11.0229 old influence

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 21:28:31 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 229.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Carl Vogel <Carl.Vogel@cs.tcd.ie> (20)
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

[2] From: "N. Heer" <heer@u.washington.edu> (73)
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

[3] From: Ted Parkinson <parkinsn@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca> (44)
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

Date: Wed, 13 Aug 1997 00:26:17 +0100
From: Carl Vogel <Carl.Vogel@cs.tcd.ie>
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

>"Now that hundreds of thousands of people make use of free software, what's
next? A web browser, for one. Stallman also plans to develop word processing
software. It's a tantalizing notion, one that might bring Stallman's ideas
more directly into the mainstream. Instead of waiting the years it takes
for Microsoft to release ( and charge for) a new update of its popular
Word program, users of Stallman's software could email directly to the FSF
site. Scientists could modify the program to deal with complex
mathematical notations, while humanists might help develop the ultimate
poststructuralist thesaurus. These specialized versions would each be
available for downloading on the Internet. All that would be missing would
be the shrink wrap and the styrofoam." (pp. 47-48)<

one might argue that LaTeX already implements this. it's free.
it's powerful. it meshes with GNU. and it's mainstream, depending
on your stream. i'd argue that folks needn't hassle Stallman over
their desires for word processing, but should investigate the
time savings that would emerge from defining abstract document
and bibliography classes under latex and bibtex. The specialized
facilities already exist; it'd be a waste of resources to reinvent

kind regards,

Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 16:59:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: "N. Heer" <heer@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

We already have Richard Stallman's editor, Emacs, and it can be
used with Donald Knuth's typesetter, TeX. Both are in the public domain
and can be downloaded from many sites. You don't have to use TeX with
Emacs; you can use it with any editor. I've used TeX with PCWrite (an old
shareware program) for years and have always preferred TeX to any word
processor put out by a commercial company like Microsoft. TeX will do
anything you want it to, once you learn the proper markup language. There
are also versions of TeX for languages written in non-Latin scripts. I
use ArabTeX, developed by Klaus Lagally for Arabic-script languages. If
you want to do something with ArabTeX that it's not yet designed to do,
all you have to do is write to Lagally and he'll incorporate a way to do
it in his next version. Would Microsoft ever be so accommodating?

Nicholas Heer

Nicholas L. Heer, Professor Emeritus
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
University of Washington, Box 353120, Seattle, WA 98195-3120, USA
E-Mail: heer@u.washington.edu Telephone: 206-325-0852

Date: Wed, 13 Aug 1997 10:22:48 -0400
From: Ted Parkinson <parkinsn@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>
Subject: Re: 11.0226 influencing software development

Perhaps I'm misremembering, but I thought Stallman et al had already done
this. It's called "Emacs" and while it's true that it's only a text
"editor," it's free and does lots of things with multiple windows, and
when used in conjunction with something like LaTex, it manages to be very
flexible for the relatively few people who want to spend the time learning
it. Also, there already _is_ a free web browser: it's called "Microsoft
Explorer." However, the thought of users and "scientists" re-hacking a
program on an ongoing basis is a little frightening. I've used Nota Bene
for years, and it's an _excellent_ program with most everything a Humanist
could want, but its creators started with an excellent product (XYWrite),
employed talented programmers, learned support people and several sales and
office staff, and still have had problems (in the past) with upgrades and
stability, not to mention marketing.

Ted Parkinson, English, McMaster, Ontario, Canada

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