9.142 two new Web items

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 1 Sep 1995 16:54:02 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 142.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1 ] From: "John D. Bradley" <john.bradley@utoronto.ca> (59)
Subject: TACTweb

[2] From: rog@cns.brown.edu (Roger B. Blumberg) (20)
Subject: MendelWeb)

Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 17:19:58 PDT
Subject: TACTweb

At the Santa Barbara ACH/ALLC conference in July, Geoffrey Rockwell and I
announced an experiemental version of a piece of software called TACTweb.
Because HUMANIST is a group of people with interests in both the Internet
and in Humanities computing, we thought that you'd also be interested in
knowing about it.

The original vision for the Web (as proposed by its developers at CERN in 1989)
was as a electronic publishing tool for researchers, where all the players were
both users and creators of materials. Although this is a view that suited the
technologically rich sciences, it has not been a view that fitted other fields
so easily. Currently at least, it seems that the number of Humanities-oriented
electronic publishers is small and most of those have limited their involvement
to preparing HTML documents and/or images and setting them up on a server. Very
few have been able to go the next step: using the web to make other types of
electronic resources, such as textual databases, accessible.

TACTweb is experimental software that allows an individual to publish TACT
textual databases on the Web. It requires an IBM PC on the Internet running
Windows 3.1 (we haven't tried TACTweb with Windows 95 yet), some public-domain
software, and the skills of a single moderately advanced Windows user. Any
individual with this equipment can make personally created TDBs available to
any other Web user. By using WWW forms these users get access to many of the
interactive services that TACT provides them -- but without requiring them to
use TACT itself, or have a copy of the published TACT database on their own
machine. They can formulate queries against a database using the same query
language used in TACT/UseBase, and can get results that look something like
those produced by UseBase in response. Because the WWW Forms language acts as
the interface, the TACTweb user doesn't need to learn how to interact with
TACTweb other than to learn how formulate the queries. Because they gain access
to the database via a WWW browser such as Netscape, Mosaic or Lynx, they can
use it whether they are a PC, Macintosh or Unix user.

Several people have expressed an interest in using TACTweb as a tool in their
teaching. With TACTweb we have included a beginners tutorial that was designed
to teach undergraduates about the basics of computer assisted text analysis.
This tutorial uses TACTweb to introduce students to the vocabulary and
experience of text analysis in a step by step fashion.

In addition to developing TACTweb, we have begun to formulate a set of views
about how some Web/Internet enhancements could more effectively support
Humanities scholarship which we briefly outlined in our Santa Barbara paper.
The ideas are, of necessity, very preliminary and we feel strongly the need
to discuss them with others. Because the Humanist community is a group of
Humanities/Computing users with many years of experience on the Internet, we'd
be delighted to try to discuss these with you.

In the meantime, if you'd like to try out TACTweb to get a sense of what it is
like, you can connect Netscape, Lynx or Mosaic to the TACTweb demonstration
site. The URL is:


>From there you will also find pointers that allow you to download both the
TACTweb and associated HTTPD software that will let you run it yourself.
The TACTweb software is not a "supported" product. As we gain a better
understanding of how the components work with the WWW, we expect to continue to
revise the software. However, the version you see today is available to you in
an "as-is" state. We make it available not as a finished product, but as a tool
to provoke experiment within the Humanities community on the use of the Web to
support scholarly discussion and research.

We'd welcome your comments on either the software or the tutorial.

John Bradley: john.bradley@utoronto.ca
Geoffrey Rockwell: grockwel@mcmaster.ca

From: rog@cns.brown.edu (Roger B. Blumberg)
Subject: an announcement for Humanist(s)

(For announcement on or after September 1, 1995)

The first edition of MendelWeb (http://www.netspace.org/MendelWeb/) is
now available. MendelWeb is a teaching and learning "sourcebook" built
upon Gregor Mendel's famous pea plant paper of 1865, and designed to
show how primary texts can be used to construct educational resources
that take advantage of hypertext, the connectivity of the World Wide
Web, and the collaborative possibilites of the Internet.

MendelWeb contains the texts of Mendel's original paper and an
English translation, texts that can be viewed as plain or annotated
html, and downloaded in a variety of formats. Also included are
notes, discussion and homework questions, and various secondary
materials linked to a variety of content-based sites on the Web. In
an effort to foster collaborative learning and teaching, MendelWeb
includes the Mendelroom (a Moo environment) and collaborative
hypertexts of both the German and English versions of Mendel's paper.