Desmond Schmidt, The Current State of the Digital Scholarly Edition and Three Challenges

An examination of the leading DSEs on the Web reveals that it is moving away from providing a reliable text for scholarly purposes to a collection of interactive tools that facilitate the kinds of queries scholars wish to make about texts. Over the past 16 years not as much progress in the development of the DSE has been achieved as might have been expected during a time of significant developments in interactive media on the Web. Leading DSEs have established a suite of seven interactive components: 1. Text and facsimile side by side 2. A timeline of events in the life of the author 3. Side by side textual comparison 4. Table view (stacking of variants analogous to the critical apparatus) 5. Searching 6. Manuscript viewer 7. Annotations. Although there exist several editions that display a number of these features, generic tools for creating DSEs have not yet implemented them. To break out of this limitation three problems need first be overcome: 1. The bias inherent in current approaches to encoding the document at the expense of the work; 2. The achievement of true interoperability of texts and tools 3. The pending obsolescence of the main encoding format XML. While the design and composition of the modern DSE has been broadly mapped out over the past 30 years, its future development must take account of the limitations encountered in reaching this goal.

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