◎ JADH2016

Sep 12-14, 2016 The University of Tokyo

Modeling New TEI/XML Attributes for the Semantic Markup of Historical Transactions, based on ‘Transactionography’
Naoki Kokaze (University of Tokyo), Kiyonori Nagasaki (International Institute for Digital Humanities), Masahiro Shimoda, A. Charles Muller (University of Tokyo)

This presentation addresses the provision of extended TEI/XML attributes based on ‘Transactionography’ to mark up the historical transactions more semantically and precisely.

'Transactionography' is a methodological approach proposed by Drs. Kathryn Tomasek and Syd Bauman in their article published in 2013, 'Encoding Financial Records for Historical Research.' This methodology is an extended model of the TEI in order to mark up appropriately various kinds of historical financial records containing histories of the exchange of goods and services, such as receipts or account ledgers.

They focused on micro transactions relating to personal life in the article. But, naturally enough, a transaction is included in trade which is also performed between states as well as in the individual realm. When marking up those macro transactions, we expect that the issues of how to tag the states, the individuals, which were the subjects of the transactions, or the transactions themselves, remains as problems.

To solve these issues, at the Second MEDEA workshop held in April 2016 at the Wheaton College, we already presented a concrete example of how to utilize the TEI attributes, especially @sameAs and @corresp, with the new defined elements of ‘Transactionography’.

In that presentation, we took the transactions of gunboats, the so-called Lay-Osborn Flotilla, between the governments of Great Britain and China in the 1860s, as an example. The purpose of those transactions for the Chinese government was to, with minimal financial cost, to suppress the pirates and rebels in Chinese territory without building a naval force, by introducing the advanced Western military technology. Whereas the purpose for the British government was to decrease the burden of the duty required to maintain the order of the China seas instead of the Chinese maritime force, and also to reduce naval expenditures. However, the flotilla was eventually disbanded, because of a difference in their opinions about whether making use of the Lay-Osborn Flotilla for the purpose of strengthening the Chinese central power or Chinese local power.

In these transactions, a key person was the Inspector General, Lay. Having returned temporarily to England for medical treatment, Lay, rather than the Chinese Government, purchased the fleets and weapons there. In addition to these expenses, fleet maintenance costs and the salary of the sailors on board, which were estimated to be necessary after their arrival in China, were paid from each Chinese Maritime Custom as bills, being sent to Lay from time to time. However, as already mentioned, since the Lay-Osborn Flotilla ended up being disbanded without any achievement, the Chinese government furiously instructed Lay to reimburse all the money he had at the moment to the government and to submit a detailed account of funds he had used so far.

When attempting to grasp the overall picture of such complex transactions, one of the merits of the application of ‘Transactionography’ is to make it easier to visualize a structure of transactions by giving an xml:id to each transaction or to a series of transactions that have a certain point in common. The @fra and @til attributes are very powerful in terms of connecting the actors of transactions.

But, taking into consideration international trade, there is a case where it is necessary to subdivide the trade into trading of smaller scale. In this case of the Lay-Osborn Flotilla, the transactions can be listed as follows:
(a) Purchase of fleets and ammunitions: Lay ⇆ Great Britain
(b) Remittance for the above transaction: Chinese Maritime Customs → Lay & Hart, the Acting Inspector General during the absent of Lay
(c) Reimbursement after the dissolution of the flotilla: Lay → Chinese Government

Fig 1.

What is particularly important is that Lay sent all the money he had received from each Maritime Custom directly to the Chinese government. In this chart, the cluster (b) of transactions needs to be associated with the cluster (c). Therefore, we have marked up as follows.

Fig 2.

As you can see here, gathering together a chain of remittance from Maritime Customs to Lay, we defined them as a single hfrs:listTransaction with an xml:id="tr002". In the Markup, we have already defined the information about the measure element with xml:id, such as "#ch-pay006", in the text above this hfrs:listTransaction element, so as not to commit a syntax error. In other words, we have separated the information about the transactions from the Markup of prose text itself.

Furthermore, as listed underneath, on the basis of this "#tr002" hfrs:listTransaction, we define a new hfrs:listTransaction with an xml:id="tr003" to clarify the relationship between those clusters of transactions.

Fig 3.

Thus, it is helpful to use @corresp attribute in connecting related transactions with their xml:id. In this way, we should be able to describe the whole structure of transactions, even though it is complicated, by breaking down international trade into exchanges of smaller scale.

In addition, we have constructed an interface for the visualization of the flow of money and for the multi-lingual historical approach, which is going to be published in the papers of IPSJ SIG notes in 2016.

Fig 4.

However, there still remains a further problem that the @corresp attribute is too ambiguous to describe the relationship between each of the transactions. For the purpose of the semantic markup, e. g., when the total sum of a series of transactions would be the basis for other transactions, it should be helpful to define new attributes, such as @sum. In this coming presentation at JADH 2016, we would like to suggest new attributes to mark up historical transactions informatively and semantically, by collecting a variety of samples.