3.1313 Library Equipment; Hand-held Scanners; Counting (84)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 24 Apr 90 23:18:22 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1313. Tuesday, 24 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 22:44:19 CDT (28 lines)
From: Charles Ess <DRU001D@SMSVMA>
Subject: e-text hardware

(2) Date: Tue, 24 Apr 90 09:30 EDT (28 lines)
Subject: Text Scanning in the Study

(3) Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 20:37:28 EDT (30 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: the powers, false and true, of counting

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 22:44:19 CDT
From: Charles Ess <DRU001D@SMSVMA>
Subject: e-text hardware

Once again I request the wisdom of those of you who have traveled further
down this particular road than I.

In the continuing search for the elusive "scholar's workstation," I and
our library staff are groping for a network configuration which would
use a file server as the central depository for what will presumably
become an extensive database of e-texts, along with appropriate text
search and retrieval software and wordprocessing software.

We can't get too fancy -- nor too expensive. I would like your
collective advice on type of machine (recalling that we just went
through a major bad Apple versus International Big Muthah argument, so
perhaps many of those issues do not need repeating) and more especially
on storage devices. At the moment, we're assuming that much of the
available e-texts will be distributed on magnetic media rather than
CD-ROM, so that hard disks are in order, along with a CD-ROM reader. As
far as hard disks are concerned -- are there advantages, for example, in
terms of speed and throughput to attaching SCSI drives to a DOS machine?

Any suggestions -- both experiential and philosophical -- would be

Charles Ess
Drury College
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 90 09:30 EDT
Subject: Text Scanning in the Study

As a new member of HUMANIST, I have followed with interest and pleasure
the various on-going discussions over the past few months, particularly
those concerning e-texts. I would now like to make an inquiry of my own.
I am interested in text scanning. Over the past few days, I have read
all the files on the Listserver related to that subject. I found that
they deal almost exclusively with large-scale scanning operations. I,
on the other hand, am more interested in scanning in "the study."
Several months ago, I purchased a Logitech ScanMan Plus and Read-It
O.C.R. My aim was to use the hand-held scanner and OCR software as an
alternative to keying in quotations from the articles and books I read.
I have had many disappointments. Frist, I have not yet developed
techniques that allow me to scan directly from books or journals--I must
use photocopies instead. Second, Read-It O.C.R. is trainable; however,
the process of building type tables for each journal I read is a
frustratingly time consuming one.

I would welcome hearing from anyone who has had more successful
experiences than I with hand-held scanning of texts. I would also like
to learn about other OCR applications: OmniPage for IBM, CAT Reader,
CatchWord, and so on.

Hardy M. Cook

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------40----
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 20:37:28 EDT
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: the powers, false and true, of counting

If for the wrong reasons, the decline of numerical approaches to
non-numerical phenomena is as much to be resisted, I think, as their
elevation to godlike authority. I suppose that we have to expect that
resistance to false doctrine will take the shape of the equally wrong
antithesis of that doctrine. We've seen it with computers themselves,
right? I have known more than one person who overnight swung from
"computers can do nothing!" to "computers can do everything!" -- and
back again, of course, when the latter was proven wrong. The lucky ones
end up in the middle, with reality. For whatever reasons, to the
innumerate the folks with the statistical tables and z-scores seem to
have power even they themselves don't claim -- if they understand what
they're doing, that is. I think this (projected) power derives from the
stark terror of uncertainty to which at least literary critics, and I
suppose historians too, are subject. What do we do but build castles in
the air? Of course human beings are nothing whatever but beasts without
the ability to build and see such castles, but there's a loud chorus of
hardheads out there shouting "It's not real!" and when we're weak we
believe them. "Men are governed by the weakness of their imaginations"
(Walter Bagehot) -- despressing, but true.

Ok, so I rave. But let's hang on to the power of counting. It has real
power quite apart from the hallucinations of the desperate.

Yours, Willard McCarty