TEI is another new thing to me, and I don’t even know its full name. But I do know what it refers to and asks for after finishing two TEI assignments.
In Poe assignment, I was luckily assigned the final part and also the most important plot of a detective and horror short novel written by Poe. Because of the characteristic of a detective novel, there are many different people, places, and events that I can mark up, and each person or place does not show only once. What I did is to categorize them and give them a same “dress”. While at the beginning, it was not as easy as I thought of. For the reason that TEI asks for markup, only fully understanding the whole text can help to find which person is important enough to be marked up, or which event is crucial to develop the story. Just as Pierazzo says “The challenge is therefore to select those limits that allow a model which is adequate to the scholarly purpose for which it has been created.” (Pierazzo, p466-p467) TEI is wonderful because anyone can give any word a distinct category, but it doesn’t mean that we have to mark everything up. That limit could help us fully use TEI, and build a pellucid context.
Unlike Poe assignment, Declaration of Independence exercise is simpler but it shows how powerful TEI can be. What I find significant is <listRelation>. In Wikipedia text, the description of Hopkins’s family is every cumbersome which seems to show off the narrator’s newly-got grammar skills and put all sentences in a mess combination with all different names that no one knows where they come from. While TEI can simply list all of them with relationships with Hopkins. (shown below)
What I have worked with is a short novel written by Poe. Now try to imagine that if the text is Harry Potter, although one person can do all the text analysis, and it sounds fun to do, the efficiency is quite low. Thinking about Poe assignment, one can just read all the markups to grasp the basic idea of the text. This is much more helpful, especially when cooperating with each other on very obscure context. What’s more is that TEI has special categorizing power. Browsing articles would fail to understand what “she” or “that” refers to when it is the main object in “event” markup. TEI can easily mark “she” and “that” up to make them more sense to cooperators. Showing another side of multifunctional TEI, Declaration of Independence exercise turns a pool of information into a microchip. Instead of reading 10-page “brief” introduction, TEI really makes an abstract out of it and helps readers get a better understanding of the context not only because the way is faster, but also because TEI connects one to another. In Digital Scholarly Editing written by Rasmussen (p128), there are three levels of “reading in relation to digital texts”: “level of manipulation”, “level of comprehension” and “level of interpretation”. These three levels are just three steps to build up a TEI. How it works totally conforms to how people read. There is no reason that TEI does not help.