[tei-council] genetic draft -- from Brett, pt. 6

Brett Barney bbarney2 at unlnotes.unl.edu
Fri Sep 2 12:41:03 EDT 2011

The last of my first-round thoughts. I'll try next to answer some of the
questions, challenges, etc. that have been raised in response to earlier

Note: The following comments concern the draft at

> The use of elements such as del and add necessarily implies that the
> modifications they indicate were made at some time after the original
> writing. An exception to this is where a false start or ʻinstantʼ
> correction has been identified: the author starts to write, and then
> immediately corrects what has been written.

I know that this will probably seem like hair-splitting, though I don't
think it is. "at some time after the the original writing" is really
nebulous--it could be four hundred years or it could be a nanosecond. The
real problem, I think, is not with "some time" but with "the original
writing," which could be interpreted as the first of a particular set of
alternant words/letters/phrases or as the entire output of a writing stint.
The second sentence of this paragraph implies that the second is the
intended meaning, though I don't see anything in the way <del> and <add>
are discussed/defined that would make them inappropriate for
nanasecond-scale changes. At any rate, if it's thought that we want/need to
provide a way to create separate classes for revisions made during a single
stint and those made in another stint, we'll both need to be explicit and
clear here that that's what we're doing and to go back and spruce up the
discussion of <add> and <del>, etc. As I'm sure is apparent, I have my
doubts about the whole enterprise, but if others think it's both possible
and worthwhile I don't have principled qualms about providing a protocol
for doing it.

> When the value of @instant is set to true, the addition or deletion is
> considered to belong to the same layer as its parent element, while false
> means some layer later than that of its parent.

> to indicate both that one or more of such phenomena preceded or followed
> another

In both of these places, the conception of <notLayer> is narrower than the
one that emerged from our discussions in Chicago. There, it was explained
to me that the element/attribute could be used to corral not only revisions
that were made during a particular stint but also edits that had some sort
of other commonality (e.g., proofreading as opposed to substantive

> or (for preference) by pointing from the element concerned to the layer
> element by means of its @layer attribute

I'm not familiar with this use of "for preference." Could well be a sign of
educational inadequacy, of course.

> then textual alterations and acts of writing are associated with.

Should read: then textual alterations and acts of writing are associated
with *them*.

> once from a documentary perspective, and once from a textual one

I paused over this way of naming the two views, as it seems that elsewhere
in this draft you've tried to get away from shorthand terms that invoke
whole schools of thought. For example, I don't recall seeing reference here
to diplomatic transcription or genetic editing. And the heads to sections
to 1.2 and 1.3 don't use that kind of cue, either. Of course, just after
the example that the above phrase introduces is a paragraph that outlines
the two "perspectives" in a straightforward way, so maybe the issue is
placement? The more I think about it, the more generalized anxiety I feel
about that last paragraph. If I were reading all of this for the first
time, I think I would find it strange that such a fundamental assumption,
one that would seem to have implications for everything else in this draft,
isn't revealed until the end, leaving me to go back and try to puzzle out
what sorts of implications it has for those earlier sections.


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