3.601 editor's report (66)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 17 Oct 89 20:46:46 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 601. Tuesday, 17 Oct 1989.

Date: 17 October 1989
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: editor's impressionistic progress report

Quite unnoticed by me, Humanist has quietly slipped by the 500 mark in
its membership. Some time ago I lost interest in the exact figure
because of the increasing number of institutions that have set up
accounts for redistribution. As far as I can tell (from the golden
silence) redistribution has proven satisfactory all around. If you
notice that there are a number of Humanists at your institution, I would
encourage you to investigate the possibility of a local "Humanists at X"
group. Such groups reduce network load and allow explicitly for an
audience of listeners as well as an agora of speakers and arguers.

My impression is that recently a number of librarians have joined
Humanist. I welcome these colleagues warmly because they are the
traditional custodians and providers of texts, images, and other
scholarly data, without which clever programs and cogent syllabi in
humanities computing are not much use. The signs are everywhere that
attention has turned to the problems of getting texts into
machine-readable form, obtaining the right to use them, designing an
appropriate markup so that their features can be recognized by software,
and allowing for storage, access, and distribution. Librarians have a
big role to play in all this.

Humanist has acquired the first members in South America (Brazil) and in
a communist country (Yugoslavia). Unfortunately, distribution to
Australia and New Zealand remains problematic because of the expense to
citizens of those countries. At the recent New-OED conference at Oxford,
one Australian arranged to get all of Humanist from the Oxford Text
Archive, for distribution back home, and during dinner he strongly
encouraged me to go ahead with plans for a CD-ROM, to contain all the
published contributions, all the files on the server, and Steve
DeRose's very fine HyperCard stack of the biographies. Apple Canada
has again expressed tentative interest in funding the first CD-ROM.
I will keep you posted. My plans are to attempt digitized images of
members on the second of these disks (sound and other sensory data
perhaps to be added later....).

One of the advantages to having Humanist on CD-ROM would be the ease
with which it could then be searched. My experience with Humanist
reminds me of Heraclitus' remark that (pardon mistakes, my Kirk and
Raven is not at hand) nobody steps into the same river twice. Some of
you will know about ListServ's database function, but unfortunately it
does not work well with Humanist -- the files are too large! I am
allowed to hint, I think, that elsewhere members are at work on
providing interactive access to Humanist over the network. Also, I
continue to assemble and keep topical collections on the file-server.

Finally, let me congratulate you all for making Humanist such a lively
and interesting seminar -- and for so successfully coping with the
volume of mail it generates. We may soon have to amend Milton's formula
to read "fit though many".

Willard McCarty