Third-Party Annotations in the Digital Edition Using EDITOR

  1. 1. Peter Boot

    Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING) - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

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Recent discussion about the scholarly digital
edition has focussed on ways to change the edition
from a passive text, only there to be consulted, into a
dynamic research environment. Siemens in (Siemens 2005) asks why as yet we have seen no convincing
integration between text analysis tools and the hypertext
edition. Best in (Best 2005) speculates on the
possibilities this vision offers for Shakespeare research. To some extent it seems to be what Mueller is realising in the Nameless Shakespeare (Mueller 2005). An essential
step towards seamless integration of text analysis
tools into the digital edition (TAML, the Text Analysis Mark-up Language) is suggested in (Sinclair 2005).
The most visionary statement of the dynamic edition’s potential is no doubt given by Robinson in (Robinson 2003). A dynamic edition, in his view, while offering text analysis and other tools that may shed light on some
aspect or another of the edited texts, would also be open to the addition of new content, of corrections, of many different types of annotations.
Integrating third-party annotations into the edition is
something that seems especially interesting, as it would
open up the edition to the results of interpretive studies. The output of scholarly processes of textual analysis (as e.g. suggested in Bradley 2003) could be fed back into the digital edition, and made available for querying by other scholars.
This paper will focus on a solution for adding third
party annotations into a digital edition. It will propose a REST (Representational State Transfer, Fielding 2000) API for the exchange of annotation information between
an edition and an annotation server. The edition display
software (which transforms the edition XML source file into HTML) will ask the annotation server for
the annotations that apply to text fragments that are
being displayed to the edition user. Depending on
the parameters the annotation server will return either
annotations formatted for display or instructions for
hyperlinking the text to the annotations. Thus, the digital
edition will be able to include a display of external a
nnotations without knowing about the annotations’
contents or even the annotation data model.
The paper presentation will include a brief
demonstration of a prototype implementation of the protocol. The demonstration will be based on a digital emblem book edition at the Emblem Project Utrecht
( and use the EDITOR
annotation toolset under development at the Huygens Institute (
projects/editor, Boot 2005). EDITOR at present consists of an annotation input component that runs on the user’s workstation and an annotation display component that runs on a web server. The input component displays the CSS-styled edition XML to the user and facilitates the creation of multi-field user-typed annotations to arbitrary ranges of text in the edition. The display component, still at an early stage of development, shows the annotations in conjunction with the edition XML, has some facilities
for filtering and sorting, and will offer, one day,
advanced visualisation facilities. The EDITOR server component will serve up the annotations for display in other contexts, first and foremost, presumably, in the context of the digital edition that they annotate.
As Robinson notes, one of the more complex issues
in annotating the digital edition is the problem of
concurrent hierarchies and the mark-up overlap problems to which this gives rise. The EDITOR annotation toolset assumes the edition and its annotations will be stored in separate locations. Each annotation stores information about the start and end locations of the text fragment to which it applies. There is no need to materialize the annotations into tagging interspersed between the basic edition mark-up, and the overlap issue therefore does not arise (the solution in that respect is similar to the Just In Time Markup described in Eggert 2005). Similarly, as the edition XML remains unmodified, there is no need to worry about potential corruptions during the annotation process.
Making available third-party annotations from within the digital edition will go a long way towards establishing a ‘distributed edition fashioned collaboratively’, to borrow Robinson’s words. My paper will briefly look at some of the wider issues the integration of third-party scholarship into the digital edition raises. How will the presence of third-party material influence the edition’s status? Should there be a review process for third-party contributions?
Or is it old-fashioned to even think in terms of ‘third
parties’? Robinson speaks of the edition as a ‘mutual
enterprise’. Editorial institutes, such as the Huygens
Institute, will need to rethink their role, as scholarly
editions evolve into centrepieces of ever-expanding
repositories of text-related scholarship.
Best, Michael (2005), ‘Is this a vision? is this a dream?’: Finding New Dimensions in Shakespeare’s Texts’, CH Working Papers,, accessed 2005-11-13.
Boot, Peter (2005), ‘Advancing digital scholarship using EDITOR’, Humanities, Computers and
Cultural Heritage. Proceedings of the XVI international
conference of the Association for History and
Computing 14-17 September 2005 (Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).
Bradley, John (2003), ‘Finding a Middle
Ground between ‘Determinism’ and ‘Aesthetic
Indeterminacy’: a Model for Text Analysis Tools’, Lit Linguist Computing, 18 (2), 185-207.
Eggert, Paul (2005), ‘Text-encoding, Theories of the Text, and the ‘Work-Site’, Lit Linguist Computing, 20 (4), 425-35.
Fielding, Roy Thomas (2000), ‘Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures’, (University of California).
Mueller, Martin (2005), ‘The Nameless Shakespeare’, CH Working Papers,, accessed 2005-11-13.
Robinson, Peter (2003), ‘Where we are with electronic
scholarly editions, and where we want to be’,
Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie, http://
robinson.html, accessed 1005-11-13.
Siemens, Ray (with the TAPoR community) (2005), ‘Text Analysis and the Dynamic Edition? A Working Paper, Briefly Articulating Some Concerns with an Algorithmic Approach to the Electronic Scholarly Edition’, CH Working Papers,, accessed 2005-11-13.
Sinclair, Stéfan (2005), ‘Toward Next Generation Text Analysis Tools: The Text Analysis Markup
Language (TAML)’, CH Working Papers,
Sinclair_casta02.htm, accessed 2005-11-13.

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Conference Info



Hosted at Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne University)

Paris, France

July 5, 2006 - July 9, 2006

151 works by 245 authors indexed

The effort to establish ADHO began in Tuebingen, at the ALLC/ACH conference in 2002: a Steering Committee was appointed at the ALLC/ACH meeting in 2004, in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the 2005 meeting in Victoria, the executive committees of the ACH and ALLC approved the governance and conference protocols and nominated their first representatives to the ‘official’ ADHO Steering Committee and various ADHO standing committees. The 2006 conference was the first Digital Humanities conference.

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (26), ACH/ALLC (18), ALLC/EADH (33), ADHO (1)

Organizers: ACH, ADHO, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None