Do we know what we’re estimating?

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By Robert Rich

One of many things that working on the separate plates has gotten me thinking about is how we conceptualize units of space. Doing the textual transcriptions for the separate plates requires that we use a lot of and tags. Inside these elements, we use the attribute “extent=” to describe the size of the space. The difficulty of this is that I never feel like I have any idea what it is we’re counting. It seems like the standard instruction in the matter is to put down a rough guess and wait until it’s up on the testing site to ensure the accuracy of the number. This makes sense, but it would seem that even to put in a rough guess a person would need to have some idea what the unit is. Consulting the “Filling out an XML BAD File” on the WIP site doesn’t provide any help in the matter.

Back when I was working on the transcriptions of Blake’s letters, I would usually just assume the unit of space was about the extent of a character. I never knew whether this was close to what a unit of ‘space’ was supposed to be (The image below …read more