Thursday 29 September 2011

Restaurants in London where I love to eat

Perhaps this blog should have been entitled "Confession of a Digital Humanist with a passion for Good Food", but I guess passion for good food and cookery are strictly related anyway.

Some of my new international students have asked me to give them advice on where to eat in London, so here I am with the list of my favourite restaurants. Please feel free to add more suggestions!

  • Thai Square: I normally go to the on on Shaftesbury Avenue: outstanding! #thai
  • Tas, there is another one at London Bridge equally good: cheap and delicious #turkish
  • Sagar in Covent Garden, really amazing!  Did I mention cheap? #vegetarian #indian 
  • Bali Bali in Shaftesbury Avenue  #indonesian
  • Kasturi in Leytonstone High road #indian #nepalese
  • Kulu Kulu in Covent Garden #japanese
  • Gaucho in Canary Wharf #argentinian
  • Anatolia Cafe in Leyton: beautiful, unpretentious #turkish
  • O'Neill's Pub in front of the British Library and in Leytonstone (and probably elsewhere!)  #irish
  • King Edward VII in Stratford: gastro pub #british
  • In Westfield at Stratford we tried so far the Vietnamese, Caribbean, Chinese, Malaysian: all great!
  • Colbeh at Edgwar Rd #persian
  • Thailander in Stratford #thai
  • Le pain quotidien in South Kensington, but others are not bad either #belgian

Monday 26 September 2011

The Future of the TEI

John Unsworth, interim chair of the TEI Consortium (TEI-C) has requested that candidates
for the Board and Council, and continuing members of the Board and Council, address some
questions on strategic issues related to the TEI. As I have been nominated for the Board,
and following James
Cummings example
I decided to post here are my answers.

1) Should the TEI cease to collect membership fees, and cease to pay for meetings, publications, services, etc.?
No. I think the activities supported by the fees are extremely important,
for instance SIG grants, projects and Meetings. I would rather see a more
balanced expenditure with less money used for travels and more money for
more interesting activities.
2) Assuming paid membership continues. should institutional members have a choice between paying in cash and paying by supporting the travel of their employees to meetings, or committing time on salary to work on TEI problems?
I don't see why not: contributing to the TEI can take as many forms that
the TEI consider important and relevant for its activities. This doesn't
sound like a big innovation though, but very much like the partner
institutions which might be extended to include this kind of arrangement,
though without necessarily having a member on the Board. There could be,
for instance, different levels of contribution from partner institutions.
3) Should the TEI have individual members (paying or not) who can vote to elect
people to the board and/or council?
Yes: individual members should be able to elect people just as
institutional ones do.
4) Should the email discussions of the TEI Board be publicly
Yes: there might be some topics that are really sensitive in which case
there might be some kind of privacy setting on a topic or something, but
in general I think this should be the exception, not the rule.
5) Should the Board and the Council be combined into a single body, with
subsets of that group having the responsibilities now assigned to each separate
Not necessarily: Board and Council have very different functions and
activities and work better separately. There should be a much closer
relation between the two, though: I have served 4 years on the Council
I have to say very little of the activities of the Board ever reached us.
I have no means of knowing if the converse is true as well. On a related
topic, I think that there are far too many elected people between the
Council and the Board: 12 people on the Council and 8 on the Board,
meaning there are 20 people's travels to support, which is really a
I would welcome a reduction of numbers there.
Given that, in the next two years, which of the following should be the TEI's highest
priority? Pick only one:
  • a) providing services that make it easy for scholars to publish and use TEI texts online
  • b) providing workshops, training, and other on-ramp services that help people understand why they might want to use TEI and how to begin to do so
  • c) encouraging the development of third-party tools for TEI users
  • d) ensuring that large amounts of lightly but consistently encoded texts (e.g., TEI Tite) are generated and made publicly available, perhaps in a central repository or at least through some centrally coordinated portal
  • e) developing a roadmap for P6 that positions the TEI in relation to other standards (HTML5, RDF, etc.)
  • f) tackling hard problems not addressed in other encoding schemes, in order to maximize the expressive and interpretive power of TEI
I pick (a) hoping that it includes also a better design of the website, more
tutorial and support material. I think there is still a serious need for outreach and
evangelisation: the more complex the TEI gets in order to respond to scholarly needs, the
more need for tutorials and 'getting started' material there is.

I have also written an electoral statement, which follows:

After having served on the TEI Council for two consecutive mandates, I am now
delighted to have been nominated for election to the TEI Board. The recent events have
demonstrated that governance of the TEI requires some further thought in spite of the recent
modifications to the bylaws, in particular with respect to the role of the Board and the way
it manages its activities. The recent crisis and the way it has been handled were
unacceptable to many of the people that have generously contributed to the growth and health
of the TEI in the 30 years or so of its history. This, I believe, has damaged both the TEI
itself and the field of Digital Humanities in general, as witnessed by the shock and
bewilderment expressed by the community on TEI-L and on many social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook and Google+). These events, as well as the request from the Interim Chair of the Board for proposals about the future of the TEI, call for a deep re-thinking of the role of the TEI community and its relationship with the Board and Council. If I am elected to serve on the Board, I will engage in helping to move governance of the TEI toward a more transparent way of working, ensuring that broad consent is sought and pursued not only among the elected members of the Board and the Council but also among the community at large – a community represented mainly but not only by contributors to TEI-L. I have already made some proposals on TEI-L to which I plan to remain faithful, but I will be more than happy to also consider all other proposals (such as, for instance, the direct election of the TEI chair) which go in the direction of more transparency and collegiality in the governance of the

Wednesday 21 September 2011

New Year, New Students, New DHers

A new academic year is about to start, the lights of the old one have not yet faded and not all dissertations have yet been handed in, but we are now getting ready for the new cohort of students arriving from all over the planet.
I'm very excited about this new coming year, I have to admit: I had much more time to prepare with respect to last year and therefore I'm enjoying this liminal experience very much: all is new and sparkling, the reading lists are shining and I'm very much looking forward the new generation of DHers.

It will be a very exciting year also institutionally: we will be offering three new courses within the MA in Digital Humanities which are:

What will I be doing then? I will be teaching Digital Publishing: from Gutenberg to Jobs (Steve, that is: yes, I will talk about iPads!) in the first term and Advanced Text Technologies in the second term: the content of both courses have been deeply updated, but the real novelty will be the new module I'm preparing for the following year: Digital Editing: only the brave!

I just realised this is my second post of the day... my pattern of using this blog is, I have to admit, very random, nothing for months and then two  in day... oh well!

Digital Editing

Working on a revamp of the MA in Digital Humanities at King's I have started to think about creating a new module where I can teach something I care about and I am good at: Digital Editing.

I spent a bit of time browsing Lisa Spiro's Zotero Group (terrific resource, if you ask me!) and I have realised that none of the syllabi listed there speak about digital editing, there are a lot of them that cover XML and the TEI, but none explicitly address the issue of editing digitally, which is a bit weird, considering the number of articles and papers at conferences that discuss it. I think the reason is that it is considered a topic that is a bit too advanced for an MA programme (which is a bit weird as I studied editing during my BA back in Italy... )

The other possibility is that it might be considered too connected to a "traditional" humanities discipline more than to DH, namely literature (English, German, Italian...) or History, or Philosophy, or... which is true in a sense, but editing is also a trans-disciplinary methodology. When it comes to digital, even more so. There are in fact a set of competencies and methods that can be applied across the board, namely:

  • data modelling
  • text encoding
  • text analysis
  • imaging
  • web design
All of which, of course, in addition to the traditional competencies that are required to do such a job, such us:

  • understanding of what a primary source is and how it works
  • understanding of the text one has to edit
  • understanding of the circumstance in which the text was produces
  • understanding of which circumstances the text has circulated and has arrived to us
  • the use of such understandings in the act of editing
Is there here a scope for an interdisciplinary module for our MA in Digital Humanities? This is  what I'm trying to find out. Any suggestion?