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Text Encoding for Interchange: Myths and Realities

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  1. Text Encoding for Interchange: Myths and Realities Lou Burnard Oxford University Computing Services Yesterday's Information Tomorrow?

  2. We live in interesting times • Traditional academic goals • sharing and exchange of information • creation of re-usable resources • dual focus on teaching and research • Digital technologies can contribute to these traditional goals, not subvert them

  3. Digital technologies offer opportunities… • integration of disparate sources • texts, commentaries, sources, variations… • multimedia, manuscripts, transcriptions, metadata… • a new way of preservation • media disappear, data remain • "multiplication beyond the reach of accident" • a huge expansion of accessibility • quantitative • qualitatitive

  4. .…and challenges • integration of disparate sources • Different user communities have different -- and sometimes contradictory -- agendas and priorities • a new way of preservation • The business model is unclear • The technical problems may be insuperable • a huge expansion of accessibility • Depends on huge expansion of metadata provision • Both quantitative and qualitative expansion

  5. Academia offers the technical world: • a range of interesting technical problems • a new raison d’ être: conservation of cultural heritage … and also of contemporary culture • some tried and tested techniques • hermeneutics/semiotics • linguistic insights • robust and modular encoding schemes

  6. Resources digital resources encoding abstract model analysis

  7. Making digital resources • Texts are more than simply sequences of glyphs • They have structure and context • They also have multiple readings • Encoding or markup provides a means of making such readings explicit • only that which is explicit can be digitally processed • Not all resources are textual – but they all require reading.

  8. Quick recap: what’s markup for? • Markup is a way of making explicit the distinctions we want a computer to make when it processes a string of bytes (aka a text) • It’s a way of naming and identifying the parts of a document in a controlled way • It’s (usually) more useful to markup what things are than what they look like (or should look like)

  9. What’s the point of markup? • To make explicit (for a machine) what is implicit (to a person) • To add value by multiple annotations • To facilitate re-use of digital resources • In different contexts • In different formats • For different audiences

  10. XML: what it is and why you should care • XML is a generic markup language • It simplifies the representation of structured data as linear character strings • XML looks like HTML, except that:- • XML is extensible • XML must be well-formed • XML can be validated • XML is application-, platform-, and vendor- independent • XML empowers the content provider and facilitates data integration

  11. XML concepts: a review • an XML object is composed of identifiable objects or elements • elements have a type (name, or GI) • a textual grammar (a schema) may be defined which specifies • what elements exist • how they may be combined • elements also bear descriptive named attributes • an XML object contains a single hierarchy of elements • But elements may reference other elements in arbitrary ways

  12. For example: • a newspaper story consists of metadata fields, followed by a headline, and a series of paragraphs, which may contain proper names or just text • it also has an identifier and a language • themetadata fields include a date, a source, and one or more keywords

  13. metadatafields story The Guardian, July 1, 1997, Empire, Hong Kong A last hurrah and an empire closes down With a clenched-jaw nod from the Prince of Wales, a last rendition of God Save the Queen, and a wind machine to keep the Union flag flying for a final 16 minutes of indoor pomp... headline paragraph … like this <story><metadata><source>The Guardian</source><date> July 1, 997</date><keywords><term> Empire</term><term> Hong Kong</term></keywords></metadata> <body><div><head>A last hurrah and an empire closes down</head> <p>With a clenched-jaw nod from the <name>Prince of Wales</name>, a last rendition of <title>God Save the Queen</title>, and a wind machine to keep the Union flag flying for a final 16 minutes of indoor pomp</p>...</body></story>

  14. … or like this <documentLikeObject> <metadata> …</metadata> <sound URI=“…”/> <image URI=“…”/> <transcription URI=“…”/> </documentLikeObject>

  15. Encoding implies making decisions We may wish to allow for many views of what a resource “is” but avoid “markup voodoo” Necessarily, there must be compromise what is needed now what might be needed some time

  16. The Beowulf Manuscript MS Cotton Vitellius A xv

  17. Printed version (Wrenn,1953) Hwæt we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum þeod-cyninga þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon. Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah; egsode Eorle, syððan ærest wearð feasceaft funden. He þæs frofre gebad…

  18. One encoding… <lg><l>Hwæt we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum</l> <l>þeod-cyninga þrym gefrunon,</l> <l>hu đa æþelingas ellen fremedon.<l></lg> <lg><l>Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,</l> <l>monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah; </l> <l>egsode Eorle, syđđan ærest wearþ</l> <l>feasceaft funden. He þæs frofre gebad </l> ...

  19. … another encoding <hi rend=‘caps’>&H;&Wyn;ÆT &Wyn;E GARDE</hi><lb/>na in gear-dagum þeod cyninga<lb/> þrym gefrunon hu đa æþelinga&s; ellen<lb/> fremedon. oft Scyld Scefing sceaþe<add>na</add><lb/>þreatum, moneg<expan>um</expan> mæ;gþum meodo-setla <lb/> of<damage desc=‘blot’/>teah egsode <sic corr=‘Eorle’>eorl</sic> syđđan ærest wearþ<lb/> feasceaft funden...

  20. …yet another encoding <figure> <!-- detailed description of digital image --> </figure> <sourceDesc> <!-- detailed description of original source--> </sourceDesc> <publicationStmt> <!– access control metadata --> </publicationStmt> <classCode> <!– descriptive metadata --> </classCode> <!– etc -->

  21. Where is XML used? in well-defined application areas b2b news stories chemical modelling by well-defined user communities EAD electronic editors

  22. XML: the very next thing XML defines a simple syntax for encoding linearized hierarchic structures which is extensible and verifiable XML is being taken up enthusiastically as a way of adding semantics to the web (RDF, Topic Maps) standardizing application interfaces (SMIL, SOAP) .. even though XML is semantics-free

  23. Reality check: what (exactly) is markup? markup makes explicit a theory about some aspect of a document some theories are more useful or generalizable than others … so no markup language can reasonably claim to be exhaustive … so are we doomed to a further confusion of tongues?

  24. The risks of fragmentation If we have… historical records using a “historical markup language” linguistic data using a “linguistic markup language” illustrations using a “visual markup language” How will we integrate these resources? Why did we get into this business?

  25. Once upon a time long ago in a far away galaxy ….

  26. 1987: Vassar College Conference The Text Encoding Initiative

  27. We’ve been here before… Loomings “CALL me Ishmael. Some years ago --- never mind how long precisely--- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world” Good news: there is software capable of translating amongst 400 different encoding formats Bad news: there ARE 400 different encoding formats… |chap1 <C 1> Loomings \chapter \chapter[1]{Loomings} :h1.1. Loomings MOBY001001LOOMINGS |C1 .chapter Loomings .cp;.sp 6 a;.ce .bd 1. Loomings ~x

  28. Bad news: there ARE 400 different encoding formats… We’ve been here before… Loomings “CALL me Ishmael. Some years ago --- never mind how long precisely--- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world” |chap1 <C 1> Loomings \chapter \chapter[1]{Loomings} :h1.1. Loomings MOBY001001LOOMINGS |C1 .chapter Loomings .cp;.sp 6 a;.ce .bd 1. Loomings ~x Good news: you can get a program that converts among 300 file formats

  29. Information Interchange (1) A B E C D 20 translations required (n2-n)

  30. Information Interchange (2) A CommonInterchangeStandard B E C D 10 translations required (2n)

  31. The T E what? Originally, a research project within the humanities Sponsored by ALLC, ACH, ACL Funded 1990-1994 by US NEH, EU LE Programme et al Major influences digital libraries and text collections language corpora scholarly datasets Now an international membership consortium incorporated Jan 2001 http://www.tei-c.org

  32. Goals of the TEI interchange and integration of scholarly data support for all texts, in all languages, from all periods guidance for the perplexed: what to encode hence, a user-driven codification of existing best practice assistance for the specialist:how to encode hence, a loose framework into which unpredictable extensions can be fitted

  33. Legacy of the TEI The TEI Guidelines: a comprehensive way of looking at what texts are and how to organize them Expressed as a very large set of c. 600 element definitions, tied into a rather loose DTD A mechanism for customization and specialization of the above Tutorials, Guides,codification of shared practice etc.

  34. Who uses TEI? digital libraries and text collections HTI, UVA, OTA, BiMiCesa, CRILet ... linguistic corpora EAGLES, BNC, MULTEX, Silfide … research projects Women Writers Project, Model Editions Partnership, Lorelei Projekt, … publishers – both web and otherwise NLR, OUCS, … http://www.tei-c.org/Applications/

  35. Current TEI activity (1) Annual Members Meetings (since Nov 2001) Annually elected TEI Technical Council (since January 2002) XML revision (P4X) published in print, June 2002 Project on SGML-XML conversion (completed 2003) Next major revision (TEI P5) due mid 2004 Special Interest Groups set up end 2003 http://www.tei-c.org/Services/order/

  36. TEI P5 New work groups on character set issues: convergence with Unicode manuscript description hyperlinking/W3C standards Work in progress SGML/XML conversion Software usability and tools Training Funding problems and opportunities

  37. The scope of “intelligent” markup orthographic transcription links to digital recordings, images… proper nouns, dates, times, etc. part-of-speech and morphological tagging syntactic analysis discourse analysis cross references to other material on the topic meta-textual status (correction etc) editorial commentary and annotation etc., etc., etc. How can all these things co-exist?

  38. Frequently Answered Questions re-use of common text for multiple purposes scholarly edition, school edition, speaking edition alignment of transcription with sound image multiple annotations of a common text additive alternative authoring!

  39. Fortunately, the TEI was designed for scholarly use all texts are alike -- but every text is different multiple perspectives are the norm not one size fits all but who would you like to be today? one construct, many views each view a selection from the whole

  40. The TEI solution: modularization a (very) large number of element and attribute definitions organized as tagsets aka modules (core, base, additional, or auxiliary) grouped into classes combined according to a defined procedure (the pizza model) which permits controlled extension and modification http://www.tei-c.org/pizza.html

  41. What use is a DTD? A DTD is very useful at data preparation time (e.g. to enforce consistency), but redundant at other times If a document is well-formed, its DTD can be (almost) entirely recreated from it. DTDs don't allow you to specify much by the way of content validation Unlike other parts of the XML family, DTDs are not expressed in XML The XML Schema Language addresses these issues, and may eventually replace the DTD entirely... maybe.

  42. DTD : what does it really mean? To get the best out of XML, you need two kinds of DTD: document type declaration: elements, attributes, entities, notations (syntactic constraints) document type definition: usage and meaning constraints on the foregoing Published specifications (if you can find them) for XML DTDs usually combine the two, hence they lack modularity The TEI model is to provide definitions which can be fitted to multiple declarations

  43. TEI as an interlingua TEI defines generic classes of textual object <div>, <ab>, <seg> rather than chapter, paragraph, metaphor Modification allows these to be more tightly constrained without loss of generality <metaphor TEIform=“seg”>fresh ideas</metaphor> Cf architectural forms

  44. SGML, XML, and … The TEI originally used SGML for pragmatic reasons existing standard, widely used for theoretical reasons declarative, verifiable expressive power adequate to needs of research It is now re-expressed in XML…

  45. … after XML? In fact, the TEI expresses an abstract model, which can be represented in SGML or XML A TEI DTD can be constructed in either. Work on generating Relax or W3C Schemas from the same source is ongoing This will enable us to implement better TEI validation

  46. Why bother? The TEI is a well-known reference point Using the TEI enables sharing of data and resources shared modular software development lower learning curve and reduced training costs The TEI is stable, rigorous, and well-documented The TEI is also flexible, customizable, and extensible in documented ways Its architectural approach offers a good practical compromise between generality and implementability

  47. Transmitting the hermeneutic scholarship depends on continuity it is not enough to preserve the bytes of an encoding there must also be a continuity of comprehension: the encoding must be self-descriptive

  48. The wider picture TEI is not just about exchanging data between machines It's also about communication between humans TEI/XML is not just about the web It's about information in general TEI is not just about technology It's about the relationship between content creators and software developers It’s also about scholarship