[This post is cross-posted with the newly-created DiXiT Blog, on which all project participants will be posting about their research for the next three years.]
When one turns to the Pythia of our age, Google, and enters “textual editing” as a search term for images, an interesting set appear.
From left to right, they are
- The logo of the Textual Editing Framework, a framework designed to create model editors for textual notations.
- A still shot of a video of Elena Pierazzo, president of the Text Encoding Initiative Council, teaching a course on Digital Textual Editing at DH Summer School 2013 in Bern, Switzerland.
- The cover of the book Electronic Textual Editing, an anthology edited by Lou Burnard, Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, and John Unsworth.
- A student with a Macbook laptop, an external monitor, and a towering microfilm reader (presumably editing some text).
- A cropped medieval painting of a wizened old man, likely a monk, consulting a book placed on a pedestal in front of him.
These images, taken together, do a fairly good job of providing a snapshot of current debates, trends, arguments, and issues in what we broadly consider to be “digital scholarly editing.” After all, editors do something quite established (the monk & his book), often with cutting edge tools (the Textual Editing Framework, the laptop), sometimes with very old tools and materials (the microfilm reader), the results of which are often disseminated in seemingly dated forms (the scholarly collection on Electronic Textual Editing). At the same time, digital scholarly editing is a field of inquiry constantly in redefinition, in argument, and in propagation (the new media form of a video recording of a lecture devoted to changing ideas of what a scholarly edition is and can be). The manner of inquiry (querying Google) is also telling: it relies not on my personal knowledge of the field, but upon the collected “wisdom” of untold writers, image uploaders, programmers, software developers, scholars, and so on. The contours of textual editing as suggested by these images are fundamentally social.