Encoding as WYSIWYG Production

26 August, 2013
Encoding as WYSIWYG Production

As a musician, encoding never seemed like it would be in my wheelhouse. I suppose the nature of the beast gets obscured by the myth—if I pictured mark-up code, I did not see the reality, but instead the lines of binary from Swordfish or The Matrix. It turns out that working in the disciplines of English and Music actually formed natural segues into coding.

The correlation between the critical academic pursuits of English studies and the array of encoding forms is decidedly tighter than I had first envisioned it to be. Simply put, the fact that code functions as a language renders it vulnerable to the majority of grammatical and syntactical methods and dissections that run deep into the English major’s toolkit.

Before I was introduced to the functions and practice of XML and CSS encoding, my experience with technical praxis was limited to production software—particularly the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) kind. I figured that mixing demos and live recordings with colour-coded sliders and digital equalizers wouldn’t have much bearing on encoding, but it turns out that audio editing and markup are both heavily dependent on an OCD-like tendency towards presentation. Both editing environments can be conceived through the idea of the idea and the witness: the original work to be encoded (or musical piece to be recorded) can only be attested to by the witnesses (the textual in-hand documents, the scans, the prints, the audio files, the discs), and it is the job of the encoder or producer to prepare this witness as truthfully and faithfully as possible.

These two practices came to a head during my encoding of Thomas Middleton’s The Triumphs of Truth, in which sheet music is present in the original printings (fig. 1).
Notated music appearing in Middleton’s The Triumphs of Truth
Notated music appearing in Middleton’s The Triumphs of Truth
The difficulty of representing the music in a digital reproduction presents questions of conservation, utility, and useability. Do we replicate it identically, early modern notation and all? Do we render it as a playable WAV file, attempting to expand a user’s experience? Do we present the original and then provide modern renditions and interpretations alongide it? The producer in me pushes for idyllic representation—rendering the notation through MEI resources, and then creating interactive and playable segments to offer the user an immersive and accurate experience. The encoder, however, wants direct representation of early modern notation, mineable and executable, yes, but without remediations or designs. How do we, as encoders, researchers, and those passionate for the humanities, choose to both represent and create? Direct representation is essentially the domain of the scanner and the microfilm—preparing archival material digitally should create new resources for research and experience; the trick is to preserve the material while enhancing it, I suppose.

Cite this page

MLA citation

Virani, Zaqir. Encoding as WYSIWYG Production. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/BLOG1.htm.

Chicago citation

Virani, Zaqir. Encoding as WYSIWYG Production. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/BLOG1.htm.

APA citation

Virani, Z. 2022. Encoding as WYSIWYG Production. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/editions/7.0/BLOG1.htm.

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Virani, Zaqir
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Encoding as WYSIWYG Production
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/BLOG1.htm
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/xml/standalone/BLOG1.xml
ER  - 

TEI citation

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