ER4: Gioele Barabucci — Tool integration in the digital edition.

Hi there, I am Gioele Barabucci, Marie Curie Experienced Researcher 4 in Cologne (or Köln, as they spell it here). I have landed at the Cologne Center for eHumanities after many years at the University of Bologna.

My main research interests are comparison algorithms (also known as diff algorithms) and the representation of differences between documents. These two topics are the backbone of the ER4 DiXiT fellowship: helping the creation of digital scholarly editions in collaborative environments with practical tools.

In the recent years it has been noticed how the initial tasks of scholars that work on critical editions is similar to that of diff algorithms: comparing many documents and finding which parts are common to all or some of them and which part are different. There are indeed great tools like CollateX that can help scholars doing the bulk of the preliminary comparison work.

What I am really interested in is what comes after this dry step in which texts are compared. Scholars do not just find the differences, they study them. These differences are just a starting point for them to start digging into the content and the history of the documents they are studying. For example, why did this copyist monk remove this line? Censorship? Drowsiness caused by a too big lunch? Or, maybe, this line has not been copied because its last word is identical to the last work of the previous line; in the haste of the copying, the eyes of the monk skipped one line. This is a common transcription error and goes after the name of omissio ex homoioteleuto.

My plan is to turn many of these philological phenomena into mathematical formulas that could then be implemented in computer programs. The point of these computer applications is not to replace the philologists but to spare them from having to analyze every single minute change, allowing them to spend more time on the differences that they feel are more important.

You may have noticed quite a bit of handwaving in the previous paragraphs. Yes, there are many details to be ironed out and gaps to be filled before a working formalization of these phenomena and be made to work in an effective and efficient way. But given the experience I gained during my PhD on these topics, I am confident that this aim is reachable and that this project will be a nice contribution to the toolbox of digital scholars, especially to the other DiXiT fellows how are embarking right now in the creation of new digital scholarly editions.

Wish me luck (or viel Erfolg, as they say in Köln).

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