As we reach the midpoint of the semester, this class has had an impact on the way I think about the web. It is a little strange, but I am more fearful about my web use. Yesterday, I looked at a shirt on an online store, and the shirt followed me around the web appearing on the margins of my Facebook, articles, twitter, and just about everywhere I else I surfed. When I finally thought I had escaped, I opened my phone and there it was! It had jumped from my computer to my phone! Freaky stuff.
So, this week’s reading has given me a little bit of a better understanding of how the meta-information of life is created. I am thankful to be able to understand the mystery of the stalking-shirt. I find the TEI community’s structure both relieving and concerning. I like how the article, TEI by Example, explains that there is creative freedom in markup languages: “The conclusions and the work of the TEI community are formulated as guidelines, rules, and recommendations rather than standards, because it is acknowledged that each scholar must have the freedom of expressing their own theory of text by encoding the features they think important in the text.” There is some level of democratization when it comes to the creation of the markup language. The authors are not restricted to one organization’s understanding of what is correct, which is great because we all know that a strict structure could not possibly fit the diversity of information out there.
But, the danger of manipulation is not gone. We know this from our many discussions of algorithms, etc. The article mentions that while no one can own the XML language itself, corporations can own the XMLs that they create. Some of these markups are immensely powerful and influential. So, while there is freedom in XML creation, we are still susceptible to the XML maker’s agenda. As we start to become markup artists, we should keep in mind what it is like to be on the receiving end of information when one does not know who is behind their meta-information.