Print

Print


                                        Tromsoe, 3 Nov 1994
 
Dear world,
 
in recent mailings, Gloria McMillan wrote about her (necessarily
restricted) research experiments with a text editor and asked about
feedback on how to proceed; Janne Himanka asked about browsing tools
for TEI coded texts.  I may be wrong in generalizing, but I think
there are more people outside feeling similar needs --- at least there
is me, too.
 
When you read older reports on computer aided literary research, the
overall trend is that almost every project started from scratch with
homemade software for their specific purpose (as sophisticated as
circumstances and budgets allowed) and a homemade way of marking the
texts they're dealing with.  There is also some amount of software
sharing between projects and some commercial tools that are useful to
many projects and purposes (like WordCruncher, which I happen to
know).
 
The good thing, basically the main motivation, with TEI coding is that
it establishes a standard for almost all projects dealing with
electronic versions of literary texts.  This enables me to share the
results of my work with others (and to use others' work for my
purposes instead of redoing it).  It also provides a good guideline
for sensible coding, suggesting solutions where I might have
completely overlooked the problem.  BUT --- this really solves only
one part of the `individuality' problem in computer aided literary
research.
 
Now that many of us have arranged themselves with the coding schemes
and production tools for TEI coded texts (and I'd like to give three
big cheers to the authors of psgml and sgmls for their high quality
free products on this occasion!), we could perhaps discuss the other
half of the thing.  Like Janne Himanka, I have been wondering if I
should write a little browser, only that I have focused on the
presentation of textual variants.  Maybe it were a good idea if we
don't all retire to our little back chambers and hammer away on our
private little tools (that either will be rather restricted or keep us
from doing the things we originally wanted --- or both).  The obvious
alternative is going out shopping to EBT or SoftQuad or the like, but
I'd be very glad to be independent from the money-intensive commercial
tools and I think there are a lot of resources for free software
available.  Also, there will always be special research interests that
aren't covered by commercial tools.
 
What I'd be happy to see is a common effort to make available the
individually developed tools that live their secret life in the
institutes' backyards; (1) by making them in some way TEI compatible,
and (2) by telling others that they exist and are available.  I think
that the donator would benefit from this as well.  Also, the fact that
a standard exists might motivate programmers to set more effort in
their work and produce software with more general functionality.
 
Also, I'd be happy to share and discuss coded texts (where copyright
allows it) and the `coding philosophy' applied, research approaches
taken and results obtained.  Maybe this discussion list would be a
good place for this, as it provides good contact to like-minded people
without the formality of a paper report.  I think, this too would be a
kind of openness everybody would profit from, the giver as well as the
taker.
 
I myself am really only part time concerned with these issues, but as
soon as I can provide something useful, I'll be glad to live up to my
ideals.
 
         Whew --- I hope this wasn't too grand and blown up.
 
                           Have a nice day!
 
 
Tobias Rischer
 
...........................................
:       [i Tromsoe til ca. 6'95]          :
:                                   :-)   :
: Tobias Rischer                          :
: Tunveien 9 A21                          :
: 9018 TROMSOE                            :
:   NORGE                                 :
:                                         :
: email:                                  :
:   [log in to unmask]                :
:  ([log in to unmask])    :
:.........................................: