Offline 23 (291)

Wed, 29 Mar 89 20:10:08 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 780. Wednesday, 29 Mar 1989.

Date: Thursday, 23 March 1989 2338-EST
Subject: OFFLINE 23


<O F F L I N E 23>
by Robert A. Kraft


I'm a bit frustrated in preparing this issue of
OFFLINE. I had intended to provide a relatively
complete, topically organized list of computer archives
as a followup to OFFLINE 22. It would have made my job
easier, since I am committed to helping prepare such a
list for circulation at the Toronto conference in June
in any event. But all of the desired information is not
yet in hand, so the list will have to wait.

Meanwhile, the index of miscellaneous pieces of
information that cross my desk and are identified as
possible items to mention in OFFLINE has grown rather
large. Thus it makes sense for me to use this occasion
to do some housecleaning on that score. Please forgive
me if the column seems to be more lacking in cohesion
and/or inspiration than usual. Perhaps this scattershot
approach will at least make occasional hits among the

<Keeping up with the Terminology>

New terms are constantly surfacing in the discussions
of computer research. In the first couple of OFFLINE
columns, I even began to construct a glossary of
relevant terms, although that never became as consistent
a feature of the column as I originally envisioned.
Nevertheless, readers will have been tripping across
such terms as "CD-ROM" and "hypertext" and "shareware"
in subsequent columns.

I have made an attempt to define them -- "CD-ROM"
stands for Compact Disk with Read Only Memory, which
means that masses of electronic material can be stored
on this "optical" or "laser disk" medium (not a magnetic
device like the normal diskettes), but that the user
cannot modify or add to what is already fixed on the
disk (it is "read only," not read/write). A similar, but
slightly more flexible storage medium is called "WORM,"
for Write Once but Read Many times. The main practical
difference is that special equipment is needed to
"master" (fix the data on) a CD-ROM so that it is not
usually done inhouse, while the WORM drive permits the
user to store the material on the WORM disk and add to
it (but not change it) periodically as desired. Now
entering the picture are disks with similarly large
storage capacity that have the read/write capability.
You will be hearing more about them.

But you knew most of that (see OFFLINE 6, already).
And you also knew that "hypertext" refers to the
electronic coordination of various types of available
information (e.g. text, dictionary, pictures, even
sound) so that the user can move back and forth (often
by using multiple windows that can coexist
simultaneously on the computer screen) between the
various interrelated elements (see OFFLINE 15 and 19).
Similarly, you have been exposed to "shareware" or
computer software made available to whomever asks, with
the expectation that if you find it useful, you will pay
a modest fee to the author (OFFLINE 16). Such neologisms
as "vaporware" and "airware" are largely
selfexplanatory, referring somewhat playfully or
cynically to unfulfilled promises.

Some other relevant terms in vogue that have not been
discussed here include "expert system" and "authoring
system." Both of these refer to a special type of
computer software that stands between the user (who
operates through a "user interface" that hopefully is
"friendly" or even "transparent" at the "front end" of
the process) and the more technical computer languages
(which can be either "high level" like C or Pascal with
simple commands that can trigger complex chains of
responses in the machine, or "low level" like Assembly,
which stands relatively closer to "machine language" and
the most basic yes/no alternatives that ultimately
operate the computer). Incidentally, to become more
familiar with just how it all works, there is a
"friendly" if not painless section at the beginning of
John Hughes' BITS, BYTES & BIBLICAL STUDIES (Zondervan,
1987) that I would highly recommend. Hughes also has an
extensive glossary of terms.

But I digress. An "expert system," if I understand how
the term is usually used, refers to a specially
constructed software system (program or package) that
attempts to emulate the "logic" of a particular
perspective or approach, such as for making medical
diagnoses or anticipating stock market trends or
correctly interpreting human language. It is created for
a certain type of user in a specifically defined context
in which inferences are drawn by applying rules to
relevant data in order to produce recommendations. My
optical scanner identifies the first item in the
sequence 1989 as a number, not as a lower case letter
"l" or an upper case letter "I" (which could also be a
roman numeral), because it stands next to numbers. That
identification is an inference drawn and acted upon by
the scanner's expert system.

An "authoring system" permits the user to create,
within specified limits, an intermediate set of software
commands to deal with "user-defined" problems. An
authoring system could be built on an expert system,
giving the user more freedom to specify the context and
goals. It might also work in close connection with
"query language" by which various options/selections are
presented for the user's choice (an "interactive"
approach). The main point is that an authoring system
provides the basis from which a user who may not be
adept at "computer programming" can accomplish a certain
range of programming tasks in a particular context --
can produce user-defined results. Packages such as
HyperTalk/HyperCard (for the Mac) come to mind in this
connection, providing a high degree of user flexibility
and power. To some extent, but perhaps closer to "query
language" than to a highly developed "authoring system,"
are programs such as DBase or Lotus 1-2-3 or the Oxford
Concordance Program. These are general programs that
permit the user to fine tune the performance for
particular needs. The greater the flexibility available
to the user, and the ability to generate non-trivial
instructions, the closer we come to a clear "authoring
system." Computer assisted instruction is an area in
which authoring systems offer great potential.

<Keeping in Touch and "in Print">

I am encouraged to report that Scholars Press has now
joined the electronic network, with the BITNET address
SCHOLARS@EMORYU1. For e-mail addicts like myself, this
will greatly facilitate contact, exchange of
information, etc. In a similar vein, as of March 1989,
the HUMANIST group (contact MCCARTY@UTOREPAS) on the
international university networks had grown to more than
400 members, a fact that helps illustrate the speed with
which revolutions in modes of communication are taking
place (the FAX machine is another illustration, about
which I know very little at present). Various other
electronic groups with special interests have also
sprung up, as I mentioned in OFFLINE 22, one of the most
recent of which is editors of scholarly journals.
Specific groups with which I try to keep in touch in
this way, for various reasons, include archaeologists,
anglo-saxon scholars, Jewish studies people, and IBYCUS

It is not surprising, then, to find that conventional
forms of publication and distribution are being
challenged by the new media. OFFLINE itself is
circulated as a "pre-publication" service to members of
the (free) HUMANIST group as soon as the ink is dry -- I
mean, the electrons have settled -- thus several weeks
before it appears in "hardcopy." There are now some
journals that circulate entirely in electronic form,
such as PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY QUARTERLY (1986- ), from
Marquette University. Oxford University Press has just
announced the availability of the NEW OXFORD ENGLISH
DICTIONARY on CD-ROM, and of the works of SHAKESPEARE on
20 diskettes (IBM/DOS). I have myself sought and
received permission from Mohr/Siebeck in Tuebingen to
reissue in electronic form the English edition of Walter
which is now out of print in hardcopy. And I hope to do
the same with other publications with which I have been

<New Software and Data of Potential Interest>

Notices concerning various computer products
constantly come to my attention, and I try to take note
of any that seem especially relevant to OFFLINE readers.
But the procedure is rather haphazard (you should see my
office!), so the serious reader should refer to more
systematic sources such as John Hughes' BITS & BYTES

A second CD-ROM has now been issued by PHI (Packard
Humanities Institute, 300 Second St, Palo Alto CA
94022), containing the Duke Documentary Papyri. As with
the PHI[/CCAT] #1 disk and the TLG C disk, this can be
accessed from the IBYCUS SC without any additional
software, and from other machines as well. For Apple
Macintosh users, the PANDORA software from the Harvard
based PERSEUS Project is now available -- contact Elli
Mylonas, Classics, Boylston Hall 319, Harvard
University, Cambridge MA 02138. For IBM/DOS type
computers, the options include: (1) CCAT's OFFLOAD and
associated software being produced here at Penn by Alan
Humm and his staff; (2) the GREEKUT program by Tony
Smith (University of Manchester; available through
CCAT/OFFLINE), especially for the Greek; (3) John
Baima's "LBase" software (constantly being upgraded)
which can now search directly from the CD-ROMs and
display in Greek, Hebrew, Latin/English, etc. (5415
North East 47th St, Vancouver WA 98611); (4) and a newly
announced shareware program by Randall M. Smith
(Classics, U CA at Santa Barbara 93106) geared
especially for the Greek and Latin materials.

At the level of data distribution, it was already
noted in OFFLINE 20 that CCAT is now making available in
diskette format the Latin Vulgate, certain Aramaic
Targumic texts, and Newman's concise Lexicon of the
Greek New Testament (UBS). To this list can be added
sections of the Sahidic Coptic Bible, the
morphologically analyzed New Testament, and the indices
to the Journal of Biblical Literature (vols 61-100) and
the Westminster Theological Journal (1938-88). Standard
orders will be referred to secondary distributors such
as DOVE Booksellers, 3165 West 12 Mile Road, Berkley MI
48072; tel 313 547-9659. Hopefully, this will help
eliminate the long waits some of you have experienced in
getting orders filled by CCAT. Please accept our

I have little time for reviewing software products
that are sent to me (sometimes at my request), although
I have every intention of doing some selective reviews
in the future. Fortunately, John Hughes has covered many
of them in his 1987 book and in his review journal. For
the moment let me quickly mention the wide range that is
represented. Biblical materials with accessing software
on diskette (e.g. CompuBible, WORDsearch, the Bible Word
Program, ThePerfectWord for Mac) and on CD-ROM (FABS,
Ellis Enterprises; see OFFLINE 19) constitute one end of
the spectrum. Programs for multilingual text
manipulation also abound (e.g. LBase, MultiLingual
Scholar, NotaBene, Oxford Concordance Program, CATSSBase
for the Mac from Galen Marquis in Jerusalem). There is
software aimed mainly at pastoral use (e.g. a program
called Lexegete), at basic language instruction (NT
Greek tutorial), at complex linguistic analysis
(MacKinnon/McGill program). Surely I have forgotten some
that are physically present here, and I have not even
attempted to speak of others concerning which reports
have been heard (e.g. the PhiloLogic search and
retrieval system for the Mac, from the ARTFL project in
Chicago). But it is clear that much activity is taking
place at a variety of levels!

<Information Sources and Requests>

I am mercifully nearing the end of the accumulation of
"things to mention" on OFFLINE. The slate will soon be
clear, at least for the moment. The CAL (Comprehensive
Aramaic Lexicon) Project has issued a Newsletter and
requests information about encoded Aramaic texts that
could be incorporated into the Project (contact Delbert
Hillers, Johns Hopkins Univ, Baltimore MD). This is a
major language archive for ancient studies. The AIBI
(Association Internationale: Bible et Informatique)
issues a regular newsletter called INTERFACE (in
French), which is an excellent resource for information
of various sorts (reports, announcements, notes, etc.).
AIBI also holds conferences (see OFFLINE 19), publishes
conference volumes, and sponsors an electronic interest
group (oh yes, I'm on that one too!). Contact PROBI,
CIB-Maredsous, B-5198 Denee, Belgium.


Please send information, suggestions or queries
concerning OFFLINE to Robert A. Kraft, Box 36 College
Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
19104-6303. Telephone (215) 898-5827. BITNET address:
KRAFT at PENNDRLS (no longer PENNDRLN). To request
information or materials from OFFLINE (or from CCAT),
please supply an appropriately sized, self-addressed
envelope or an address label.