Actually, I would argue that EAD is *not* about presentation and not about
the WEB. HTML is about the web and presentation. In fact, constraining EAD
to that minimalist position is precisely what I was arguing against.
EAD is about capturing
structure and semantics, potentially entirely divorced from presentation,
in a human and machine readable format called SGML/XML. ISAD(G) is about
description regardless of machine-readable format. You can write a
ISAD(G) conformant document in Word, in HTML in EAD, with a typewriter,
with a dirty fingernail on a scrap of paper.
It is precisely one of my arguments that encoding the structure and
semantics says nothing inherent about presentation. However, it is also
true that encoding the document in EAD does not require following any
descriptive standard. And that is where we have a serious problem.
One can (and at Pitt we actually do something like this) encode the a
finding aid using ISAD(G) as the descriptive standard.
Encoding in EAD in no way prescribes its presentation. In fact, unlike
the Word document or the scrap of paper with a dirty fingernail, it, along
with other XML technologies allows for numerous presentations and
manipulations of the same document. But building tools to do that is
hampered because of the lack of a descriptive standard embedded in the
So no, EAD is not a content standard but neither is it a presentation
tool. It is merely a way to capture the information in a structured way
that is then easily machine processable and also somewhat human readable.
On Mon, 17 Sep 2001, Hugo Stibbe wrote:
> Boy oh boy! Do I ever agree with what you are saying Liz! I have been
> watching these messages, questions, problems and problem "solvers" on the
> EAD list just about from the start of the List and the EAD effort. I took
> the EAD course and I always have considered the EAD and all its evolving
> derivatives and expansions as tools for presentation. Definitely not a
> content standard!
> For those who know me as the former Secretary and Project Director of the
> Committee on Descriptive Standards of the International Council of Archives
> (ICA/CDS), I have always in my writings and presentations tried to covey the
> message that the two standards which this committee produced, ISAD(G) and
> ISAAR(CPF), were content standards and not presentation standards. (It says
> so explicitly in the introductions.) So, we DO have such content standards
> which define in a concise way the elements of description of records and
> collections, ISAD(G), and for persons, organizations and families which
> produced these records, ISAAR(CPF).
> The point (and perhaps this lies at the core of the problem) is that the
> designers of the EAD standard presented it (and still do) as A DTD for
> FINDING AIDS, which implies a presentation format. In essence, that is what
> it is and very confusing. Furthermore, it was designed specifically for Web
> presentation. ISAD(G) and ISAAR(CPF) are independent from any presentation
> whether electronic, conventional paper, Web or whatever. Would it not be
> nice if there would be a EAD-like (WEB) presentation standard which takes
> the ISAD(G) and ISAAR(CPF) as its departure point so as to clearly separate
> content from presentation? I know that there are efforts underway to do
> just that. Interesting enough, Michael Fox is the liaison between the EAD
> Working Group and ICA/CDS. So, get at it!
> Hugo Stibbe
> Archival Standards Officer
> National Archives of Canada
> Former Project Director and Secretary
> Committee on Descriptive Standards
> International Council on Archives
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