TEI: TEI Board Meeting Minutes (Rome; Sunday, 6 October 2013, 9:00-16:00)

Publication information

Minutes: Glen Worthey

TEI Board Meeting Minutes (6 October 2013, Rome)

In attendance:

    Voting members:

  • Marjorie Burghart (MB)
  • Lou Burnard (LB)
  • Arianna Ciula (AC)
  • Elena Pierazzo (EP)
  • John Walsh (JW)
  • Glen Worthey (GW)

  • Sebastian Rahtz (in place of James Cummings, as Council Chair) (SR)
  • John Unsworth (Treasurer) (JU)

  • Minutes
  • Members, memberships, levels of memberships
  • Outreach, training
  • Website hosting and development
  • Electoral procedures
  • Future lines of development
  • TEI-Nudge
Selection of 2014 Board officers

As all members of the incoming 2014 Board are currently in the room, decision to select next year’s chair now (rather than to wait until the new board is officially installed).

  • Chair – Motion to ask Elena to continue as Chair; seconded, and approved unanimously.
  • Secretary – Motion to nominate John Walsh to continue in this role; seconded and approved unanimously.
  • Membership secretary – (outgoing membership secretary is Laura Mandell; Arianna was joint membership secretary for Europe.) Decided that this arrangement of dual secretaries is useful and should continue in 2014. Arianna and John W. nominated as co-membership secretaries, beginning in January 2014; Laura Mandell will be asked please to continue her work until the end of her term during transition.
  • Treasurer – John U. asked to continue as treasurer, approved unanimously.
Members, memberships, levels of memberships

JU reports that currently, 67 institutional members; 50 individual subscribers.

General agreement that change in bylaws allowing individual memberships has brought a substantial number of new members.

As discussed earlier over email, JU will grant complimentary 1-year membership to all attendees of TEI MM 2013 who registered at higher non-member rate; hope is that these will want to re-subscribe next year (and being members, they will receive an automatic renewal reminder).

Discussion of offering 2-year membership (e.g., to support those who only attend MM on their own continent).

Discussion of tracking down those institutions who have left — EP suggests opening a dialog with these, asking what could make it more attractive for them to return. Belief that this would be a worthwhile effort, even going back to those who’ve dropped membership several years ago.

Discussion of requesting projects to become $500 members — perhaps a campaign to appeal to these, offer endorsements of project.

Thanks to Lou for bringing in two fairly large French members.

General agreement that highest priority is to offer more concrete membership benefits, and to publicize them better. AC suggests systematizing this effort: look at which geographic areas are poorly covered.

Strategies for encouraging geographic members: ask a host country with few current institutional members.

MB suggests offering beginners’ workshops jointly with conference, in language of the host country. TEI-C to offer support for these. Low-cost, high-impact. General agreement that this would be an excellent idea.

This brainstorming is meant to serve as a beginning for efforts by the membership secretary.

Levels of membership: Martin Mueller’s suggestion (made by email) to reduce number of membership levels was discussed, and the unanimous opinion of those present was that, as long as there are some members who are indeed paying at each level, there’s no compelling reason to simplify the membership levels menu at this point.

Outreach, training

We should pay attention to survey results, feedback at training, etc., that clearly indicate that people perceive the TEI to be too large, too difficult, etc. (whether or not these are fair complaints).

EP reports that she asked Michael Gavin to reconvene the Education SIG, to which he agreed. Action on Sebastian: to inform James (as SIG coordinator) of this fact. Action on Elena: to contact Michael to confirm him as SIG convener, and to be in touch with James.

A perception problem: that TEI is old-fashioned, not current, “it’s just your grandfather’s Humanities Computing” etc. Should we do something about it?

Discussion of possible reasons for this:

  • Developer-side, it’s too flexible to write reliable code for it.
  • Scholar-side: steep learning curve, and afterward, hard to do something with our files.
  • “General” perceptions: it’s already done, no longer interesting. The Consortium is closed or elitist, etc.
  • JW: notes things like JSON vs. XML debate; current interest in topic modeling.

Suggestions for remediating this set of perceptions:

  • TEI-focused panel at DH. Action on Glen (with help from Arianna): organize such a panel proposal in time for Nov. 1 DH submission deadline.
  • Special issue of DHQ, LLC, JDH (first requiring blog posts, etc.) — invitation to community, but also rely have insiders — and ensuring that contrary views are invited. Action on ??
  • Both DH panel and journal special issue should, e.g., highlight more interesting uses of TEI text (e.g., Brian Pytlik-Zillig’s Whitman movie presented at the Members’ Meeting) — but also more explicitly TEI-powered, or TEI-enabled research). LB and SR note that these demonstrations are not necessarily compelling arguments in favor of TEI.
  • EP: On technical side, to re-engage with developers: organize a sort of TEI hackathon, perhaps around DH meeting. JU: Those who work with plain text (e.g., for clustering) can only go so far: how about using plain-text structuring to infer markup? EP: how about a challenge explicitly to use markup to do something interesting? (SR notes that such a challenge could backfire: some developer could do the same thing with plain text– but LB points out that this is a dichotomy we should resist making or encouraging.) JU offers the idea of having a D3+TEI challenge — possible to invite specific people? Offer bursaries? Open a competition? Action on Council: to discuss organizing such a thing in the very near future. Action on John W and Council: to come up with a proposed budget amount for this.
  • TEI THATCamp (to engage less with developers than with younger DHers)
  • Highlight / feature projects on the TEI-C website to showcase particular interesting uses of TEI — by invitation, by nomination, etc. (LB notes that one of his most successful TEI introductory moves is to reveal such uses.)

EP notes (as a separate discussion, and not as a proposal for TEI) that all of our current DH publications are not at all focused on developers. How can we engage developers in publication? — This is meant more as a proposal for collaboration with ADHO. JU offers the idea that we can support a developer-specific rubric in an existing journal. EP will organize a meeting in Lausanne to discuss. MB notes (and EP agrees) that this may not necessarily be appropriate for TEI, but that TEI community would be invited to participate.

Training materials

“Getting Started” guide — the effort seems not to have been completed. Would money help? (Similarly, Peter Boot’s effort to write TEI introduction (what was the title of this effort??) years ago was never completed.) There must be real reasons for this that should be addressed.

LB has a book currently under review that will be an Introductory TEI guide — the book (if indeed published) will be available under open access. But believes that this book will not (and should not) the only such effort!

Discussion about whether it’s within the Consortium’s (or Board’s, or Council’s) mandate to provide such training materials. With some reservations, consensus was that it is indeed. Discussion about whether this is appropriate activity to assign to a SIG; LB recalls a sort of predecessor to SIGs: Working groups, which fell on hard times both due to lack of funds and to the nature of the assignment (i.e., people self-identifying and self-organizing as interested parties tend to work better). EP reminds us that Board last year (or before?) decided that training was such a central concern that we should not wait for reconstitution of Education SIG.

EP proposes, if Laura is not able to complete this work, that it be assigned to someone (e.g., a graduate student) to complete, and that budget be used to pay for such work. Action on Elena: to come up with a proposed budget amount for this.

Basic tasks in organizing education materials:

  • Survey what is available in the community (e.g., Brown WWP training materials, etc.);
  • Classify existing materials according to level of training addressed (Sabine Bartsch offers to help with this);
  • Advertise training opportunities
  • Action on Laura Mandell: to complete the organization of these materials that she started; action on Glen to discuss this with Laura. Marjorie offers to join this effort (and Glen to continue in it).

Website hosting and development

Background: Site still hosted at Virginia; David Sewell kindly continues to administer, but this is far from sustainable; we’ve long since been asked to leave


  • JU suggests that we migrated the TEI-C website to the ADHO “One and One” hosted infrastructure (for which Chris Meister is contact).
  • SR notes that the migration won’t be at all trivial: notes the quantity and variety of TEI content.
  • JU concurs, and suggests that we should certainly budget for this migration. (If we were to offer to pay a portion of ADHO’s current hosting costs, it would likely be trivial, on the order of $500/year.).
  • JW notes that the “One and One” people were very helpful in the migration of DHQ.
  • EP notes that this discussion has stalled in the past over “ideological” issues such as whether all the content on our site is necessarily in TEI, etc.
  • SR notes that some sort of serious site-design exercise (alongside the “ideological” questions) must be done as part of any redesign.

Action on John W. and John U.: to co-chair website group (consisting of Elena; David Sewell; Brett; Martin H.) with mission to 1) contact Chris M./ADHO about this arrangement; 2) migrate current site, in current form, to One and One; 3) discussion about redesign. Action on John U.: to come up with a proposed amount to budget for this.

Electoral procedures

Discussion meant not to rehash the public misunderstandings during recent elections, but rather to address structural issues that may have led to them. (See MB’s suggestions on list, as well as Dot Porter’s.)

EP’s suggestions:

  • More transparently list all the requirements to be a candidate
  • More formally track the process of candidates
  • Have a clear checklist of tasks and responsibilities for Nominations (or Elections?) Cmte

Agreement that all these suggestions should lead to maximal flexibility, transparency, and conformance with the Bylaws.

Noted (and generally agreed) that our election procedures are indeed already very clear, and that our elections have indeed run very successfully for many years without problems (i.e., that this year’s elections were an anomaly), and that it is impossible to legislate for personalities for such misunderstandings. However, the consensus of the Board is that we should do our best to minimize the possibility for such, and to mitigate their personal consequences.

Action on John W and Glen: to draft documents reflecting these suggestions, present them to Board for discussion and approval.

Future lines of development

EP notes different broad options for setting longer-term goals and plans:

  • 1. Continue more or less as at present (perhaps doing more and better)
  • 2. Promotion of training opportunities, materials, etc.
  • 3. Advancement of TEI technologies — (Board’s role probably not to select a particular technology change, but rather to express a vision for advancement

Ideas for discussion

  • Increase membership: generally a good thing — though not essential from a budgetary point of view. Note that “more members” doesn’t necessarily mean “more users”; which do we really want?
  • Increase and advertise benefits of membership
  • Internationalization (incl. efforts at translation; targeting specific language communities — one incentive of which might be a translation of the Guidelines; dual-language abstracts). Action on Lou: to come up with a proposed amount to budget for this.
  • Ensure the place of the TEI in the bigger picture of DH which has sort of grown around the TEI (pursuing joint funding opportunities; making sure that we respond to
  • “Responding to the critics” — unclear how important or substantial these criticisms are, whether they’re a sign that we’re on the wrong path, whether they’re mainly intellectually interesting, etc.

EP summary of the “future lines of development” topic: We can present TEI as the “acid-free digital paper” — but is that all? EP invites reflection on whether we’re losing an opportunity to continue as a center of intellectual activity in the DH community — not only as a community of practice. Do we lose opportunities of “doing what we’re doing” because of our inactivity, lack of vision, etc. Would like to publicize “what we do, what we want to do” — some sort of vision statement.


  • Note the distinctive place of TEI in DH is as the longest-standing effort. TEI should be more outward-looking, less inward-looking. Should we seek to be “just a vocabulary” — is this our greatest aim, and is it sufficient?
  • Or is this “TEI just becoming a vocabulary” precisely the thing that will ensure its prominence and permanence? Depends on whether “vocabulary” means only an XML tag set, or can we move to embrace other technologies, e.g. RDF, HTML classes, etc. — i.e., to seek to understand the boundaries of XML, to make XML just “one of the possible TEI ways” of text encoding — perhaps preparing for a major change in P6. A “TEI Labs” — a venue for research activities in multiple new possible scenarios — ongoing research beyond just maintenance of the Guidelines.
  • TEI has become more document-centric and less text-centric over the past several years — LB and JW see this a truly significant and interesting change. So our question is: what is likely to be the next such change?
  • Shall we ask Council, in addition to doing its current work of maintenance and response, to dedicate some time to blue-sky thinking about the future and preparing for P6.
  • Shall we organize a Dagstuhl-style retreat (See http://www.dagstuhl.de/) to enable such blue-sky thinking? General approval of the idea.
  • MB proposes for future lines of development: TEI Cheatsheets, and what consequences they might have with regard to Guidelines, tool development. Much of what we’ve heard from community (e.g., need to simplify TEI) comes from a “Big-Data Humanities” point of view. Cheatsheets serve as a starting point to address other needs or requests from other small communities (e.g., ??). Likewise, uneasy with the Cheatsheets’ existence in the rather unstable (unproven, unvalidated, etc.) format of community-driven wiki. These offer a default way of doing something simple, and thus fill an important need. Desire expressed to involve Council (or perhaps TEI experts?) in vetting; note the need to validate each of these Cheatseets with every new release of the Guidelines to make sure it remains valid. In general, MB proposes some more formal and explicit type of ownership of these documents. Not intended to be normative; desire expressed not to make this yet another part of Council’s long-term duties.
  • JU notes the useful distinction between SIG (long-term community of interest) and a workgroup (short-term, specifically-tasked, etc.). Consensus that each Cheatsheet belongs to a particular SIG — also responsible for technical review, liaison with Council to determine whether a Cheatsheet is valid within the larger universe of which it’s a part.
  • (SR notes passimthat this discussion is strikingly similar to Martin M’s recent proposal for Council to “own” — validate, edit, keep track of, etc. — the Best Practices in Libraries document. General agreement that this is indeed the case.)

CLARIN-TEI relationship

AC reports on CLARIN workshop: TEI is used as a sort of reference structure (one of several) for its own work. Desire to continue working together; can we identify some models for collaboration that would work for TEI? CLARIN would like to have a more regular communication channel with TEI; no concrete proposal, but would like to take the ideas to another level.

Action item on Arianna: Work with Martin Wynne and Andreas Witt to draft some more concrete proposals to solidify (or encourage, or better enable, etc.) relations btw TEI and CLARIN. These will be circulated among Board for comment and decision of further action (if any). Martin Wynne will take a proposal to the CLARIN ERIC Board of Directors for CLARIN to adopt TEI guidelines as standards for CLARIN services in appropriate contexts, as suggested by Laurent Romary in the workshop.

TAPAS proposal

Discussion of “Proposal for TEI-TAPAS Relationship”

Proposal as approved: Funding of 1 year (renewable), at the flat rate of $10K, to continue to develop TAPAS and to offer it free for all TEI members, to be revisited (by way of a brief report to the Board) at end of that year in consideration for renewal.

Budget projections

Projected income for 2014:

  • $75K membership income
  • $18K member meeting income

Projected expenditures for 2014:

  • $10K for Council
  • $5K Board
  • $18K payout for member meeting
  • $30K for “other” (web hosting, migration, TAPAS
  • $2500 workshops
  • $2500 workgroups
  • $3500 legal and accounting fees
  • $2000 TEI-J
  • $700 Insurance

Projected $8600 carry-forward (without spending down any of our substantial surplus)

Meeting adjourned at approximately 16:05 p.m.