Desmond Schmidt, The Role of Markup in the Digital Humanities

The digital humanities are growing rapidly in response to a rise in Internet use. What humanists mostly work on, and which forms much of the contents of our growing repositories, are digital surrogates of originally analog artefacts. But is the data model upon which many of those surrogates are based – embedded markup – adequate for the task? Or does it in fact inhibit reusability and flexibility? To enhance interoperability of resources and tools, some changes to the standard markup model are needed. Markup could be removed from the text and stored in standoff form. The versions of which many cultural heritage texts are composed could also be represented externally, and computed automatically. These changes would not disrupt existing data representations, which could be imported without significant data loss. They would also enhance automation and ease the increasing burden on the modern digital humanist.

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