as the text itself is versioned and stable, then having markup actually necesitates copying the source to layer in multiple different markups. The initial purpose of markups is to create a very specific kind of typographical data — the way the original was typeset, any page breaks.

    I think the standoff markup approach has the following advantages:

    1. It can be generalized to media which cannot be edited with xml. You can add a timecode and thus attach metadata to a video. You can attach a logical code and somehow cite/analyze/encode an interactive work.

    2. It allows for violations of nested hierarchy. Properly formatted XML files are trees; not all ideas or classifications in documents can be modeled by a tree.

    3. It allows for maintenance of sources in a central location, and allows for only the most important (i.e. the extra data) to be kept in a database. A similar xml database would contain a great deal of redundancy.

    4. Offsets into a text file are simple, and can even be used to handle changes between different versions by the utilization of references to stanzas or paragraphs.

  4. bowerbird Says:

    there’s another choice — zen markup.

    it’s light markup that is so “light” that
    it’s nearly invisible.

    it converts out to .html and .pdf, but
    its simple structure also means that
    viewer-apps and authoring-tools can
    be programmed for it quite easily…



  • Recent Comments

    THATCampers can use the blog and comments to talk about session ideas. Follow along by subscribing to the comments feed and to the blog feed!

    • thuyanh: A friend and I have actually made a video response that defends the “dumbest generation” and we...
    • Steven Hayes: Hi, just read your “project retrain” description as part of my background reading for...
    • Peter: Just curious: Is there a version of the National Register Nomination Form in some kind of database format,...
    • Samuel Teshale Derbe: This is excactly what I have been looking for.I have been recently invited to contribute to a...
    • plr articles: Just added more knowledge to my “library-head” :D
  • Twitter

    Here's what others are saying about THATCamp on Twitter

    • No items

    All Posts

  • THATCamp Prime Collaborative Documents
  • THATCamp Prime evaluation
  • New session: The THATCamp Movement
  • THATCamp on Flickr
  • Visualizing Subjectivity
  • More Twitter Visualizations
  • Remixing Academia
  • What THATCampers have been tweeting about (pre-camp)
  • Late to the Stage: Performing Queries
  • Humanist Readable Documentation
  • Zen Scavenger Hunt
  • The (in)adequacies of markup
  • One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy
  • Analogizing the Sciences
  • Digital Literacy for the Dumbest Generation
  • Teaching Students Transferable Skills
  • Modest Proposals from a Digital Novice
  • Creative data visualizations
  • OpenStreetMap for Mapping of Historical Sites
  • soft circuits
  • Mostly Hack…
  • A Contextual Engagement
  • ARGs, Archives, and Digital Scholarship
  • Playing With the Past: Pick One of Three
  • DH centers as hackerspaces
  • All Courseware Sucks
  • HTML5
  • Dude, I Just Colleagued My Dean
  • The Future of Interdisciplinary Digital Cultural Heritage Curriculum (oh yeah, and games as well)
  • Project "Develop Self-Paced Open Access DH Curriculum for Mid-Career Scholars Otherwise Untrained"
  • what have you done for us lately?
  • Digital Storytelling: Balancing Content and Skill
  • Visualizing text: theory and practice
  • Plays Well With Others
  • Citing a geospatial hootenanny
  • Reimagining the National Register Nomination Form
  • documentation: what's in it for us?
  • Sharing the work
  • Digital Humanities Now 2.0 and New Models for Journals
  • Finding a Successor to Paper and Print
  • "Writing Space"
  • From Scratch
  • Cultivating Digital Skills and New Learning Spaces
  • Surveying the Digital Landscape Once Again
  • Building and designing projects for long term preservation
  • Collecting the Digital Story: Omeka and the New Media Narrative
  • Design Patterns for DH Projects
  • Chronicling America: They gave us an API. What do we do now?
  • Social Media and the History Non-Profit
  • THATCamp-in-a-Box
  • Teaching Collaboration
  • Geolocation, Archives, and Emulators (not all at once)
  • The Sound of Drafting
  • The Schlegel Blitz ("Only connect…")
  • Text Mining Scarce Sources
  • Applying open source methodology and economics to academia
  • What I'd Most Like to Do or Discuss
  • Hacking ethics for edupunks
  • Mobile technology and the humanities
  • Audiences and Arguments for Digital History
  • Open Peer Review
  • Who Wants To Be A Hacker?
  • Please advise
  • Greetings from the new Regional THATCamp Coordinator!
  • 2010 Applications Open!