9.296 programming for the humanities

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Wed, 15 Nov 1995 18:32:18 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 296.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Tom Horton <tom@sunrise.cse.fau.edu> (39)
Subject: Re: Programming for the Humanities

In Humanist Vol. 9, No. 291, Eric Johnson gave a call for papers for a
special CHum issue on "programming for the humanities". This is a topic
that interests me, since at times I play the role of a investigator using
software to study textual problems (authorship, stylistics, text retrieval,
etc.) but "in my real job" I'm a computer scientist teaching and researching
in the area of software development.

Eric's posting raises some interesting issues. To help me think about
these, I'd like some feedback from those of you out there who are using or
have used software to study texts. (Eric's posting is broader than this,
but text processing is what I know best.) So this message is for those of
you who possess marked-up texts or some kind of "text-base" and are running
some kind of software on these.

First, I'd simply like to know what commercial, shareware, or third-party
programs are actively being used by humanists. For example,
- I know TACT and other CCH tools, WordCruncher, Collate, Tustep, OCP;
- Jack Lynch's Web page mentions fsconcordance, compare;
- I know about ARTFL's resources, or I did about two years ago.
My knowledge *is* about two years old, so I'm sure there are others. Maybe
there are SGML-oriented tools that have replaced some of these older
packages. Tell me what's out there and where I can find out more about it!

Second, are there many of you writing your own specialized tools to meet
needs that these "off the shelf" tools don't meet?

Finally, do you feel there is a large community of people actually using
these tools? I'm sure the folks directly associated with tools like TACT
and Collate may be able to provide specific numbers, but I'm just looking
for a general sense. (I wonder if these days fewer humanists are using
computer for text processing, and if teaching, hypermedia, etc. are where
the numbers are.)

Thanks for any insights. You can respond directly to me, or to Humanist.
By the way, my computer science interests that are relevant here include
capturing user requirements and then building reusable architectures and
components. For the last few years, I've spent a lot of time thinking about
software in Motorola pagers, but now maybe I can think about something more
relevant to Humanist readers!

Dr. Thomas B. Horton, Associate Professor
Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, FL 33431 USA Phone: 407/367-2674 FAX: 407/367-2800
Internet: tom@cse.fau.edu Bitnet: HortonT@fauvax