Response to James Cummings article

“The mission of the Text Encoding Initiative is to develop and maintain a set of high-quality guidelines for the encoding of humanities texts, and to support their use by a wide community of projects, institutions, and individuals. In support of this mission the TEI pursues a number of important goals and activities”

James Cummings article produces a complete picture of standardisation of digital literature. He uses examples to explain first how the TEI have created guidelines for the use of electronic archiving and publication and he continues into the history of the organisation which is funded by the members and grows through the use and need of the individuals. Cummings states that literary scholars are generally not that adept with technology, preferring to stay within the realm of the novel and explains that the TEI’s aim is to reach both literary scholars as well as the more computer and technology minded.

Throughout the article Cummings is promoting the need for standardisation of guidelines for literature being published online, without it he claims all credibility will be lost.  He continues to draw links between literary theorists Barthes, Bakhtain, Foucault and Derrida and asserts that digital scholars are in a prime position to be able to bridge the gap and evolve the theories further. The intertextual element to the internet is highlighted by Cummings assertion that there are both positives and negatives to be drawn from it. To be able to navigate a complicated text, like for example The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot (which has many classical references), with the ability to link individual references is unquestionably a wonderful leap forward. However what comes into question is the quality and regulation of the content which supports his claim that all texts must be correctly cited, referenced and researched to TEI guidelines in order to be deemed creditable. In short, as their mission statement says, the aim of the TEI is to ensure that the value of electronic editions does not dwindle.


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