9.611 software desires & development

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 23:15:35 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 611.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "Gary W. Shawver" <gshawver@epas.utoronto.ca> (12)
Subject: Re: 9.609 whither software?

[2] From: Robert Kraft <kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu> (75)
Subject: Re: 9.609 whither software?

[3] From: tellier@lifac.ens-cachan.fr (5)
Subject: software for the evolution of words

Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 10:10:14 -0500
From: "Gary W. Shawver" <gshawver@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 9.609 whither software?

Not sure I'm up to some of the broader issues surrounding text analysis
software packages (tasp's), but here goes. To my mind one of the biggest
shortcomings with my tasp (TACT) is its inability to follow multiple lines
of inquiry more or less simultaneously, which is how most of us work. As
for what tasp packages will look like in 20 years (I'm not sure of your
'functions' versus 'design' distinction) here's my wish list: rudimentary
understanding of natural languages (OK, so I'm dreaming . . .), editable
text databases (or none at all), multitasking, oral user interface (oui) or
oral interface (oi!). Perhaps I'm getting silly now. Let's here from
someone else.

Gary W. Shawver, University of Toronto
E-Mail: gshawver@epas.utoronto.ca
WWW: http://www.epas.utoronto.ca:8080/~gshawver/gshawver.html

Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 21:40:14 -0500 (EST)
From: Robert Kraft <kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.609 whither software?

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 609.
> [1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu> (14)
> >
> I would like to raise a broad question about where software development
> might be going. I suppose I put as little faith in predicting the future as
> anyone, but attempting it is sometimes a useful way of sounding the present,
> and in particular what we at this moment want software to become. So let me
> propose here an exercise in prediction.
> Take, for example, software for textual analysis -- a particular interest of
> mine. What will textual analysis systems look like in 20 years? I don't mean
> to ask what functions will they have, rather how will they be designed so as
> better to suit what we need? Another way of asking the same thing, I
> suppose, is to identify the single most serious shortcoming of all present
> systems.

Is there a central location where information can be found about
software to meet various types of "humanities" computing needs -- or a
web site with the appropriate links? If not, this would be a valuable
service. If so, please, where? What I have in mind is looking backwards
to the sorts of things we have longed for, or perhaps criticized, over
the years, and looking forward to what we think would be most useful as
things develop. Of course, identifying the categories (if that has not
already been done -- I think of the old list by John Hughes of desirable
features for text processing and manipulation software, for example)
might be a chore, since many of us have specific needs or interests that
might be nearly idiosyncratic, but we won't get far without such

Enough in the abstract. Some concrete examples:
(1) I've been looking for "comparison" type software to help me not only
to identify differences in different versions of text files (e.g. when
two of you independently correct typos found in an electronic
publication for which I serve as quality-control maintainer) on a word
by word basis (there are lots of line by line comparers, but if someone
reformats the lines ...) but to permit me to choose interactively what I
want in the updated version; I have one promising lead to check
(DocuComp from Mastersoft, for a significant price), and I know that
certain things are possible in some wp programs (Word, for example), but
so far I have been surprised by the lack of available software for such
an obvious and relatively simple task.
(2) Richard Goerwitz called my attention recently to a program at
Chicago (experimental, at present) that can insert links to biblical
passage IDs (e.g. Rom. 5.12 or whatever) in html coded files -- thus
producing a file that will get the user to the actual text to which
reference is made. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a valuable
step in a useful direction -- to be expanded for all such references,
when linkages are possible, of course.
(3) Back when some of us used IBYCUS System computers regularly, if not
exclusively, we found ourselves in touch with a world of special
software items geared especially to the production and manipulation of
(especially ancient) texts, usually written by the users themselves
(including myself). As IBYCUS gradually faded for many users, so did the
availability of the programs. I have tried for years to get one of our
engineering students to do a conversion program of some sort that would
work with the old IBYX programs, for example, as a senior project, but
have not succeeded thus far. Most of you will not realize how valuable
such a transition could and would be. The Packard Humanities Institute
is still intensively IBYCUS oriented, as are a few other centers or
individuals, and has some of the best software for such things, but it
can only run on IBYCUS.
(4) For some years I have been producing textcritical files (for the old
Greek Jewish scriptures = "LXX/OG") in a format suited to encoding the
existing textcritical apparatuses, from which any given manuscript or
family of manuscripts could be recreated as needed (out of the hundreds
of collated MSS) for any given portion. (On IBYCUS, we had a program to
perform this task.) Thus far, the powerful COLLATE program for Macs
works the opposite way, needing the full files from which it creates the
apparatus. Better software to interact between formats (this would be
possible in several ways), not to mention running COLLATE on non-Mac
machines (I guess this can be done; I just haven't tried, given the
other problem of format compatibility), would seem to me very desirable.
At very least, a central index that can get me to the appropriate
information (can I do this or this with COLLATE, or TUSTEP, or with
other software for textcritical manipulation) would seem desirable.

Sorry for the length. Talking about such details gets out of hand
easily. And I haven't even mentioned SGML directly!

Bob Kraft, UPenn

Date: Mon, 04 Mar 1996 17:58:25 +0100
From: tellier@lifac.ens-cachan.fr
Subject: software for the evolution of words

[From the Linguist List]

Dear linguists,

Friends of mine who do not have access to the net are
wandering if there exists a software to simulate the
evolution of words. For example, entering a latin word
and classical evolution rules, you could obtain the
possible french word(s) derived from it.
Have you ever heard of such tool ?

Thank you for responses,

Isabelle TELLIER
LIFAC, Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan,
61 avenue du President Wilson
94235 CACHAN Cedex France
tel : (16-1) 47 40 24 28
fax : (16-1) 47 40 24 64
E-mail: Isabelle.TELLIER@lifac.ens-cachan.fr