Reckoning Time in Medieval Pisa

Comparing Chronicle Versions Using Kaleidoscope

Although two versions of the small Pisan chronicle are extant, studies on Pisan historiography and the events recounted in the work reference the printed RRIISS version almost exclusively. Given the limited exposure of the British Library's manuscript, we were eager to identify differences among these two versions and to be able to references the variations easily and quickly. The differences were helpful to us as we researched questions  about the use of temporal markers, and will certainly be useful to others wishing to place the BL manuscript in context of current research. 

After searching through many digital textual comparison tools, we determined that Kaleidoscope had features which aligned most closely with our project needs. The tool marks and presents every difference in the text in one place so that we can easily visualize them and then discern the relative importance of those changes. 

The files use to compare the texts are .txt files, or standard, unformatted text files. We chose this file type because it allows for a simple comparison of the text and spaces without any additional information being considered. We downloaded the transcriptions created in FromThePage, including the tagged temporal markers and other ancillary information. We then converted the downloaded information into plain text in Apple TextEdit before importing it to Kaleidoscope for a final comparison. In this way, we compared only the actual text of each witness and excluded anything that was added to aid our research.

Kaleidoscope permitted the discovery of some significant differences between these two versions of the text, including a large portion of text omitted in the print edition and smaller variations that support our conclusions about the existence of multiple manuscript copies.

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