10.0678 COCOA/OCP

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 7 Feb 1997 19:54:28 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 678.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Pamela Cohen <pac@rci.rutgers.edu> (13)
Subject: Re: 10.0668 COCOA/OCP

[2] From: Lou Burnard <lou@vax.ox.ac.uk> (32)
Subject: RE: 10.0668 COCOA/OCP

Date: Fri, 07 Feb 1997 10:06:41 -0500
From: Pamela Cohen <pac@rci.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 10.0668 COCOA/OCP

A correction: The Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities is jointly
sponsored by Rutgers and Princeton Universities.

> [1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (24)
> > If it is important, you could get in touch with Susan Hockey,
>who could give you more information. She is Director of the Center for
>Electronic Texts in the Humanities at Princeton.
Pamela Cohen
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
169 College Avenue, New Brunswick NJ 08903
phone: (908) 932-1384 / fax: (908) 932-1386

Date: Fri, 07 Feb 1997 11:08:08 +0000
From: Lou Burnard <lou@vax.ox.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 10.0668 COCOA/OCP

Jim Marchand writes

| OCP is the "baby" of Susan Hockey, and she would have been stupid to have
|ignored COCOA, in which she was steeped (no pun intended). In fact, OCP
|seems to be sort of a porting of COCOA to other venues, e.g. IBM mainframe.
|OCP was used on mainframes everywhere; when the PC revolution came about, it
|got ported to the desktop under the name Micro-OCP. Voila\!

There are quite a few articles in the literature (e.g. back issues of Literary
and Linguistic Computing) about the genesis of the Oxford Concordance Program
and its design goals. As one of those involved with the design, I would like to
put right the imputation -- attributable I am sure to a lapse of memory only --
that OCP was a "porting of COCOA to other venues". On the contrary, its design
and implementation were a conscious attempt at synthesizing the best of what
had been done before, in the light of what were then beginning to emerge as the
requirements of "computing humanists". So, yes, OCP implemented the same style
of markup as COCOA had required, but it also supported styles of markup
favoured by other programs, such as the free-standing tags used by the
Cambridge suite of concordancing tools, and the fixed field references used by
dozens of programs still wedded to the cardpunch metaphor. (It didn't
understand SGML, but if that had been invented in the 1970s, it would have!).
It plundered features from several other programs as well as from COCOA,
notably one called CLOC, which was produced at Birmingham University to do
collocations. Its command language owes something to COBOL. As features were
thrown together by the designers' imaginations, they were also validated by
some exhaustive and exhausting field trials and surveys of the potential user

However, as we all know memories are unreliable and prone to reinterpretation.
There is a large written record not just about OCP, but about a large number of
the other programs around at that time. May I suggest a visit to a library?
(A good one to choose is in Tuebingen, if your travel funds will stretch to it,
where Wilhelm Ott's centre has a very impressive collections of
Humanities Computing related materials)

Lou Burnard