4.0547 The WP Saga's Markup Moral; Real Word Processing? (2/45)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 1 Oct 90 21:57:07 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0547. Monday, 1 Oct 1990.

(1) Date: Fri, 28 Sep 90 14:19 GMT (15 lines)
From: Oxford Text Archive <ARCHIVE@VAX.OXFORD.AC.UK>
Subject: Footnotes - the moral

(2) Date: 27 Sep 90 21:37:59 EST (30 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Why do we call them word processors?

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 90 14:19 GMT
From: Oxford Text Archive <ARCHIVE@VAX.OXFORD.AC.UK>
Subject: Footnotes - the moral

Surely the moral to be drawn, if there is one, is that those who live by
procedural markup shall die by same? If you mark up your text with
explicit (visible) tags like <note id=1>This is footnote 1</note> you
can safely export them to any formatter you please, provided it has a
rudimentary macro facility. Personally, the thing I find most annoying
about WP footnotes is the arbitrary distinction it makes between foot-
and end- notes. And the fact that you can only have one sequence of
foot- (and one of end-) notes. And ...

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 27 Sep 90 21:37:59 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Why do we call them word processors?

The programs, I mean. We were all struck by the waterfall of people
using WP and responding authoritatively to Bob Kraft's query, but it
reminded me of a nagging question that's been in mind for a while. Why
have programs that specialize in producing *paper* so dominated the
market? Why have the programs that have dominated the market chosen to
upgrade and enhance themselves chiefly by improving the way they handle
paper and the prettiness of the paper they put out? Couldn't we imagine
a `word processing program' that would function chiefly within a
computer environment, manipulating and presenting words in ways that
take advantage of the possibilities of the computer environment and only
secondarily worrying about how they will look on paper? Are there such
programs, only less well-known and less commercial? (Probably: any
recommendations?) Or when you move in that direction are you really
talking of what gets categorized as data-base programs or hypertext?

The question has a specific and more or less pressing aspect. Just
finishing one large project that began before I got my first computer,
I'm conscious that I have not fully utilized the power of the machine
yet. So before sinking into another project, I'm at least casting the
horizon for ideas about the kind of program to make my home in for a
while that will let me gather, organize, manipulate, and transmit
primary and secondary source material with the greatest efficiency.
WordPerfect and NotaBene are wonderful tools each in their own way, but
neither fits my fantasy; and data-base programs are also high-powered
toys, but there's a twain that doesn't quite meet. Do these meanderings
strike any chords with others? Any recommendations?