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The rendering of humanities information in a digital context: Current trends and future developments

Susan Hockey (School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




The purpose of this paper is to consider how digital resources might best be created and how the digital medium might best be exploited to serve the needs of research and teaching in the humanities.


The history of text‐based humanities computing is traced to illustrate the complexity of humanities sources and the requirements for their representation in digital form.


The paper finds that digital information is completely different from any other kind of information, being dynamic, extensible and manipulable in many different ways. It is not static and it can be manipulated in many different ways. The Extensible Markup Language (XML) has been widely adopted in the humanities particularly for full text sources encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative application. XML permits the display, analysis and manipulation of fine detail within a document. It also facilitates the chunking of information and the integration of data and metadata leading to new forms of publication that exploit the digital medium to the full.

Research limitations/implications

The research environment proposed in this paper challenges current modes of working with a more innovative approach to the nature and functionality of digital representations of humanities sources.


The paper looks at the development of humanities computing and should be helpful for anyone embarking on or managing a humanities digital project.



Hockey, S. (2006), "The rendering of humanities information in a digital context: Current trends and future developments", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 58 No. 1/2, pp. 89-101.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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