Electronic Scholarly Editions – Kenneth Price

I will be looking at the thoughts and ideas that Price’s article conjured up for me. The article appears as Chapter 24 in A Companion to Digital Literary Studies which can be found here

In his article, Price looks at the transferring of literature away from the print tradition, to the digital medium. One of the main aims of these types of projects is to preserve the texts for future reference. Pages that would be too  delicate for handling can now be viewed, without running the risk of any damage being done to the piece.

Personally, I like to read a physical book when I am reading for pleasure, but I prefer to use digital texts for academic work. I can find certain words within a text to pinpoint what I am looking for. If there are links on a page I can use these to gather more supporting information. A piece of text online is more than just words now; we can have multimedia items, links, electronic indexes, and opinions from other readers.

However, when reading for college work, you must take into consideration the authenticity of the piece. For example, articles found on Wikipedia are usually not deemed suitable for academic reference. Newspapers also have this problem, where some as seen as more ‘low-brow’ while other are seen as more noteworthy and reliable.

The one problem people trying to compile an archive may face is whether they was to collect pieces that work towards a certain goal, of whether they want everything from a certain scholar. For example, if we wanted to make a collection of all of William Shakespeare’s works – with different editions and versions – it would be a very time consuming process, and be very difficult to complete. However, if you aimed to look at his tragedies, or plays within two specific dates, it would be easier to do. This is a question for each person undertaking any digital archiving project.

Price talks about the new and improving technology used when publishing online. He refers to the increasing use of XML (extensible mark up language). The thing that makes XML popular is that it is independent from programs and operating systems. If one operating system was replaced, then things published in entirely that medium become hard to access. This new piece of technology further helps to preserve and store texts that may have otherwise been lost.

There are more and more groups that are trying to produce digital archives. They aim to preserve the pieces, teach others and reach the maximum number of people possible.  While there are many private digital archives,  there is a greater call for open access. Price’s article is a informative one, with many point that keep you thinking.