archive

Many prominent electronic editions are referred to as digital archives, and such terminology may strike some people as loose usage. In fact, electronic editorial undertakings are only imperfectly described by any of the terms currently in use: edition, project, archive, thematic research collection. Traditionally, an archive has referred to a repository holding material artifacts rather than digital surrogates. An archive in this traditional sense may well be described in finding aids but its materials are rarely, if ever, meticulously edited and annotated as a whole. In an electronic environment, archive has gradually come to mean a purposeful collection of digital surrogates. Words take on new meanings over time, of course, and archive in a digital context has come to suggest something that blends features of editing and archiving. To meld features of both — to have the care of treatment and annotation of an edition and the inclusiveness of an archive — is one of the tendencies of recent work in electronic editing (Price 2007, 345).

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