JRG's Electronic Dissertation
University of Iowa Overview
Write XML ETD's
This is a very new segment at Vedavid. It evolved as the recent project with the University of Iowa regarding Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD's) continued to develop. I chose XML for the ETD project due to its flexibility, durability, and overall robust power for specifically identifying kinds of information rather than just what it looks like (the model for this--and a simple explanation, comes from SGML, see also simple example). Iowa is revising its program based on an effort to work together with the other Big Ten institutions, so the files here are only models. Since September of 1999, I have been employed as XML Engineer for a cutting-edge XML project, affiliated with Emory University, for an electronic research environment for theology, religion, and ethics, building on the work of the American Theological Library Association called the ATLAS Project. It keeps me busy, so most of the rest of this page is largely un-updated!
I am also working on some specialized applications of XML to the realm of what I am terming "e-Textnology," the rapidly developing technical field of electronic text design, creation, manipulation, and use. XML is ideally suited for this purpose as it supports multiple links, embedding of alternate MSS and so forth. It must also be made to look like something, and there's a way to do that (and samples to be added to the resources below). All of this requires setting up outlines or Document Type Definitions for what kind of data you want to keep track of (that is, if you want what you identify to appear for fellow colleagues rather than for yourself only).
Apart from the example, you need not learn all the
detailed tutorials or teaching about XML here. I
have supplied links for that purpose below, and I
highly recommend them as I use them daily. Follow also the links in
this page and it will give quick explanations of XML and so forth, or
look below for helpful definitions. You will also
find Document Type Definitions (DTD's) for e-textnology and
for ETD's which you may freely use. I've included hypertext versions of
these DTD's so that you can easily browse and come to understand them (for
this I thank Duncan Chen for his
excellent [alas, Windows-only] program "ezDTD").
In short look at this sentence:
In Carlo Michelstaedter's Persuasione e rettorica, there is a highly original treatment of modernity and extremes of fin de siècle angst.
We see three italicized text portions:
Conventional wordprocessing has made such ambiguity "standard." Anyone
who has had to reformat a document from one publisher--or software--to
another knows how frustrating this can be. XML makes the identification
of information much more specific. So, in the example above (which is
done in normal HTML), the
phrases have really only been marked (in what the computer reads)
with ambiguous italics :
<i> highly original </i>
This kind of marking assumes every reader knows what italicizing signifies, and that all computers can read it (which, we all know, is not often the case!!). With XML we would have a different marking that you would tell the computer about each part (in sort of the same way you'd tell it to italicize something):
Aside from the obvious increase in precision, there are other advantages. For instance, anything you ever write using these tags (or ones like them for your discipline, for instance) can be reformatted--however many documents you've done this way--simply by telling one file to "make all titles italic, all foreign underlined," etc. You never have to re-format the content itself, just tell your computer what you want it to do with all "title" parts, or "emphasis" parts, etc. Thus your original content is always "safe" from later re-formatting. You don't have to risk damaging your composition just to change its rendition. Plus XML takes up less disk space than most word-processing documents, are Year 2000 safe, and ANYONE can read them on their computer.
You can also use this for more precise searching. You can choose all occasions of Shakespeare as author, or distinguish between a search for Coleridge's Xanadu and the song by Olivia Newton-John. Check out the links above to learn more, or go back to the top.