14.0272 methodological primitives

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 09/26/00

  • Next message: by way of Willard McCarty: "14.0273 conferences"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 272.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
             Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 07:16:14 +0100
             From: John Bradley <john.bradley@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: Re: 14.0258 methodological primitives?
    Willard: I would certainly support anyone who took the view that
    Wilhelm Ott's TuStep system provides a very solid set of "primitives"
    for the scholarly manipulation of text.  I have spent many hours of
    time examining their design (although I confess that my actual
    experience of using them has been very limited indeed) and can well
    appreciate that they could be combined to deal with a very large
    number of text manipulation needs.  Anyone seriously interested in
    thinking about what a design needs to include in detail would benefit
    much from examining TuStep in this way.
    The approach towards tools for generalised processing shown in TuStep
    is, from the computing perspective, a very old one -- but at the same
    time it is a model that is still often applied when a computing
    professional needs to do a complex computing task him/herself.  The
    UNIX environment with its basic "filtering" tools, a sorting
    program, some programmable text-oriented editors, and things like
    Perl, are based in very similar approaches.
    In Object Oriented (OO) design, there is a another way to design
    processing which is these days very much in fashion.  One perhaps key
    difference: Object Oriented design blurs the distinction Willard made
    in his first posting on this subject between data and process, and I
    think this makes a dramatic difference in the way one looks at the
    whole issue. It seems particularly well suited for modelling
    processes that involve the production of "interactive" and
    "GUI-based" systems. I don't know of anyone, however, who has managed
    to take OO design and apply it in quite the way implied here -- as a
    basis for the construction of primitives that non-programmers could
    adapt for specific tasks.  However, the original OO language --
    Smalltalk -- >was< designed to allow non-programmer users (children)
    to create significant applications of their own, and it retains, I
    think, some of this flavour of supporting the combination of
    experiment, development and processing in a single environment.
    Furthermore, I know of people who have a set of powerful objects (in
    Smalltalk, it turns out) they use and enhance over and over again to
    accomplish very sophisticated text manipulation tasks.
    Any tool meant to support activities as diverse as those that turn up
    in humanities text-based computing cannot possibly be trivial to
    learn or use. The level of professionalism and commitment required
    for a full use of TuStep is, I think, roughly comparable to that
    required to learn to work with, say, Perl, or (I think) Smalltalk and
    text-oriented Smalltalk objects.
    Best wishes.                        ... john b
    John Bradley

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : 09/26/00 EDT