OCOEP: Frequently-Asked Questions

Who do you think you are, Christian Wilhelm Michael &*%@!^% Grein?

Not at all. The work I am doing here is only possible because of what Grein, Wülker, Krapp, and Dobbie (and many, many other editors of individual poems or manuscripts, together with lexicographers and literary and textual critics) have already accomplished in this field. Grein, in particular, established a firm foundation for all such editorial work. There is nothing particularly innovative about my work apart from its medium and I do not aspire to authority. And as many of my colleagues will know, I am not particularly well qualified for this work.

In the Project History you say you only spend twenty minutes a day on this project: why so little?

As far as I know, this is pro bono work, unlikely to be financially compensated by salary increments at my university or to result in any form of professional recognition. As a responsible employee and family man, twenty minutes is about all I can afford. Maybe when I retire in 2022 I can pick up the pace.

You sometimes reject solutions to textual problems offered by Krapp and Dobbie or even by more recent editors of individual poems. Doesn't that make your texts less useable?

I hope not. My motives are pure, in that I, like the other editors, am only trying to do my best with sometimes problematic texts, and I do make sure to record the reading of the manuscript itself and the suggestions of other editors. The job would lose more than half its fun for me if I restricted myself from innovating in any way, and I'd probably quit. After I'm gone, if someone has enough energy, things could be put back to make a pure Krapp and Dobbie text.

How can I cite texts from this project?

An enormous variety of citation styles are used in different countries, so you need to refer to whatever manual or guidelines you have been given. In MLA style, the most common style used in North America for humanities publications, an appropriate entry would be one of the following:

Genesis. Ed. Murray McGillivray. 7 July 2007. Online Corpus of Old English Poetry. University of Calgary. 10 July 2007. <http://www.oepoetry.ca>.
McGillivray, Murray, ed. Genesis. 7 July 2007. Online Corpus of Old English Poetry. University of Calgary. 10 July 2007. <http://www.oepoetry.ca>.
(MLA style uses two dates, one for the date given on the Web site of the most recent revision to the page cited, the other for the date on which the site was visited.) Use the first style given above if you are referring primarily to the text of the Old English poem, the second style if you are referring primarily the OCOEP edition of the poem.

Are you taking any steps to archive your texts? To make sure that they're forward-compatible with new systems?

The site is backed up to optical media (stored off site) about once a month; it's also hosted on a University of Calgary server that's backed up daily to tape stored (in another location) off site. I connect to this server via WebDAV, which makes it appear like a drive on the various local machines I work on, although it also appears as an open Web site on the Internet. Because I am able using this technology to make texts useable to some extent even as I work on them, I am currently authoring directly in HTML to avoid imposing a stage of transformation before saving files to the server. I hope to change eventually to a system where archive copies of the texts are maintained in TEI-XML and subjected to an XSLT transform before being served to the Web, but I'm too lazy to work this out right now. Of course, there's no long-term guarantee of the useability of either HTML or TEI-XML, but my presumption, especially about the former, is that any replacement system will have to come with lossless conversion features; the latter is specifically designed to retain complex textual information in a way that permits multiple forward compatibility.

Do you want some help?

Not right now, thank you. I'm making reasonable forward progress and I've figured out a way to fit this into my own routine without much bother; so adapting to having other people working with me is a bit daunting at this point. And because of two factors mentioned already (the pro bono nature of the project, the WebDAV technology being used), I can't currently see myself moving it to the front burner and taking on collaborators. But keep asking if you're interested.

Has anyone really asked you these questions at all, let alone frequently?

One of them has been asked once!