I want to commend the following article by Gregory Crane:
This article is a MUST READ for anyone who cares about the preservation of our cultural heritage, especially the preservation of texts.
In many ways, his call for open data that make texts available for infinite re-use, in human and machine actionable form, is what the Sentences Commentary Text Archive and the LombardPress publication framework are aiming to achieve. See an overview of the system here.
Today, traditional publication through a for-profit corporation ironically ends up betraying the name “publication.” Rather than making a text more accessible, it actual makes a text more expensive, harder to access, and therefore less public. The internet makes the free and universal dissemination of our texts possible for the first time. If this is a genuine possibility for us now, as it never has been before, why would we do anything else?
Gregory Crane writes:
First, the decision to stop handing over ownership of new textual data (and especially any textual data produced with any significant measure of public funding) is, in 2015, a purely political one. There is no practical reason not to make this change immediately. If it takes editors an extra six months or a year (and it should not) because they need to learn how to produce a digital edition, the delay is insignificant in comparison to the damage that scholars suffer when they hand over control of the reconstructed text for 25 years and of the textual notes, introduction and other materials for 70 years after their death.
If you’re convinced by Gregory Crane’s article and you’re interested in working on a edition (critical or diplomatic) of any part or fragment of a medieval Sentences commentary – perhaps as part of your dissertation or as a by product of an article you are working on – please consider publishing it with the SCTA and LombardPress. Because our goal is open access, you’ll be able to do anything else you want with the text, but we can disseminate your text throughout the web as well as help you produce beautiful html and print versions. Please contact jcwitt [at] loyola [dot] edu if you are genuinely interested. It is our aim to make the vast corpus of Sentences commentaries (nearly 1,000 commentaries spanning 5 centuries) universally accessible and open for infinite re-use. We want these texts to be both useful for present purposes of scholars, but also available for purposes that have not been imagined.