By Julianne Nyhan, on 20 April 2011
I spent a chunk of last week in Chicago at the TEI Council face-to-face meeting. The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a consortium that develops and publishes XML-based Guidelines for making digital texts machine readable. The Guidelines are used by a very wide range of Digital Humanities projects, in universities, libraries, museums and in publishing. TEI is the first standard of its kind in the Humanities and Social Sciences and is endorsed by bodies such as NEH, AHRC and the EU’s Expert Advisory Group for Language engineering.
I was elected to the TEI Council, which has twelve members in total, in December 2009. All of us on the Council have expertise in XML, but we come from a wide range of backgrounds, including, Palaeography, History, Linguistics and Computing. The chief responsibility of the Council is the technical development of the TEI Guidelines, which involves ‘recommend[ing], evaluate[ing], and implement[ing] new features and modifications of existing features, and supervise[ing] the overall development of each new version of the Guidelines’. In essence, this means that in addition to establishing that a modification of some kind (which has been requested by a member of the community in the usual way) is technically feasible, we must also establish that the modification does not conflict with the intellectual content of the Guidelines as a whole or (except in special circumstances) break backwards compatibility with previous versions of the Guidelines. If you are interested in learning more about this work, and about the kinds of deliberations that take place at Council meetings, please see the Council meeting minutes: http://www.tei-c.org/Activities/Council/Meetings/. The minutes of the 2011 meeting will be posted there too over the coming days.