9.185 of wordprocessing...

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 18:47:53 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 185.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca> (14)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

[2] From: Richard Bear <RBEAR@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU> (18)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

[3] From: "Sarah L. Higley" <slhi@troi.cc.rochester.edu> (19)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

[4] From: Roger Brisson <rob@psulias.psu.edu> (17)
Subject: Word processors

[5] From: Ted Underwood <wu10@cornell.edu> (7)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

[6] From: "James R. Adair" <jadair@emoryu1.cc.emory.edu> (17)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

[7] From: Cmartc@aol.com (80)
Subject: Word processing

Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 21:58:41 -0400
From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

This is in response to Humanist 9.182, on the Dvorak-supposed end of
evolutionary development for wordprocessing. Perhaps Mr. Dvorak's
imagination has reached its limit, but I don't see that wordprocessing has.
For example, the distinction between wordprocessing and desktop publishing
is an artificial one, increasingly harder to maintain, that needs to be
obliterated by more sophisticated WP software. Most macro languages for WP
could be made considerably easier to learn and use. Analysis of grammar and
style, arguably a WP function, is in its infancy, to put the matter
politely. Perhaps the area most in need of work, however, is integration of
software tools. WP is so fundamental to what we do with computers that a
single program should be able to serve a number of applications.


Willard McCarty, Centre for Computing in the Humanities (Toronto)
(416) 978-3974 voice (416) 978-6519 fax mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca

Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 20:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

I like word processing to be simple and produce clean ASCII without being
told to do so. I like Word better than WordPerfect, WordStar (5.0) better
than Word, and PCWrite better than WordStar. I type my Spenser texts with
PCWrite on an AT, upload them to a Sparcstation account via Kermit/Procomm
at 2400 baud, proofread them with Pico under Unix. Also use Eve a lot on
the VAX. Hate trying to run anything under Windows. Have learned to
appreciate Claris Works on the Mac; not all that intuitive but has impressive
capabilities for the price. I use it for typesetting books and regard its
output on the Hewlett-Packard laser here as adequate camera-ready copy.
Have never used Nota Bene and have yet to meet anyone who does.

My preference would be for a combined word processing/scanning/telecommunica-
tions beast with teachable fonts, not in modules but one program, designed
to do what you want done with text: SGML, PostScript, TeX, ASCII, with
point & click macros for webifying, etc. It should be able to switch in
and out of Netscape as easily as Pico does with Lynx...and cost nothing!


Richard Bear

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 08:20:45 -0400
From: "Sarah L. Higley" <slhi@troi.cc.rochester.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

As long as there are people writing, wordprocessing is a thriving industry.
I can't imagine how Dvorak could make such a stupid prediction about its
"demise." It's sort of like saying, well plumbing has developed about
as far as it ever will, so I predict its "demise."

I use Nota Bene, which is very complicated, and which acts up on me
constantly. Yet I'm reluctant to switch to Word Perfect, or worse,
Microsoft Word for a number of reasons, one being I hate learning new
systems and I know NB very well; I like being able to open nine files
at a time and consult them like the pages of a book. As for Word, I
loath having to take my hands off the keyboard to use the mouse. In
NB I've customized the keyboard painstakingly so that the control key
works as a "stick shift." In combination with left hand letters, I can
shift through the text at lightening speed, never taking my eyes off the
monitor or my hands off the board. I can correct considerably faster
than anybody I've seen using MS word. I'm very irritated that all
keyboards have transposed the caps lock and the control key. I hope that
more keyboards, including laptops, will offer programmable capabilities
in the future. That's my biggest gripe. It hurts my wrist to twist
down to the new spot for the control key.

Sarah L. Higley

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 09:28:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: Roger Brisson <rob@psulias.psu.edu>
Subject: Word processors

I disagree entirely with Dvorak. I use WinWord 6.0 on both high-end Mac and
Intel platforms, and while it possesses a wealth of text processing
features, it has a long way to go before it becomes the intuitive instrument
humanists would like to see. Aside from its many snags and glitches,
WinWord has forfeited ease of use precisely because of its unnecessary
complexity. What companies like Microsoft need to work on-- and here I
believe they're only now moving beyond infancy-- is a happy marriage of
complex features and ease of use.

For a number of humanists like myself I believe there will be an increasing
need for a high-end word processor that fully integrates HTML/SGML markup
and Web-based text preparation. Internet Assistant for WinWord still needs
a lot of work. I just ordered WordPerfect 3.5, which incorporates some
level of HTML markup, so I can't say yet if Novell has made any strides in
this area. As Web-based publishing becomes increasingly accepted in the
humanities, the ensemble of features that facilitate HTML text preparation
will grow in importance.

Roger Brisson
Pennsylvania State University

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 10:03:37 -0400
From: Ted Underwood <wu10@cornell.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

In regard to Paul Falzer's question about the demise of wordprocessing in
9.182: I have to say I agree with Mr. Dvorak. It sounds to me as though
the editor Mr. Falzer spoke to, far from wanting new functions, was content
with the functions available in programs now considered out-of-date.

I'm still using an older version of my word processor though I could have a
new version free of charge. I don't see any point in wasting memory or
hard disk space on baloon help, or other "bells and whistles" I won't use.

Ted Underwood wu10@cornell.edu

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 09:59:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: "James R. Adair" <jadair@emoryu1.cc.emory.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.182 demise of wordprocessing?

I am generally satisfied with the features of the word processors I use,
with one glaring exception: the inability to handle multilingual texts
adequately. An ideal word processor, in my opinion, should allow one to
switch from one language to another effortlessly. This is especially
important when dealing with languages with non-Latin alphabets and
right-to-left (or top-to-bottom) directions. The word processor should
be able to handle word-wrap without any difficulty. In addition,
contextual characters (i.e., those whose appearance changes based on
their position within a word) should be supported for languages such as
Arabic or Hebrew. A partial solution to this deficiency in word
processing would be support of Unicode. I know that some word procesors
on the market currently support these features, at least to some extent,
but they are not yet widespread or, as far as I can tell, fully functional.

Jimmy Adair
Manager of Information Technology Services, Scholars Press
Managing Editor of TELA, the Scholars Press World Wide Web Site
---------------> http://scholar.cc.emory.edu <-----------------

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 12:55:11 -0400
From: Cmartc@aol.com
Subject: Word processing

Hi--A friend sent your e-mail message on word-processing to me, and I'd like
to respond.

I am a full-time freelance reporter and writer doing technical trade-press
stuff in health and the law. I ordinarily use, on my Mac Performa 6115CD, two
word-processing programs: One is a full-fledged monster that does everything
but perk my coffee. The other is a relatively low-end packet that doesn't
perk much of anything at all. (I also use a 286 DOS and WordPerfect 5.1, but
only when a client says I have to do it.)

Neither Monster nor Low Perk really works for me, although an earlier version
of Monster did the job fairly well.

Monster is now so huge and slow and it has so many bells and whistles it's a
major research effort just to figure out what they are, much less try to use
them. And while I tend to actually use Low Perk because it's faster, doesn't
clog up my computer, and requires less effort (that is, sloth), I usually end
up annoyed because it's missing so many things. I have to do a time-consuming
spellcheck with Low Perk to get a word count, for example, and word counts
are pretty important in my profession.

Here's what I'd love to be able to have and do (maybe I already do and can
and don't know it, but that's part of the problem, isn't it?):

* Choose the RAM-eating features that go into my package and be able to
instantly change them at the click of a button.
* Have a package where teaching, tutoring and explaining how to use the
package is not just a high priority but part of something major. Manuals,
instructions, even on-screen help are in such a primitive state, and so
painful to use, and often of such little help they're pathetic. I think we
1) Access to lots of options for different kinds of learners who will
inevitably have many different needs, including print needs for those still
in the Gutenberg mode (that's me).
2) Better on-screen help with sophisticated, detailed entries designed by
people who KNOW how to teach and sophisticated detailed INDEXING, not a crude
enumeration of twelve basic things your package can do and no way to get to
the fine points.
3)Instant and detailed tutorials. If I suddenly discover I need to make, say,
an outline of what I'm doing, and have no idea where to begin, please don't
make me stop my work for half a day to find out.

Give me an instant on-screen option, accessible via a click, that will walk
me through it then and there. Not an abstract discussion I'll have to try to
figure out on my own, maybe without much success until the fourth try. I
don't have the time. Let me open a tutorial window, perhaps one that will
interact with the document I'm working on, and have it show me bang-bang-bang
what to do right now.

One of the reasons I don't really know what Monster can do for me is that I
simply do not have several days or weeks free to sit around and learn it,
wading through feature after feature I may never ever use. (This particular
difficulty drives me wild.)
* Have a program so aware of what I actually do that, after a week or two, it
will be able to tell me which features I use most often, which related
features I'm ignoring and should maybe try, and which sort-of-related
features I might want to take a look at and learn.
* Have access to package features classed by occupation or inclination or
something. Give me list of features that will be good for me if I'm an
administrative assistant who does such and so or if I work in an accounting
firm or if I write long documents or if I do tacky newsletters with cartoons
in them. Give 'em to me in print and on screen with those snazzy tutorials
available right away.

And, best of all, I'd love to have word processing that would talk to me of
many things. Let me choose to have it speak about, oh, errors, including
typos, say, as well as options, features I might want to use, the time of day
(I tend to get absorbed) and other matters-the number of words in my document
so far, and did I call so and so this morning?

And I would love to have easy access to a voice that will tell me how long
I've had the package open today /this week and how many minutes or hours of
that I've actually spent typing. What percentage of my document has been
revised? Am I making more typing errors today compared to yesterday because I
didn't get enough sleep or is sleep irrelevant?

And which words or phrases am I repeating too often? Have I kept the
construction parallel in the bullet list I just completed? That is, a few
copy-editing features to speed revisions would be nice. (Grammar-checking
features are worse than useless for someone like me and other writers I've
talked to about this agree.)

And, finally, a word-processing package that would transcribe my phone
interviews for me, write them out automatically as I talked-that would be the
best of all possible wor(l)ds.

I realize that a package that could do all this would have to be a
super-Monster and even slower than the Big Ones now. Which would probably
send me back to my annoying Low Perk. But you're talking wish list, right?
Not anything that could actually make my work a little easier in my
lifetime, I presume.

But thanks for asking!