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Journal Articles Variants: the Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship Year : 2021

Editing for Man and Machine

Anne Baillot


The digital edition Letters and Texts (http://tei.ibi.hu-berlin.de/berliner-intellektuelle/?en) was from its very beginning conceived to offer the quality of a scholarly edition as well as reader-friendly text presentation for a non-scholarly audience. For each document, both a diplomatic transcription and a reading version are being generated on the basis of the same TEI document. The reading version does not contain all the additions, deletions and line breaks and hence offers a linearly readable text. Additionally, a scan of the manuscript page is presented on the same level as the transcription. Metadata, entities and XML-document are also available on that same display level. While all of these displays are available, the standard view offered in the edition is that of a scan of the manuscript on the left side and the diplomatic transcription on the right side. By offering this view of the text first, the edition engages the reader to a predetermined reading - one that, in many ways, remains in the German editorial tradition. But the kind of information it transports is not the same as what print facsimile editions do. While digital editions do a complex work in establishing the chronology of text genesis (which is made necessary by the TEI-encoding, while a print facsimile edition is not compelled to produce this kind of analysis), there is a tendency not to render all glyphs and signs with the same precision as print facsimile editions do. The reader, so the editors’ assumption, should be able to establish the connection between the scan and the transcription by his/herself. On the one hand, editors of scholarly digital editions tend, like all editors, to confront their reader with their own image. On the other hand, they try to break away from the page format, without being able to do so completely, especially in the case of editions involving scans of originals. Addressing both these challenges is not the sole difficulty. A digital edition is not only (maybe not even primarily) for humans to read, but for them to search in, through links and search interfaces. Information connection is another level of reading for which it is not so easy to anticipate how the reader will approach it – on that level too, directing one’s reader towards one’s own interpretation of the text is not necessarily helpful. But which other options do we have? Finally, scholarly digital editions address computers - at least those editions that put their XML source code at disposal. When they do so, they are built for distant reading as well as close reading. How is it possible to address all of these readers and forms of reading? This paper presents the work that has been done in the context of the digital edition Letters and texts to that aim and it shows that asking oneself for whom one edits is a key to defining one’s own editorial hermeneutics.
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Dates and versions

halshs-01233380 , version 1 (25-11-2015)


Attribution - CC BY 4.0


  • HAL Id : halshs-01233380 , version 1


Anne Baillot, Anna Busch. Editing for Man and Machine: Digital Scholarly Editions and their Users. Variants: the Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship, 2021, Variants (Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship), 15-16. ⟨halshs-01233380⟩
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