A while back (actually it’s been more than a year) I wrote about our efforts to develop a set of shared terms to be used across the Four Zoas and Marginalia projects. We’ve been struggling with this since, with the use of <layer> in the marginalia encoding as an interim solution. Since the Four Zoas project has unusual (ahem) layout and intensive revisions, we introduced <zone> to represent the spatial structure of the text and <stage> as a child element of line in an attempt to represent every act of editing in detail. For the marginalia however, we needed a tag to distinguish between Blake’s writing and the typographic text more than anything to denote layers of revision and editing within the line. In order to avoid confusion, we decided to use <layer> for our schema. The results looked like this:

Four Zoas:


Now that we’ve developed and tested our marginalia schema on Blake’s copies of Lavater, Thornton and Watson, we’re looking forward to building a display that would have layout specific to the nature of these texts, such as two-page objects (in order to display text in the gutter), options to toggle between typographic text and Blake’s notes etc. Since Team Color Code (Four Zoas) has been collaborating with Josh Romphf from the Digital Scholarship Lab at UR to build a customized Javascript display for the Four Zoas, Team Marginalia has decided that it would be best to restructure the marginalia schema so that it can work within the same Javascript application (with reasonable adjustments). Since the Four Zoas has never used a <layer> tag, the marginalia group  is dropping it as well, no longer differentiating between the typographic text and Blake’s writing at the level of the encoding for reasons of efficiency:

Although it was fundamental at the conceptual level to the way we created our encoding schema, its practical functions appear to be largely vestigial since any differences between typographic text and marginalia will be clear to users due to the display, the color code and the existing editorial framework of the Blake Archive website.

Diagrams of FZ and the marginalia

Working through these minor issues reveals a set of problems central to developing digital editions – making creative and intellectual decisions that must be constantly informed by technological, institutional and financial constraints, more so than with traditional humanities scholarship due to the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of our work. But the amazing bit is that we always have brilliant team members to look over our shoulders and double-check for errors, just as someone in BAND is always sure to proof-read these blogs to ensure that we don’t make typos!