Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I’m Jim Ginther and I am the Principal Investigator for T-PEN.  I have been working in Digital Humanities for over a decade and T-PEN is my seventh research project in DH.  I am very excited about this project for two reasons.  First, T-PEN is one step closer to a major dream of mine to create an editing suite that assists the editor from the transcription stage; through editing, collating and annotation; to the final digital publication–all  in a digital workspace.   Given how many other teams are working towards this same dream, the T-PEN team is committed to interoperability:  we want to ensure that users can take their transcriptions and import them easily into other tools.  The second reason I am excited about T-PEN is that I am providing one of the regular use cases during development.  I will begin a critical edition of the Super Psalterium of Robert Grosseteste (ca. 1170-1253).  I have been studying the life and works of this English thinker since my doctoral studies.  Grosseteste was one of the few masters we know by name at the University of Oxford in the early thirteenth century  He was also a polymath. He was a leader in natural philosophy (in the areas we now identify as cosmology and mathematical physics), an outstanding theologian, and bishop of Lincoln.  His commentary on the Psalter is the last major work from his days at Oxford.  Editing this text is not without its challenges since its textual history is a complicated story.  During T-PEN’s development I will be transcribing one of the manuscript witnesses of this large text (well over 200K words in length!).  Given the unique character of the text, I will definitely be putting T-PEN through its paces. 


  1. Thanks for this post. I will sound absolutely ignorant and stupid, having seen the video about T-Pen, and also have been reading your posts about it, I found the tool revolutionary, so I would like to know whether this software can be bought and used anywhere, or it is free for those who would like to participate in the transcription of these unpublished documents. Thanks for the answer in advance

  2. Almási:

    T-PEN will be open-source, freely available software. We will be offering it as a web application, and for those who want to run their own instance of it on their own server, they can install it there. We have just begun to develop T-PEN and we plan on having a full release by April 2011. There will be beta release before that. We'll announce that on the blog.

    Thanks for your interest. I would be interested to learn what kind of unpublished manuscripts you might be working with.

  3. Thanks for the response. I haven't got a specific ms on my mind, I was just thinking that there is a database of digitalised mss which need to be transcribed, and anybody may contribute to this project with working with t-pen.

  4. Almási,
    Thanks for your interest in T-PEN. I'm really excited by your response because you've hit on one of the ways we hope T-PEN can contribute to the growth of digital manuscript studies; that's why we've already partnered with digital repositories such as Parker Library on the Web, Codices electronici Sangallenses and Codices electronici ecclesiae Coloniensis. We envision that transcriptions powered by T-PEN could contribute to forming a text database which would allow users of these sites to run searches for specific words or phrases found in the digitized manuscripts. And, as you said, anybody may contribute to this project, creating their own private transcription for their own use, while also helping to build up a database which would benefit all users of these digital repositories.

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  6. Tomás,

    Congratulations for the partnerships. I'm not a futurologist, but I would like the future of scholarship be fashioned like your T-Pen project.

    At the same time, however, I can't really see how much academia has to change in attitude. Contributing to projects like yours could hardly appear on list of publications etc which are all needed for promotion, sholarships. So the selection and demonstration of excellence seem to expect scholars not to take part in collaborative projects (which actually could change the world, really).

    So do not misunderstand my comment, I absolutely celebrate T-Pen, and hope you will be succesful,esp. because you chose an area which is what dh is about, but rather wonder whether intsitutional expectations towards scholars can be bent towards encouraging or at least not discouraging them in contributing to T-Pen.