Although very few electronic editions with any scholarly pretensions
exist today, there is already a dominant idea of what an electronic edition
ought to be. The idea is that an electronic edition ought to be an
archive. It should offer diplomatic transcriptions of documents, and
facsimiles of those documents. And it should avoid many of the
things that scholarly editions have traditionally done, particularly the
creation of critically-edited texts by means of editorial emendation.
On this view, what readers need is access to original sources – to as
many of them as possible, and avoiding as much as possible the shaping
and selection that editors have traditionally engaged in. Although
a lot of archives in the world were created and shaped to make specific
points, this kind of archive-edition is not conceived of as doing
that: it is instead imagined as a neutral witness.