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DigiCULT
.
Info
53
EMBRACING A PRECURSOR
N
ew Zealand's previous government-
funded encyclopedia was published
in 1966.
74
It was an immediate success,
a blockbuster in New Zealand publish-
ing terms, and has never been reprinted or
updated in any way. There has been no suc-
cessor or anything approaching its scale or
its reliability.
A
s Te Ara was committed to a publish-
ing schedule that would mean the
paradox of an only partial encyclopedia on
the Web for a number of years, the 1966
compilation has been digitised and will be
presented on the Te Ara site in its entirety,
including its hundreds of fine black-and-
white illustrations, with links to current
articles added as they are published. In con-
junction with the New Zealand Electronic
Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/),
75
the text was captured and marked up using
TEI-conformant XML (http://www.tei-
c.org/). The XML was then mapped and
transformed to Te Ara's XML schema for
upload to the project's content management
system.
T
he few corrigenda published with the
original volumes have been incorpo-
rated into the text, and some longer entries
have been restructured to improve Web usa-
bility, but otherwise the 1966 encyclope-
dia has not been updated. The 1966 entries
will serve as a back-up to some topics and
a stop-gap for others, and, while some of its
content is now dated, for many subjects it
remains a valuable source. It has been given
a distinctive design and will maintain its
authenticity and integrity, while allowing Te
Ara a little playfulness through a `Blast from
the Past' feature presenting selected entries
of particular interest or amusement. The
NZ Electronic Text Centre also has the
opportunity to present an unreconstructed
version of the 1966 encyclopedia as part of
its e-text corpus.
XML
T
he need for authoritative source
files which would enable Te Ara
to maintain and adapt its content over
a long period of inevitable technologi-
cal change prompted the choice of XML
as the format for storing and manipu-
lating textual content. XML encod-
ing also manages the linkages between
entries and the relationship between the
text, its illustrations in all media, and the
descriptive and contextual captions for
each non-textual resource. XML source
files are stored in a document reposi-
tory external to the Web site's production
engine, its content management system.
XML will also allow for the creation
of new derivatives for different delivery
channels, including print.
U
nsurprisingly, writers find XML's
explicit markup a significant barri-
er to reading and editing, and at present a
transformation process using an extensible
stylesheet transformation (XSLT) developed
by the NZETC enables us to continue to
write and edit using standard word-process-
ing tools, to save the files including word-
processing markup, and then to convert this
to Te Ara XML. The XML files are then
used for production, including the manage-
ment of site page design and navigation. This
solution means that updates to the text sim-
ply require a reiteration of the transforma-
tion process. The weak link in the chain is
the original styling of the document, and we
The 1966 encyclopedia of New Zealand: now digitised and to be presented
as part of Te Ara.
A Web page presenting content from the 1966 encyclopedia of New
Zealand.

Melanie
Lo
v
ell-Smith,

T
e
Ara,

2004

T
e
Ara,

2004
Text and illustrations are decided at lively meetings where the options for
illustrating an online entry are thrashed out.

Melanie
Lo
v
ell-Smith,

T
e
Ara,

2004
75 See DigiCULT.Info, Issue 6: http://www.digicult.info/pages/
newsletter.php