Oh, I think Dublin Core does have software support - or is at least present in the minds of people dealing with metadata. And a MIME Type specified as dc:format would probably go a long way towards conveying characteristics of textual material. I admit that it wouldn’t be as specific as the properties in textMD.
I guess, I can’t really understand the use cases for the textMD standard.
textMD was originally created by the New York University Digital Library Team (NYU), and had been maintained by NYU through the current version (2.2). In October 2007, LoC assumed maintenance of textMD. This has entailed creating a listserv for fostering discussion, authoring this official web site, as well as working on updates to the textMD schema that will offer new elements.
My understanding is that the standard was used first as an in-house information format for a team using MODS and then opened up to broader use as other institutions started to show interest. Interest develops because institutional activities and projects can span decades while the workflow process can evolve within the project. This metadata offers a way to track impacts on outputs due to workflow changes. It also allows maintenance agencies to target specific corpora for updates at an encoding level.
I know that unexpected encoding differences, including custom encodings due to custom font usage was an issue that Yi and @cbowern encountered in their work. They talk about it like this:
Other issues surrounding downloads included non-functioning download buttons or downloads that resulted in unreadable data. AILLA’s download links are blocked by Chrome and Firefox browsers due to security settings, and could only be accessed by changing web browsers. The Hindu-Kush Areal Typology,56 while not strictly an archive, had a bulk download option for wordlists. However, users had to ensure that they were properly opening the UTF-8 encoded CSV file in order to read the data without broken text. While workarounds like these exist, they may deter users with less familiarity with technology from using such archives effectively.
This is the first metadata schema I have come across which formalizes these important technical attributes of a digital text. I’m sure you have dealt with line ending characters across OSes… they are a real pain. but knowing that one will need to address those issues before they select a text corpus can help set workload expectations. Lots of digital documents are not in UTF-8 or UTF-16, especially in languages which use Scripts whose characters have not or have just recently been added to Unicode.