Encoding Text as a Nexus of Perspective Hierarchies: Case Studies in XML, LMNL, and RDF
William Michael Broughton
|Title||Encoding Text as a Nexus of Perspective Hierarchies: Case Studies in XML, LMNL, and RDF
Encoded by Vanessa Hannesschläger
Encoded by Daniel Schopper
The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License applies to this text.
It is a fairly easy thing to challenge long standing best practices, especially in a field as increasingly sophisticated as ours is; it is an altogether more difficult thing, however, to actually put that audacious theorizing into practice. I have previously advanced the argument that many of the ills facing the encoding of textual resources are due less to the technical limitations of our practice, but rather to the model of text which underpins it. Instead, I suggest a model of text which extends the (often bemoaned, though still influential) OHCO model, envisioning text not as a single structured hierarchy of content object, but rather as a multidimensional matrix of sometimes conflicting, but ultimately interrelated, hierarchies of values. Modeling text – and encoding it – thus would, I argued, allow for nearly seamless data interchange and interoperability, and also for the simultaneous encoding of divergent interpretation within a single interpretative hierarchy – the encoding of dissensus – within a single resource.
However, the time has come to put this theory into practice. What would a text encoded in this way look like? How would it operate? And could any existing encoding scheme or language stand up to the demands I require of it? To answer these questions, I have encoded a single textual source (Doug Zonker’s "Chicken Chicken Chicken: Chicken Chicken" ) using a layered, dimensional approach using three separate encoding languages: TEI-flavored XML, the Layered Markup and Annotation Language (LMNL), and the Resource Description Framework (RDF), serialized as JSON-LD. While each of the encoding schemes offers unique benefits to the problem, they bring many and varied challenges as well. But both the benefits and the challenges provide valuable insight into the work of reconsidering text as more than the one thing, or even as more than one thing at the same time.