Digital Critical Edition

The Making and Knowing Project is producing a digital critical edition of Ms. Fr. 640. The first beta release is scheduled for late fall 2019.

The digital critical edition will comprise an open access, electronically searchable, and intuitive user-directed online format of the four versions of the manuscript:

  1. high-definition facsimile images
  2. diplomatic French transcription
  3. normalized French transcription
  4. English translation

The critical apparatus will include multimedia annotations, essay-length analyses of techniques and materials, a glossary of technical terms, and a list of resources for further exploration, such as researcher field notes, paleography tools, the Research and Pedagogy Template, and the principles guiding the Project’s translation and reconstruction decisions.

Mock-up wireframe of digital edition. User-directed text comparison panes with pop-out critical commentary features and links to related resources.



Explore the Project’s prototypes of the digital critical edition, at Columbia University:


Sustainability and Open Access

Columbia University Libraries has committed to hosting and sustaining the digital critical edition and the Project’s data. This requires that the critical edition be built on a limited technology stack using the most durable formats that allow migration and conversion of all digital assets in response to changing technologies. The Project’s data will be open access, thus available to be reconfigured and repurposed for new and experimental applications beyond the scope of the Project itself, including advanced data visualization, textual analysis, and further historical, technical, and material research.


Digital Humanities and Pedagogy

In Spring 2017, the Making and Knowing Project offered a new graduate-level digital humanities seminar through the Department of History, “HIST GR8975: What is a Book in the 21st Century?” Using the English translation of Ms. Fr. 640 as the basic data set, students collaboratively created a minimal (i.e., limited, basic feature) digital edition by the end of the semester, effectively prototyping a design for the Project’s final digital critical edition. Additionally, the course introduced students both theoretically and practically to the concepts and tools relevant to the creation of a digital edition, such as image and text capture; metadata, tracking, and data management; data curation; transformations to, representations of, and interfaces of digital resources; and archiving, licensing, persistence, and re-usability. The seminar thus equipped participating students with identifiable, measurable, and repurposable digital skills while furthering the Project goals.

Explore our minimal edition:

Read the Spring 2017 “What is a Book in the 21st Century?” syllabus 


Advanced Visualization

The Columbia University Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab (CGUI), led by Professor Steven Feiner, is developing an augmented reality (AR) toolset to complement the digital critical edition. These interactive tools will help communicate the practice-based experiential knowledge generated in the Making and Knowing lab, allowing readers to experience the process of historical techniques through cutting-edge visualization technologies, including Microsoft HoloLens and Google Tango devices.

Explore the AR tools as they develop: