Over the last decade, HTML has moved from being the new file format of a new network service—the Web—to a well-known but often abused barrier to communication. The advantages of changing to more formalized systems in XML are clear, but deployment has been hindered by the slow development of browsers, editors, and other software suitable for academic work. XML has greater potential than HTML for use off the Web, especially in the humanities, so the concept of ‘life beyond the Web’ for textual scholarship can be expressed in terms of opportunities for researchers. This paper is an expansion of a talk given to a Symposium of the Computer Science and English Initiative (COSEI) held in February 2000 at University College Dublin. © 2002 Association for Literary & Linguistic Computing.