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The Apex of Hipster XML GeekDOM: TEI-Encoded Dylan

Via Language Log: The Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) at the University of Victoria has, in an effort to draw more attention to TEI, chosen to prepare an encoded version of the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and overlaid the resulting XML over the song's video. The resulting video is available, naturally, on YouTube.

ETCL's Ray Siemens writes about the reasoning behind this on the TEI Video Widgets blog:

At the last gathering of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, in Maryland, a few of us were discussing the ways in which TEI has eluded some specific types of social-cultural representation that are especially current today . . . things like an avatar, or something that could manifest itself as a youtube posting. A quick search of youtube did reveal a significant and strong presence of sorts, but it was that of Tei the Korean pop singer (pronounced, we're told, "˜tay'); so, our quest began there, setting out modestly to create a video widget that would balance T-E-I and Tei in the youtube world.

In addition, a high-quality MP4 video is available for download for those so inclined. This has just about made my week.



  • 💬 Lou at October 2, 2008, 01:01 UTC:

    Ray, nice idea, but why didn't you do a real transcript of the song, a proper transcript of the movie captions, (using the new facsimile features), and show how TEI can be used to link them together? That would be a real advertisement for the TEI: this just looks gimmicky.

  • 💬 Ray at October 2, 2008, 04:18 UTC:

    Hi Lou -- you're right, there are a number of ways to do this. Dot and I discussed quite a few options, but only implemented the one so far, which focuses on the textual presence in the video. Care to give it a shot, using the facsimile features?

    Discussion at

  • 💬 Dot at October 2, 2008, 09:03 UTC:

    Hi Lou - This isn't a bad idea, and wouldn't be difficult to implement given that the cards don't actually move around on the screen during the course of the video. I'm fairly sure that's why I didn't do this, actually, there would be just one attached to each caption. The major variance throughout the video is the cards switching out, which happens in time rather than in space. More useful to attach time stamps to the captions rather than using facsimile in this instance, surely?

    Now, if there were a lot going on in the background, using facsimile (plus timestamps) to mark descriptions of what is going on would be quite interesting and potentially useful... but this is a very static example.

  • 💬 Lou at October 2, 2008, 18:20 UTC:

    What's chiefly going on in the movie is movement of Dylan's head, as he shifts his gaze from the camera, to offscreen, to the placard, and of course of his hands as he exposes the next placard. The only way I can think of combining all those changes with the soundtrack would be by time alignment, rather than facs.