I guess I’m officially a nerd, because TEI is exciting. Until this reading, I had never heard of SGML, much less that HTML originated from it. Since TEI is also a form of SGML, it and HTML must be siblings, or at least cousins (although HTML sounds like the black sheep of the SGML family). Fun! I also appreciate the explanation of XML, as I wasn’t really sure what it is. My only complaints about the reading were all the broken links (which made it hard to understand some of the instructions, since they referred to documents that aren’t there anymore), the typos, and the very 1990’s frame formatting. I’m guessing “A Very Gentle Introduction” is also very old in computer years.
I was interested in the idea that “preservation is a key problem for an emerging digital culture,” something I hadn’t really considered before this class. Our discussions on bitrot and other issues of digital deterioration have helped make me more aware of the problem, but I’m still a bit stuck in the mindset of “going digital means preserving.” Part of my impetus for my barrage balloon DH project is to preserve original photos and other balloon-related memorabilia in digital scans and to disseminate them online. Sharing the photos I collect is still best accomplished digitally, but could the actual photographs be better preserved than the digital images I make of them, despite the threat of fire, acid, vermin, etc.? To bring my questions more in line with textual documents, what about my very fragile copy of the World War II children’s book Boo-Boo the Barrage Balloon? What can TEI do for Boo-Boo and his compatriots Blossom and Bulgy?
After reading about TEI’s encoding options for various text elements, I can guess that TEI would let me encode the text of Boo-Boo the Barrage Balloon with indicators of quotations and formatting, milestone events (like when Boo-Boo saves London from the Nazis), a bibliography, and a header about the book itself. (Incidentally, I appreciate Mueller’s inclusion of hyperlinks in his TeiXBaby language to update TEI for the Web.) I could then use CSS to format the text of Boo-Boo to make it approximate the text in the book – though without the charming illustrations. Once I get the hang of TEI, I might take a stab at encoding Boo-Boo. I doubt he will be of much interest to scholars, but it will give me some practice!
Speaking of encoding, the reading’s instructions for encoding TEI were a bit confusing to me, although familiarity with HTML helps (especially with containers like <head>, <div>, and <p>, which are the same in HTML). I expect it will make more sense once I actually start encoding, and I’ll learn the language as I go. I can’t wait to get started!