The first piece of text I worked with was section 5 of “Murder in the Rue Morgue”. This particular assignment involved diplomatically and semantically marking up the source text. Of those two components of the markup, the semantic tagging was the most involved by far, requiring much more thought going into every tag. I think my markup was greatly affected by the content of this section of the text. My portion of “Murder in the Rue Morgue” was very monologue heavy, with the character Dupin discussing his deductive reasoning involving the way the killer entered and exited the scene of the crime. One interesting decision I made during my markup was to treat some of the verbs used by Dupin as well-defined events.
Whereas egress, descent, and my other event tags might be regarded as more general verbs in most contexts, Dupin talks about them as specific events in the timeline of the murder.
The question can then be raised: did the encoding of this text help me to better understand the subject of this writing? I would have to say yes. When simply reading Murder in the Rue Morgue, it’s easy to get lost in Dupin’s monologues, and lose out on important details of his deductions. When doing a semantic markup on the text, you have to pull out those important details and really think on why they stand out in the text. You have to understand what exactly is going on in the source text in order to create an effective encoding. As Ramussen puts it, “in order to contribute actively to the edition’s production of knowledge, it is necessary to have prior knowledge of both the scholarly edition and the published work” (Ramussen, 128).
Our work on the personography of the signers of the Declaration of Independence forced us to work with a text in a very different way. Instead of highlighting and marking up the information in the source text, our job was to bring in information from other sources and link them to the source in our edition. This kind of encoding practically reverses the tagging we did in the Poe assignment. Instead of finding important words in the text and appropriately tagging them, we laid out a system of important tags and then filled them with the correct information.
This kind of encoding most closely matches what Rasmussen defines as a “Knowledge Site.” As she defines them, “Knowledge sites can thus better identify the relationship between
the work’s texts and other texts that relate to the work” (Rasmussen, 125). Our edition of the Declaration of Independence was made of the source material and many smaller texts detailing the signers.
Overall, text encoding is a fantastic way of expanding knowledge about a particular text. In the case of our works, we not only experienced detailing specific parts of the source text in the Poe assignment, but also bringing in and linking new information with the Declaration of Independence project.