At the invitation of Daniel Ridings, I visited the Sprakdata Unit at Goteborgs University at the beginning of May. This unit, which is distinct from the Linguistics Dept, was set up originally by Swedish Acdemician Sture Allen, and is the major lexicographical and NLP research centre in Sweden. I gave a two hour lecture on the subject of the British National Corpus, followed by an extended demonstration of the capabalities of SARA to an audience of about 15 lexicographers and others, which seemed to be much appreciated. On the second day of my visit, I gave a boiled-down version of the standard TEI workshop to students on the second year of the University's Computational Linguistics course, with an emphasis on the implications of TEI markup for lexical data, at the invitation of Riding's colleague Pernilla Danielsson. Danielsson and Ridings are collaborating on a project called PEDANT, which is an aligned multilingual corpus, using TEI markup and the toolkit developed by Henry Thomson as part of the Multext project, which we discussed at some length. I also met Steffan Larsson and colleagues from the Linguistics Dept at Goteborg, who have developed their own complex annotation scheme for the markup of a spoken Swedish corpus, and with whom I discussed the possibility of converting their markup scheme to TEI conformance. My BNC lecture was also attended by Gary Ward, a systems programmer from the University of Vaxjo, which is also attempting to set up a SARA server. With assistance from technicians at Goteborg, we were able to make considerable progress in getting the current version working, to the point where we were able to determine that there really was a bug in the server (since fixed by Scotty, I am glad to report).
The third day of my visit to Sweden, being Sunday, I spent visiting the Goteborg museum (splendid collection of late 19th century soft porn) and getting rained on in various picturesque locations, before heading to Bergen to participate in an encoding seminar being organized by the NCCH's Wittgenstein Archive. Part of the reason for this workshop, it was explained to me, was to prepare local staff and staff from other Norwegian centres for the forthcoming ALLC conference; I suspect it was also to field-trial the splendid new facilities being made available for said conference in Bergen's new Law Faculty building. Whatever the reason, I very much enjoyed the opportunity of re-running the boiled-down TEI workshop for the benefit of an intelligent and alert audience. In the time available, it was not possible to do a full hands-on session, but I was able to run through the exercises I had prepared (loading an untagged file into A/E, tagging it, building a header, exporting it, viewing it with Panorama, etc.) which seemed to be much appreciated. After the seminar, Claus Huitfeldt, Peter Cripps and I discussed somewhat inconclusively how the TEI/MECS Workshop planned for the start of the ALLC conference should be organized. I think we decided that we'd do them in parallel, sort of. I also met Lars Johnsen, the new head of NCCH, a former corpus linguist turned administrator, as well as old friends from Bergen. The second day of the workshop was given over to Allen Renear, from Brown, who gave an intriguing historical overview of the development of what he called the ontology of texts, from platonism (as characterized by the Brownian OHCO model) through liberalism (the view that there are many possible hierarchies) to anti-realism (the view that text has no reality aside from that projected onto them). Renear characterized the last as being "fashionable", which I take to mean "wrong".
Committments in Oxford meant that I was regrettably unable to stay for the remainder of this Workshop, which was to include a discussion of MECS and how it differed from TEI, so I took the customary large lunch at Hotel Norge before returning home on Tuesday evening.
After two days' frenetic but parochial activity in Oxford, I set off for Innsbruck, via Munich, in the company of Mike Popham. Our objective was partly to find out what exactly the NOLA project might be or might become, and partly to get a little time quietly to discuss the two other meetings to which I had committed Mike's time this month. Once arrived in Innsbruck, I developed a streaming cold, not helped by the rain which had followed me from Goteborg, which may have somewhat coloured my view of the ensuing meeting.
The meeting was organized by Allan Janik, of the Brenner Archiv, and attended by Heinz Hauffe of the Innsbruck University Library, Donald Broady of the Royal Institute for Technoloy at Stockholm, Lars Johnsen from Bergen in addition to Mike and me. Its purpose was to review the the NOLA proposal for funding under the EU's Libraries Programme, recasting it in the light of criticisms received so far. There was a general feeling that much work needed to be done, particularly in recasting the relationship of the project to the TEI, and in involving more prominent library activities. I had hoped that the work being done at the Bodleian in extending the TEI Header to handle manuscript materials might be of some relevance here, but this remains to be seen. Mike Popham's excellent minutes (soon to be available from the NOLA web page at http://???) summarize the chief areas discussed and the future plans of the group.
Mike and I then spent a very useful day preparing an initial position paper for the Oxford Text Archive to present at the first Service Providers Forum meeting of the AHDS, and in discussing Mike's presentation at the Princeton workshop on Software for the Humanities, before going our separate ways -- he back to Munich and thence to Princeton, I into the Tyrol and thence to Munich for the SGML96 conference. It continued to rain.