[NTG-context] Critical Editions?

Jean-Pierre Delange adeimantos at free.fr
Thu Jan 6 18:47:19 CET 2022

Le 06/01/2022 à 17:57, Pablo Rodriguez via ntg-context a écrit :
> On 1/5/22 12:52 PM, hanneder--- via ntg-context wrote:
>> Dear critical edition experts,
>> the examples given in ConTeXt_Test_Footnote-ComplexMedieval.pdf and
>>   the other posts are really answering my questions. Everything seems
>> to be already there and if there were a Wiki on critical editions I
>> would perhaps have not even asked.
> The wiki is a cooperative effort. Nothing prevents you from starting a
> new article on critical editions at the ConTeXt Garden
> (https://wiki.contextgarden.net).
> If you put some samples, other users may extend you article (again, this
> is a cooperative effort).
>> As far as I see, no ConTeXt input format for critical editions is
>> needed, but since the topic is being discussed -
> This should be no big surprise: Knuth developed TeX as a typesetting
> programming language, not mainly as an input format.
> Once you get used to it, TeX (or ConTeXt) may be easier for you as input
> format. But it makes sense that as input format, ConTeXt cannot be
> future–proof in that way, if it is in development.
>>> I don’t see any future in developing a ConTeXt input format for
>>> critical editions, for the following reasons:
>>> 1. Producing a print-only version (i.e. printed book) makes no sense
>>> in 2022. This is not sustainable because
>>> no-one will be able to take your edition and continue to work on it.
>>> You have to provide a digital edition as research data.
>>> 2. This digital edition has to be in a standard format that is
>>> sustainable at least for some time so it can be processed with
>>> various types of software. TEI xml has become the de facto standard.
>> I must disagree. There is no print only version any more, so the
>> first question is: Is a pdf more sustainable, or an online edition
>> (based on html etc.)? Time will tell, I guess. The same applies to
>> TEI based online editions by the way. No larger texts have been
>> edited by that method yet (in my field), many projects are being
>> worked on, but they tend not to be finished, when the project ends.
>> Some of the people actually working with both TeX and XML-based say
>> that the latter significantly slows down the collation process.
> Research (Maryanne Wolf) shows that people read way better on paper. We
> tend to forget way faster what we read on e–ink screens. Just in case
> anyone is interested
> PDF is way easier to maintain. Once you generate it, this is all to it.
> XML sources need more work to get and display data (oversimplifying the
> issue).
> In my experience, having XML sources requires learning how to generate
> PDF output from them (and how to display them online). I use Markdown
> and if I had to share my document, this would be way easier than to
> share ConTeXt source files containing text. That way, I could focus on
> the typesetting and the team could focus on the pure content (text or
> images).
> TEI may be a pain to learn and to write, but it makes sense to use it as
> input format. Or the alternative would be a light–weight markup
> language, not TeX.
>> At least in Indology books and scans are still being used. Everyone
>> is talking about online editions, data repositories etc., but the
>> reality as I experience it is not up to these expectations. One of
>> our great paleographical online tools was almost lost, since there is
>> no institutional funding for updating those systems. Even finding a
>> host for an online edition can be (and is in our case) a nightmare.
> Don’t universites host online archives for research projects?
>> In short, my solution is: printed version as in the last centuries,
>> possibly additional online edition with a shorter life span and
>> online publication of research data. This sounds great, but actually
>> we are talking mainly about the collation file, that is, the
>> TeX-input file. Not a big deal, since now this can be turned into xml
>> by ekdosis, and that's it. The mss scans are prohibited from online
>> publication by German copyright (no Indian institution will grant
>> any rights).
> I’m interested in the copyright issue.
> All I knew about German copyright law is that it protects critical
> editions (I mean, not the apparatus, but the text itself.)
> What is actually protected by German copyright in manuscript scans? The
> photograph itself? In that case, for manuscripts and works that are in
> the public domain, who is supposed to be the copyright holder?
>> Let me emphasize that I am not at all against these new
>> possibilities. I was part of an online dictionary project
>> (nws.uzi.uni-halle.de) that worked with TEI and everything else, but
>> after the threat to close down Indology in Halle (the location of the
>> dictionary), I have to finance occasional updates from our normal
>> budget (the DFG had decreed that no further funding for this project
>> was possible) and after my retirement - I have no great hopes for a
>> continuation of my post - it might become quickly useless. As long
>> as we have enough nerds who can and will do the necessary work
>> privately, we are safe.
> Maybe the wrong approach is that studies in humanities don’t need a
> strong background in computer science (programming).
> In that case, it is really hard to use computers to achieve rich and
> complex goals.
>>> 4. However, ConTeXt is wonderful for processing xml.
>>> Hence: keep the input source and the processing separate. Code in
>>> TEI xml (or a subset of it) and develop a ConTeXt stylesheet to
>>> process it.
>> I am used to TeX-code, and so I'd rather stick to that and let
>> ekdosis do the conversion, if necessary.
> A light–weight markup language for critical editions would be something
> to consider, in that case. (But it is something to be developed, if it
> makes sense at all.)
>> But in publication practice in my field, most of this is just for
>> private entertainment. Almost all publishers still expect a Word
>> file, so the tool of choice is pandoc to downgrade from TeX to docx.
>> Sorry to end on this depressing note.
> Word documents for critical editions? In that case, publishers will have
> to typeset the book themselves, won’t they?

As far as I know, some publishers in Humanities in France (e.g. 
Librairie Philosophique Vrin and many others, like Dunod) prefer that 
editor/authors provide a Word processing text (even with a special style 
sheet) than a PDF ready to print ("bon à tirer"). The "Librairie 
philosophique Vrin" has his own style sheet which give a PDF output, but 
Dunod publisher has (for example) build since 15 years an external 
working flow on a distant (and private server) : the Word text is 
revised with Word tags (title, chapter, etc.) and send to a server which 
automatically apply some XML, LateX and Perl procedures. Then the output 
is in PDF (ready to print) and HTML formats. The typessetting is made by 

But, publishing in Humanities is not, AMHO, to print a simple essay with 
6 or 12 chapters and a TOC with a backmatter bibliography. Therefore, 
even if this kind of book is rare (e.g. a text in 3 languages : Greek, 
latin, and a translation in modern language on the even page, with 
footnotes, and a commentary on the odd page, or some essay on the 
different levels of text written by Montaigne since the first edition of 
"Les essais", with the different states of text on the even page, or in 
a column, and the commentary in a parallell column or page) may be 
tricky. Pablo is right : scholars in some research fields have to learn 
computing. That's why there is sometimes a proposal to learn some 
technical language (like Tei-XML here : 
and here 

The question of funding computing tools is an issue : it is true in a 
private situation when you want to write a manuscript with versioning 
(you have to know how it works), but it is more relevant within an 
academic field of research : who wants to buy days of education for 
scholars for their learning in computing or for XML Oxygen and other tools ?

As allways, needs create tools : but it is possible in a cooperative 
spirit, as Pablo truely point it out.

> Many thanks for your insightful comments,
> Pablo
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Jean-Pierre Delange
Agrégé de philosophie
"Few discoveries are more irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas" - Lord Acton

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