Peter Boot

Hi. My name is Peter Boot. I am a senior researcher at the Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens ING).

Research Interests

My initial training was in mathematics. Later I studied Dutch literature. In between I worked as a programmer, analyst and database consultant at a large insurance firm. The three elements are visible in my main research interests: online repertoire formation, scholarly digital editing and digital emblem studies.

Online repertoire formation

Since the advent of the web, both literature and literary discussion are moving online. For literary scholars, this creates an opportunity to study processes that used to be hard to observe. Book discussions are conducted in public, their full text is electronically available, they usually remain accessible for some time, and responses are often hyperlinked immediately from a review page. This situation is very different from what it used to be: a few responses being published (in newspapers) but hard to access, but most reponses never put in writing.

The many sites where people discuss books offer a wealth of material that shows reader response to literature. The question underlying my research is whether we can learn why and how some works and authors acquire enduring reputations while others do not. I study the question both on sites where people discuss books published on paper and on online writing communities, sites where amateur writers gather to publish and discuss their poems and stories.

Scholarly digital editing

While I am not an editor, I do have a long-standing interest in the possibilities that the digital medium offers the scholarly edition. At Huygens ING, my responsibilities include work on the creation of digital editions. I oversaw the creation of the website for the edition of Van Gogh's letters, and, like everyone who worked on that edition, feel very proud of the Grand Prix for European Cultural Heritage the edition was awarded by Europa Nostra.

Besides preparing actual editions, I am also doing research into the digital edition. My thesis (see below) was on the implications of annotation in digital editions for humanities scholarship. Since then I have written about the future of the edition in a distributed world and about investigating usage patterns in the digital edition. I am a member of the NeDiMAH working group on scholarly digital editions, charged with establishing the state of the art and recommending a set of best practices for the scholarly digital edition. I have been a subscriber of the Text Encoding Initative and have served a term on its Technical Council.

Digital emblem studies

I helped create the Emblem Project Utrecht, which digitised ca. 25 books of Dutch love emblems. I published a number of papers about the project and on behalf of the project was active in the OpenEmblem Group. My thesis discussed annotation in the context of digitised emblems.


I defended my thesis Mesotext. Digitised Emblems, Modelled Annotations and Humanities Scholarship in November 2009. The thesis resulted from a project financed jointly by Huygens ING and Utrecht University. Here's more about the thesis.

Other activities

I'm one of the editors of the platform Textual Scholarship (in Dutch), with special responsibility for the weblog e-tekstualiteit. I'm also one of the editors of e-data & research (in Dutch), a quarterly magazine reporting on developments in the digital humanities.

My page at Huygens ING (in Dutch).