Oxford Electronic Shakespeare, cont. (150)

Wed, 8 Mar 89 19:47:52 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 691. Wednesday, 8 Mar 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 05:10:47 CST (21 lines)
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>

(2) Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 10:27:38 GMT (94 lines)
From: Sebastian Rahtz <spqr@CM.SOTON.AC.UK>
Subject: Oxford Electronic Shakespeare defended (80)

(3) Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 16:36 (11 lines)
From: Wujastyk (on GEC 4190 Rim-C at UCL) <UCGADKW@EUCLID.UCL.AC.UK>
Subject: Oxford Electronic Publishing

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 05:10:47 CST
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>

Ruth Glynn, Editor, Oxford Electronic Publishing, concerning
Sebastian Rahtz's recent posting, has used the following language:

> ill-informed little contribution
> no good at all
> rubbish of the "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" variety
> cheap jibe

You would think that SR was code for Rushdie. Look, with all the
hate spilling out all over the world right now, can't we at least
maintain some semblance of "humanity" here?

I can't blame RG (same initials as mine) for feeling resentful,
but I don't think SR can be accused of anything other than having
another (perhaps wrong) point of view. If you two can't kiss and
make up, then could you at least step outside?

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------102---
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 10:27:38 GMT
From: Sebastian Rahtz <spqr@CM.SOTON.AC.UK>
Subject: Oxford Electronic Shakespeare defended (80)

Many of the contributions I make to HUMANIST are trivial/in bad
taste/ignorant; my remarks about OUP's release of the electronic bard
were not actually intended to fall into that category. So if Ruth will
forgive me, I will try and reply.

Firstly, I take back my jibe at OUP not having access to email; I am
delighted to see Ruth on HUMANIST. Does this mean that NotaBene users
will get support via email as well?

people contributing to it no good at all. I am sure that if Sebastian
had to pay for his email (some of us have to go through BTGold and pay
REAL money), he would think twice about clogging up the post

This is fair enough in a way, but how many readers of HUMANIST pay for
their mail? If HUMANISTs vote that contributions should respect the
chequebook of OUP and others, then I would respect that. At the
moment, I assume that anyone can not bother to read my messages if
they look stupid.

Does anyone else reading HUMANIST really think that publishing
an electronic edition of anything -- let alone something as
extensive as the new Oxford Shakespeare -- is simply a matter
of pressing a button and replicating a few floppy disks?
well, yes, actually, I did; I had assumed that the Shakespeare was
typeset from generic markup version which you then put on floppies.
So in fact you had
compacted and complex typesetting tapes
and created
'clean' ASCII text
but you cannot blame me in 1989 for assuming that OUP (the great
defenders of SGML) had used a more flexible system. OK, so the
Shakespeare has probably been in the works for decades...

So it took a year and

cost a great deal of money -- much of it in programmers' time.

well gosh, a whole year. how many man years do you think go into
software products that sell for a lot less than the Bard?

To suggest that this publication be priced in line with Borland is
a nonsense. Borland sell to a vast consumer market in such

Borland took a niche product and made it popular by selling it cheap.
I am not convinced that Pascal (as it was) was much more obscure than
the most famous writer in the world. Electronic drama will remain
expensive if you put it on a pedestal. Shakespeare is your big chance
to popularize electronic text publication by selling it at a loss, and
creating the market which you say is not there. Then you could make
money later out of the obscure things.

only losers would, good humanities computing friends, be you.
Maybe this is the problem. Stop trying to sell to 'humanities
computing' and sell to 'humanities'. Those are the people in
English departments who have PCs, but have no interest in learning
OCP, and simply want a working Bard. Since you sell the OED in that
fashion (and I admit I would rather you didn't, but I'm in a minority
there), why not produce a push-button Bard? preferably on a CD-ROM.

exclusively readable by Micro-OCP. It was a prime consideration
not to lock the text into any one retrieval program -- hence why
so why is not SGML-compatible, eh?

the manual accompanying the publication goes into such detail
about the tagging scheme and layout of the files. Anyone who
chooses to write their own retrieval software is free to do so

talk about niche markets! how many people write retrieval software,
for Allah's sake? <footnote> is that an obscure enough reference,
Brian? <\footnote>

in teaching, preparing lecture notes on a word processor, or writing
sounds like they need WordCruncher...

Anyway, I apologize to Ruth for the 'Disgusted of T W' nature of my
note, and if I had known she was going to read it, I would have put it
more politely. But I still believe that the pricing policy on the
Electronic Bard will discourage its wide acceptance. If it had cost
#50, or was on a CD, our order would have been in the post, and I
would have been on the phone to the library and the English department
recommending that they buy it, but as it is, all I had was a note from
my professor saying 'can we justify all this money?'.

One last question - did you pay Wells and Taylor (is that right?) to
do their work on text? if so, then the cost of your programmers for a
year must be tiny in proportion.

Sebastian Rahtz

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------15----
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 16:36
From: Wujastyk (on GEC 4190 Rim-C at UCL) <UCGADKW@EUCLID.UCL.AC.UK>
Subject: Oxford Electronic Publishing

I am appalled at these recent oubursts of indignation
concerning the cost of e-mail and the cost of
electronic publication.

Yours disgustedly,
(near Tunbridge Wells)