TEI Board Meeting: 16 October 2011
Sarah Wells
Certification of the meeting

The meeting was certified at ~8:00 UTC, with the following members present: John Unsworth (JU), Lou Burnard (LB), Daniel O'Donnell (DO), Susan Schreibman (SS), John Walsh (JW), Sarah Wells (SW), Sophie David (SD), Marin Dacos (MD), and James Cummings (JC), representing Oxford.

Arianna Ciulla, Laurent Romary, and Wayne Graham were unable to attend.

Opening Business

Before appointing officers, there was some discussion about how to handle the upcoming change of Board membership at the end of the year. Since two members of the Board are finishing their terms this year and four new members will be beginning their terms in January, the Board decided to vote for officers through the end of this year and then revisit them in January.

There was some discussion of whether it would be useful to schedule a face-to-face meeting of all or part of the Board early in 2012. Phone conferences raise a host of problems, not least of which are unreliable connections and language problems for non-native speakers of English trying to follow an often rapid discussion with several participants. LB raised the possibility of holding a meeting in Paris in January, which could be attended by European members of the Board. North American participants might join the meeting by phone, if necessary. Alternatively, a face-to-face meeting could be scheduled around the DH conference in July.

Appoint Officers

JU was formerly welcomed and voted in as interim Chair. The Board also thanked him for stepping in on short notice.


SW, the outgoing Secretary, is stepping down, and JW volunteered to take over beginning in January. The Board provisionally approved JW (to be finalized by next year's Board). SW will remain as Secretary through the end of the year.

Treasurer and Membership Secretary

SW wishes to step down as Treasurer, but will serve until a successor is appointed. Dot Porter of Indiana University has expressed interest in taking over, but she does not have the administrative support to handle the accounting tasks. The Treasurer position and associated accounting tasks (such as receiving payments and bills processing) have been handled by the University of Virginia for the past several years, but accounting tasks could be outsourced to an external accountant. Virginia is willing to continue these tasks at least through the end of year, to allow time to move files and possibly change banks.

This year, the Treasurer took over some of the tasks of the Membership Secretary, including issuing membership invoices, maintaining the membership database, and handling membership requests. The Board decided that these tasks should remain with the Treasurer for the time being.

That being agreed upon, the remaining duties of the Membership Secretary include recruitment and maintenance of membership. If a paid external accountant handles the daily accounting work, would it make sense to ask the new Treasurer to take on the Membership Secretary position as well? JU proposed that he approach Dot Porter to take over both, and that TEI find more efficient methods for handling our membership maintenance tasks. JU has already asked Webmaster David Sewell (DS) to investigate open source tools designed for non-profits needing to track membership information. DO is willing to work w/DS to coordinate that effort with the ZenCart set-up we have for receiving credit card payments and hopefully combine everything together.

This leaves the element of recruitment duties for membership. Is that something that everyone is responsible for or membership secretary? JU will talk to DP and see how much she is willing and able to undertake.

Council Chair

JU had previously asked the Council for nominations for the Council Chair and was given three: Laurent Romary, Sebastian Rahtz, and JC. JC recused himself, and after a brief discussion the Board appointed JC as Council Chair. JC's term on Council ends in December, 2012, so a replacement representative will need to be brought in to replace him. The Board also noted with much gratitude Laurent’s four years of service as Council Chair.

SIG Coordinator

The SIG Coordinator position, currently empty, is not specified in the bylaws, but the position has been around for the past few years. Right now, there are ten SIGs, with regular additions and subtractions. SS and LR had a template for process of forming SIGs. Originally, the SIG Coordinator position was intended to be a minder for individual SIGs, but that was not a success. The position has proved most effective when held by someone who can advocate directly to the Board and/or Council, i.e., a Board or Council member. JU proposed that SS be SIG Coordinator until she leaves Board in January, when the Board can appoint a replacement.

There was some discussion of the place and function of SIGS. LB noted that the SIGs shouldn’t be only way to engage with the community. There is danger in setting up a situation where only members of approved groups have access to grant money (which is currently earmarked for SIGs). JU pointed out that these don’t replace workshops and the like, and DO suggested that SIGs could be widened and not so exclusive. LB advocated for Board activity that fosters community engagement. Maybe the SIG grants could be renamed TEI community grants? The Board decided to address that question later, and SS was approved as interim SIG Coordinator.


JU clarified the editorial infrastructure line item on the 2011 budget. The TEI budget follows the calendar year (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31), but Oxford’s fiscal year ends in May, spanning two of TEI's budget years.

The tasks covered by that budget item include pushing out new releases integrating new elements and writing guidelines. Now that TEI is moving away from the host model, these tasks need to be distributed. The Council has been working to cover the editorial process amongst Council members. LB suggests that money for editorial infrastructure should be given to the Council to distribute as it sees fit. The Council members could assign tasks to particular people inside and outside the Council. This could be done as in-kind work or as individual bids by Council members, partners, or others.

DO raised the problem of how to set a reasonable prospective budget for editorial tasks. One possibility is to give the Council a a flat sum based on past allotments (e.g., $20,000 for travel and $18,000 for technical work). This, this might be problematic in practice, however. Alternatively, the Board might ask the Council to set a budget request. This requires the Council to make a best guess of how much travel and editorial work will be required.

SS pointed out that the Board could ask for a one-page budget estimate from the SIGs, the Council, and the Board. For 2012, this would cover meetings, activities and services, community involvement grants, database revisions, and membership recruitment. JU proposed that we ask for these summaries. JU and the new Treasurer would do Board, JC would provide a Council budget, and SS would do SIG. The drafts could be pulled together in the next couple of weeks and sent to JU by Oct. 31. The Council will review their budget at their upcoming face-to-face meeting in Paris Nov. 7-10 and then resubmit if necessary by Nov. 15. The Board can discuss and vote on them on-line.

SD suggested setting priorities first and then assigning X% towards various activities. This approach would consider how the Board wants to divide up the pie. JU suggested that it is difficult to set things in abstract, so it might be best to start with estimates, then looking at them and review past trends. The Board can then decide to allocate more or less to important tasks. Once we have preliminary numbers, we can post them to the list. JU will post them with percentages and Board can debate on-line.

MD is confused about not setting priorities before generating numbers. What about new things? Translating and upgrading website will be included in Board budget.

Contracting for services

We were using KPMG for taxes, but did not renew the contract in 2011. Richard Ruttenberg, an Illinois-based CPA, was contacted by Martin Mueller in the summer of 2011 and asked to provide an estimate for filing the TEI taxes and taking on bookkeeping tasks. He gave us an estimate of $1,000 for taxes and $3,000 for bookkeeping. Since Virginia is still handling accounting, we contracted with him to file our taxes. Assuming that the Treasurer position works out as discussed earlier, we will contract with him for bookkeeping in 2012. DO suggested that the Treasurer pay attention to how this works out to per transaction cost.

Membership Discussion

DO pointed out that the mix of income sources is shifting: less is coming from memberships. We could allow people to “pay” yearly membership invoices in-kind, which might be documented by receipts at the end of the year (e.g., covering travel costs to meeting, putting on conference). That might be easier for some European institutions than paying cash up-front for membership. However, we would need to exert quality control: if the in-kind effort proves low-quality or not useful, we would need way to revise the agreement.

Host RFP

We need to announce meetings locations for 2012 and 2013, so we need to issue an RFP for 2013. We will maintain our pattern of switching between Europe and North America in opposition with the DH conferences,, so 2013 should be in Europe.

We need a Board Program Chair and committee to oversee 2012 conference. JU suggests that the new Board address that in January. We will also need to appoint a Nominations Committee. Traditionally one of the newly elected people heads that committee.

Members’ Meeting

There is concern about how to make sure that conference organizers have enough money to cover costs. The current arrangement is that we provide up to $5200 to conference organizers to cover costs for a conference attended by 125 people and they can bill for extra, but any net income returns to TEI. SS questioned this formula, since organizers take the risk and TEI takes profit. Costs are going up, and organizers might be able to plan better with a higher advance guarantee. If local costs are high, it is impossible to front the costs of a reasonable quality event. It would be easier for hosts to plan for receptions and higher quality breaks if they had more control over minimum budget. It also would enable organizers to offer TEI members cheaper registration.

The Board agreed that local host should be able to arrange workshops as they wish. Workshops are not part of conference, so the local host can set up and charge as needed.

The ADHO model is for local hosts to take all the risk, set registration fees, and keep all profit. ADHO kicks in $5,000 to the conference budget if the hosts validate ADHO membership at registration. But, TEI wants to keep conference registration fees affordable for attendees. Conference is now major activity, DO pointed out, and we should find a way for TEI to earn money from them. Alternatives include asking hosts to guarantee a sum or percentage from the net profits, or increasing the local host’s budget as they bring in more sponsors and attendees. We could also fix the registration price and minimum number of attendees in conference bid requirements, and include travel costs in calculations (some places are more expensive to reach).

JW suggested increasing the $5200 guarantee to $6500. (This would be a guarantee of up to $6550, not a flat amount). The exception would be for a partner proposal (an institution could include conference hosting in a partner bid), since in that case the costs would be part of in-kind work.

Conference RFP for the next two years

Texas A&M (Laura Mandell) and Saskatoon (Peter Robinson) have expressed interest in hosting. JU will invite bids from both, asking about both 2012 and 2014, and can check in with Montreal for 2014.

SIG Discussion

The discussion returned to previous concerns over SIGs being perceived as exclusive, It might be useful to differentiate between Special Interest Group (SIG) grants and Community Involvement Grants (CIG). A CIG might fund someone travelling to a small conference to talk about TEI/DH, outreach to a group that has never been tapped by TEI, tool development and training. for example. We would need to build momentum and a timetable to give people time to build ideas, through an RFP with a deadline, perhaps once or twice a year.

JU suggested issuing an RFP twice a year with two amounts, one for SIGs and one for CIGs, so as to avoid competition between the two audiences. LB pointed out that SIGs are quite interested in community activities and promotion, not just suggestions for edits to guidelines, so they could apply for both.

MD suggested encouraging outside and inside projects, not differentiating so long as the quality is good. We could put out a single call at the beginning of year, so that earlier applicants would have a better chance and access to a larger pool of money.

DO suggested that two RFPs a year would allow a clearer time frames to put a proposal together and to organize in advance. The first call would ask for budgets between $500-$1500 and specify a total pool of $4000. Anything left over could be added to the pool for the second round.

JU proposed two RFPs for Community Initiative Grants, due October 1 and April 1, with a total budget of $4000 each. We can specify that we seek proposals between $500-$1500, but we will consider others. If we don’t spend all in first round, we will announce increased available for second round. The proposals can come from individuals or groups that are members of community or interested in doing work for community, including SIGs, software developers, and technical writers. The RFPs should include bulleted lists of things that we want to fund (travel to deliver to new audience, documentation, training, translations, etc.). SS will draft RFP and circulate to Board, then will post to TEI-L list. The first call will go out on December 1, for the April 1 deadline.

Council Discussion

There is a proposal from Council to simplify the many licenses used by the TEI and where possible use the same license. After extensive debate the TEI Council proposes to dual-license most outputs as BSD 2-Clause and Creative Commons Attribution (unported version 3.0). The dual license will allow users to choose to abide by the terms of whichever license they wish or suits their use of the materials (e.g. an ODD could be used as either documentation or as software). Both licenses, essentially, require some form of attribution, but do not otherwise restrict use of the materials. The Board was reminded that TEI isn’t bound by the licensing, and we can use another license for someone else. It was deemed undesirable for users to have to keep coming to the Consortium for permissions to alter things.

How to differentiate between what is TEI and what is modified TEI? If we want to retain control beyond attribution, we are raising costs for users of using TEI. JW moved to adopt Council’s recommendations for licensing. Approved.

Web site translation

MD noted that TEI needs to reach people who are afraid of computers and XML. XML is already a foreign language for many, and TEI's reliance on English creates another barrier to prospective audiences. The TEI web site should be more welcoming and accessible to both beginners and non English speakers. MD recommended that we have pages for beginners (including students and administration) in English, and provide translations. The home page should be aimed at beginners. The current www.tei-c.org home and the TEI community seem too closed, too technical, too aimed at skilled users, too English, and timid or confused users quickly leave. But there are actually many opportunities and support resources in the community, which need to be highlighted.

MD suggested having a blog on front page, addressing basic topics, with newsfeed, and a FAQ and newsletter. The TEI Journal should also be more visible. There should be a link for experienced users going to more advanced pages. The first level of the site should be easy to understand, and available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Italian, etc.

This brought up the problem of getting good translations. JU mentioned a Microsoft widget, community-curated translations, that provides an initial automatic translation, which can then be corrected and massaged by TEI community members fluent in the language.

There was some discussion about how to handle bookmarking, since we would be juggling multiple copies of a page. How would it be kept up-to-date? LB noted that he is working on a French-language web site with Adonis, aimed at meeting the needs of Adonis in France, that includes pointers to projects, lists of tools, current activities centered on TEI stuff in France. Will include French version of TEI By Example. This might work in some cases, where an entirely separate or associated web site centered around local use could be built. But, would we want federated style of maintaining the web site?

This sort of work would require more coordination than we want to ask of our Webmaster. These are more strategic and editorial tasks, so perhaps it would make sense to appoint a web editor to work with the web master. We could also look for suggestions of new content management tools (no more OpenCMS?) that would allow people to publish from TEI source data.

This sort of task might require an information architect, who could create a multi-lingual framework that works well on mobiles, has consistent look and feel to protect brand. The goal would be to develop robust framework for an international and friendly presence. The Board could request bids from members and from commercial vendors.

MD will write a few paragraphs on what he thinks the site should do and contain. JU can develop breakdown of tasks that we want bids on and check into Microsoft widget.


The Council may wish to nominate a chair and then ask Board to elect that person. It will discuss this at its next meeting, as well as the evolution of the guidelines.

Priorities for the coming year

There was discussion of questions that the Council is addressing, following up on JU's survey of Council and Board candidates' priorities (as discussed in yesterday Business Meeting). The roadmap to P6 got support from candidates, but the Birnbaum doctrine (which decrees that changes in the Guideline schemas should not invalidate existing documents) is the Council's method for determining when a new P# is required. The Birnbaum doctrine encourages backward compatibility, but allows for that principle to be violated if doing so is necessitated by new technologies that have substantial benefits. New major versions (e.g., P6) imply this violation of backward compatibility.

The Board would like the Council to determine where we are right now in that scale, and to comment on the implications of a new version. Libraries are less than enthusiastic about new versions, particularly if they generate migration and backward compatibility problems. A stable version is beneficial to users, so would need to address concerns of librarians et al. We haven’t been enforcing deprecation conflicts, but rather giving warnings. P6 isn’t a good marketing feature for us, so It may make sense to try for a version P5.xx. Some changes may be invisible to end user but still necessary. So the question becomes, how long will it be before there are compelling reasons to break backwards compatibility and put out a new version?

Other issues that had come up on candidates' priority list were: building a TEI repository, encouraging the development of 3rd party tools, and more on-ramp services for beginners. It makes sense to spend our resources on activities that other groups are not doing (e.g., the TAPAS project's work building a repository and training, DARIAH's intent to offer TEI training in Europe). TEI can promote those external efforts and encouraging people to take advantage of them. It might also be helpful to match users with local technical help and instruction and/or to build a network of mentors or regional contact people. Outreach and marketing to raise TEI's public profile and advertise the brand would be useful, so that people want to learn more about it. E.g., perhaps we should have a brochure to distribute at conferences, so people will be encouraged to learn how to use TEI.

It might be helpful to collaborate with other digital humanities centers (such as centerNet). For example, we might arrange for TEI experts to offer a free half-day of consulting to would-be TEI users as in-kind effort in return for individual TEI subscriptions. Similarly, DH Answers service could be a tool for offering basic TEI guidance or helping interested users find local support and workshops.

MD suggested:submitting the TEI Journal to the OpenEdition Freemium distribution service. Libraries subscribe to Freemium list, and receive a bundle of 100 journals.TEI could provide free and full access to TEI Journal and Guidelines, and TEI subscribers and members would get access. JU proposed that Board agree to have TEI Journal and guidelines included in the Freemium bundle for distribution under their regular terms. And, TEI members and subscribers would be given access to TEI Journal and guidelines. MD will investigate the nitty gritty for including guidelines. This was accepted by the Board.

Final thanks

The Board noted with thanks the service of retiring Board members.

Last recorded change to this page: 2011-11-15  •  For corrections or updates, contact web@tei-c.org