Questions of content
In his recent publication entitled Digitizing the European Emblem Peter H. Daly discusses some
aspects of the content-related information offered by Stephen Rawles' template.
Daly's publication, though in some aspects helpful, fell prey to the dynamic and sometimes ten-
tative nature of Internet publications insofar as it discusses preliminary and outdated information.
This makes reading his book sometimes irritating, as it evaluates projects on basis of information
presented on the Web as announcements and provisional plans.With some awareness of the very
nature of Web-based projects, his premature and unnecessary criticisms could have been avoid-
ed. However, Daly makes some remarks about the template which are worth discussing. First of
all, he draws attention to the fact that Rawles recommended English as language for metadata in
his first version and that this may not be as self-evident as suggested.This is indeed an important
point. Nobody in the field of the humanities should be forced to create, for example, a com-
mentary in a foreign language.There are, however, some limitations to this opinion. All projects
aspire to ensure that the emblems they put on the Web or publish as CD ROM can be searched
in the best possible way. Especially in a Web environment one has to confront the problem of
multiple languages. Iconclass offers a good solution to this problem, at least for the pictorial clas-
sification, because it employs numbers and characters instead of words and thus avoids language
conflicts. But what if a research group has not used Iconclass so far and is not willing to do so?
Will they be expelled from the Internet emblem community? Provisions should be made for
those who wish to markup picturae in different ways. For instance, Illinois and Wolfenbüttel offer
only keywords for the pictura at the moment, but are planning to establish a German-English con-
cordance which permits searching on both databases at the same time.
The transcription of the inscriptio and subscriptio should cause no trouble, since source text is
literally and accurately transcribed, regardless of language. Transcription of mottos and other
source text should be done using the Unicode character set, either UTF-8 or 16, which allows
encoding of special characters, for example, in German or Greek. However, some practical prob-
lems may arise.The database system must support Unicode and most do not at present. A suit-
able Unicode-editor is required. Fortunately, most of the up-to-date browsers do support
Unicode, so that data presentation on the Web will be facilitated. In addition to the transcriptions,
normalized or lemmatized vocabulary may be added in modern spelling or as the word stem, e.g.,
rex for regis.
To return to the initial question one may also wish to have an English translation of the motto
to improve access to the data. English translations should not be mandatory - a reasonably good
English translation presupposes extensive language skills and is very time consuming.The idea of
adding some keywords in English to enhance accessibility on the predominantly English Web is,
however, attractive.These keywords may be inserted directly or, as mentioned before, by means
of concordances.They could be hidden from display to prevent the encoder from spending too
much time on correct display information. Daly also recommends something which points in the
same direction: "Searching could well be carried out on the perhaps hidden standardized ver-
sion," as he put it.
What is right for the language may also be right for the rules applied to provide bibliograph-
ic information. Rawles no longer mentioned AACR for cataloguing bibliographic information
in his recent version of the "spine of information for indexing emblems," but it remains a prob-
lem. Shall we apply AACR2 or RAK, the German cataloguing rules, or something else? A prag-
matic approach may be to set this question aside and not pay too much attention to the correct
application of bibliographic rules, as long as there are some rules which could possibly be mapped
to one another in the future. Since in most cases there are bibliographic databases and reference
books available providing high level bibliographic information about emblem books, it should
Peter M. Daly, Digitizing the Euro-
pean Emblem: Issues and Prospects
(New York: AMS Press, 2002).
See footnote 9, p. XV.
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