Week 3: XML

This week we took a look at XML. As well, I presented the first demo…minus the demo part, since most of us were already familiar with Prezi.

Although I understand XML better now than when we started I still remain…unsure about it. It seems to be very important for making files that are accessible and self-contained (self-contained in the the sense that they contain both the primary material but also the “explanation” of that material ie. meta data). But what can XML mean to the student or individual? Is there use for it in our daily lives? What are situations that we would encounter where it would beneficial to use XML?

That said I’m still pretty freaked out by the CWRC. I found the “coding” of the letter difficult (is coding even the right word?) Will we be using it in the future?

One, perhaps slightly off topic comment from this week caught my attention. Briefly the prof mentioned how the internet has leveled the playing field in terms of authority in academics.

This made me think to this post on tumblr (quoting an article) on the same topic. The post is long, mostly full of people celebrating what the author of the article calls “The Death of Expertise” ( a misnomer I’d say if we were to really analyze what societal changes are happening).  Here is a quote, the one torn apart on tumblr, from the article.


“I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.”

–Tom Nichols


This also relates to the self-diagnosis/anti-self diagnosis movement on tumblr (oh can you tell what social platform I’m on?). Similarly this argument revolves around the question of “who really is able to make the best judgement”, in this case when it comes to diagnosing mental illness (and occasionally health). Is it the patient who with access to the DSM/internet/online diaries of other’s people’s experiences who can accurately say what they have–or can these statements only be made by a “”professional””? I’m making this into a false dichotomy, but that’s the rough gist of the situation.

But like the question of expertise of the first article it also comes across the issue of access/corruption. Corruption, for lack of a better word, represents cases whereby the institutional authority either was ignorant, biased, bigoted, etc. and essentially abused their authority. Access in the diagnosis topic refers to how many people (ie. in the states) cannot access a psychiatric diagnosis (because $$$). Access also refers to people not/now having access to academia.

It was a small comment in class but I think a very big thing the internet has done to change power structures in society (if those power structure are really being changed).

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Marking up &lt:persname key=”Zimmerman, Robert Allen (1941-)>Dylan<\persname>

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a major set of guidelines developed by the digital humanities community for encoding existing texts using XML. Most scholarly digital editoring projects encoding existing manuscripts or printed texts use the TEI schema to encode the materials in digital form. Text markup or encoding is one way, many digital humanists would argue, of paying close attention to a text, and indeed of engaging with questions about the nature of the text and textuality.

The video found here encodes a Bob Dylan song using the TEI.

Watch (and hopefully enjoy!) the video.

Then rewatch the video and do the following short assignment to test your understanding of what is going on:

Identify a range of different kinds of semantic markup in the video and give an example of each of the following:

  • a literary technique
  • a grammatical form
  • an editorial decision
  • an editorial note
  • an example of humourous tagging
  • what is being encoded here: the vocals or the text you can see in the video?

Note anything that strikes you as interesting about the markup or the overall project.
Record at least part of your answers in responses to this post (and note the timestamp in the video where the tagging instances occur) so we can discuss them. Bring your full list of responses to class.