Elena Pierazzo, A rationale of digital documentary editions

Publishing the diplomatic edition of a document on the web instead of in print implies a series of methodological and practical changes in the nature of the published text and in the operations to be performed by the editors. For print the choice of which features to include in the transcription is limited largely by the limits of the publishing technology. In contrast, the digital medium has proved to be much more permissive and so editors need new scholarly guidelines to establish ‘where to stop’. This article discusses a list of criteria and parameters for choosing which features to include in transcriptions. It also sketches the theoretical implications which result from the change of medium and technology. It is argued that the very definition of ‘diplomatic edition’ needs to be substantially revised if the edition is published on the web. Even more importantly, the discussion argues for the existence of a new editorial object which is generated by the changed conditions: a new publication form called the ‘digital documentary edition’ which is composed of the source, the outputs and the tools able to produce and display them.

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