January 30th, 2012
Jeffrey C. Witt (Boston College):
The digital edition faces at least two questions pertaining to quality control and proper citation. These questions are related, and I will treat them as one. The dynamic quality of the digital text is, of course, a large part of its promise. It is precisely this element that allows advances over the printed edition. However, it is the static quality of the print critical edition that facilitates quality control and ease of citation. Because of the expensive process of print production, editors and publishers have an extra incentive to get things right. Likewise, because of the static nature of the printed text, users can be sure that what they cite can always be found and will never be changed.
This is surely one of the key problems with digital editions, together with the fact that digital editions of texts are simply not as usable as their print companions. Witt’s edition makes considerable progress on both fronts, and is a fascinating attempt at a “social edition”.