Wednesday, 5 February 2014

follow-up to our last class on XML

Actually I may be speaking too soon when I call today our last class on XML, as there's more to say about XML and interface that I may return to next week, when we consider the history and future of the page. One of the things I may discuss is my own interface experimentation project, Visualizing Variation, which has an "animated variants" component that shows how XML can combine with other web technologies (Javascript and Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS) to create a simple but scalable interface. For those who missed the TEI url I showed in class, we were looking at the "Apendix C: Elements" page of the TEI P5 Guidelines, whose table of contents can be found here:

Rather more exciting, however, is that Andrew Steeves from Gaspereau Press will be joining us to talk about the past and future of the page, and perhaps other topics related to the future of the book. I recommend learning a bit about Gaspereau Press beforehand, which you can do through its blog:

Also in the good news department: we'll be taking a field trip to the Fisher Rare Book Library (pictured below) for our first class after Reading Week, on Feb. 26th. Although this is a class on e-books, there are some items from the Fisher collection we can examine in relation to our topic, as well as some of the books we've been discussing in recent classes. We'll meet in our regular classroom at 9:30 and walk over together. Thankfully the Fisher is part of the Robarts complex, so you won't even need a coat. (In fact, the fewer coats and bags you bring, the quicker it'll be for our group to pass the security desk to get inside. Also, please be sure not to bring any pens or liquids; pencils and computers are fine for taking notes.)

Although it wasn't planned, our two main examples today were drawn, appropriately enough, from Darwin and the King James Bible. If you'd like to go to the Fisher to call up Darwin's corrected proofs for The Expression of Emotions in Man and the Animals, you can find the record here: The Fisher also has proofs for two other of Darwin's books, The Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom ( and The Power of Movement in Plants ( Remember, you don't need to be a Darwin researcher to call up these books and look at them -- even if you're just curious to watch Darwin at work through his revisions, go ahead and call up one or all of these books. That's why the Fisher exists. If you'd like to learn more about how Darwin's theories evolved in relation to book publishing, correspondence, and other textual technologies, check out the Darwin Correspondence Project, Darwin Online (which provides digital facsimiles of Darwin's works), and Ben Fry's visualization of revisions to Origin of Species.

On the Biblical side of things, I've posted a couple of supplementary readings to BB, by David Norton and Peter Stallybrass, which unpack many of the typographical details we looked at today -- and many more that we didn't consider. There's a good digital facsimile of the 1611 King James Bible available from the U Penn Library's Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image. Here's the link to the page from Genesis that we used for our in-class exercise, and here's the link to the page from "The Translators to the Reader" that contains that politically ambitious printer's ornament (also discussed in Peter's article). We'll get a first-hand look at an actual copy of the KJV when we visit the Fisher in a few weeks. It's a very different reading experience in codex form, such that the translators should probably have reminded the readers to lift with their legs, not their backs.

Finally, here's the Wikipedia page for Douglas Englebart's so-called Mother of All Demos (I love that that's the actual Wikipedia url), which demonstrated for the first time in 1968 many computer interface elements that we now take for granted. Finally, here's the full story on the Rand 1956 "home computer" image hoax, which, unlike the Englebart demo, isn't actually true, but may possess truthiness of another sort.

As always, lecture slides are posted on BB. Happy reading... and shovelling!

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