#DiXiTforever

Almost two years after my fellowship has officially ended and half a year from DiXiT farewell event in Crete is maybe good time to judge it’s effect on me. Only trouble is: it doesn’t seem like there has actually been an end to DiXiT since I am regularly in touch work-wise and privately with my fellow #dixiteers, through projects, conferences, workshops and obviously the odd pint or cake every now and then. I take it the ITN has undeniably succeeded in creating a network that functions smoothly even after the project has stopped and which has meanwhile expanded far beyond its partner institutions.

Teaching a workshop in Athens in May 2017

Brief flashback to early 2014: I was working primarily for the University of Warsaw, juggling motherly responsibilities with freelance jobs in academia. Since forever I was specializing in databases and for quite a long time I used XML and TEI in particular in my projects. Now I am a software developer and project manager for eXist Solutions responsible for several editorial projects and still I breathe TEI in and out every day.

On a very superficial level after 4 years I have returned to where I started: back in Warsaw and back to working on research projects. There is a substantial change in the scope and manner of my work though. The projects I assist are hugely distributed geographically and cover a broad range of disciplines while I no longer remain the sole person responsible for their technical side but can rely on experience and support of my colleagues. My perspective on the TEI has also dramatically shifted – from the end user, only interested in a subset of it, into the TEI Technical Council member, with a need and responsibility for critical overview of TEI as a whole.

It seemed to happen in a blink of an eye but obviously it has been (and still is) a process of filling in my new shoes and I have many people to thank for it. It was and is ultimately down to their personal willingness and generosity to share their time and knowledge (as well as occasional push in the right direction) that I owe all the opportunities to learn and grow. In retrospect it may look like quite a logical chain of events. From TEI power user in Warsaw – to research fellow in Oxford working with TEI giants and ultimately running up for a seat on the TEI Council. From using eXist-db as my XML database of choice – to joining eXist Solutions team. There is still a huge serendipity factor which brought together various people in just the ripe time and this factor is undeniably DiXiT. The initial months of my ER fellowship in Oxford and our scheduled training camps plus general exposure to DH world through seminars and conferences, and subsequently a more flexible period in which I could follow my interests and strengths have led me to focus on the TEI processing. First it happened through the TEI Simple project which developed the TEI Processing Model but later was seamlessly picked up in my new job through the development of the TEI Publisher.

TEI Simple meeting Berlin 2015

In October 2014 I was presenting the concept and prototype for the TEI Processing Model at the TEI Conference in Chicago and in May of 2015 I have organized the first workshop on it. Ever since I am leaving a steady trail of conference papers, workshops and hackathons at major DH and TEI events and in barely a week I will do so again in Victoria for yet another TEI conference. From the rough prototype we have reached a stage of out-of-the-box product that is openly sourced, actively developed, used in production for very large projects and, as far as I can judge, starts gaining momentum on its own. I am rather pleased how it goes to say the least.

If you ask me over a pint, I will tell you that DiXiT was my dream job. I will also tell you that currently I am also in a dream job even if somewhat different one. What makes it so good in both cases are two factors: people I work with and freedom to follow my strengths and interest. There is not a person involved in DiXiT whom I haven’t admired, from whom I haven’t learned, and who hasn’t shown me kindness and support at one time or another. When work is fun and some very cool gals and guys surround you life is not miserable at all. Cheers!

eXist logo recreated on a beach during a DiXiT work meeting in 2017


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