aus der Introduction of the Busa Award Lecture bei der "Digital Humanities 2007" Konferenz
Urbana, 5 June 2007

C. M. Sperberg-McQueen

In the Foreword to the volume on Book VI of the Aeneid, there appears a sentence which seems to sum up, programmatically, both the capabilities and the potential limits of digital processing:
Electronic data processing can be put into service whenever data of any kind — notably including texts — must be processed according to rules which are unambiguously formulatable and completely formalizable.
What more compact formulation could we find of the fundamental program of our field? And what more matter of fact reminder that this is a description of those places where computers can successfully be deployed, without any suggestion of belief that they can be deployed absolutely everywhere.
In due course, these efforts produced a suite of programs for scholarly work with text, which at some point acquired the name Tustep, the Tübingen System of Text Processing tools.
Tustep embodied a number of important ideas:
The most important idea of Tustep, though, is that it is the responsibility of the software to serve the needs of scholarship, and not vice versa, and that the responsibility of the scholar is to respect the significant particularities of the material and the demands of his discipline (not any standards of practice imposed from outside, and least of all any limitations imposed by the software.)
Tustep developed over thirty years of listening to the needs of scholarship, consulting with projects and adding to Tustep the functionality they needed to enable them to do their work. Hundreds of editions have been prepared with it, some all the way from beginning to end, from data capture through typeset pages, others just translated into Tustep for the typesetting — apparatus criticus is not easy to set!
If we are to take responsibility, as humanists, for our use of machines, then it is necessarily now a part of humanities scholarship to understand and develop ways to make machines adapt to the requirements of our work, and (while remaining open to the exploitation of new and unforeseen opportunities) to resist the temptation to adjust our practices to suit the convenience of the machine. ...