10.0583 reflections on progress

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Sat, 11 Jan 1997 11:23:35 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 583.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Marta Steele <Marta_Steele@Pupress.Princeton.Edu> (34)
Subject: early computing, etc.

I feel as though I may be speaking too soon, again, before the
thought is fully formulated, but it is consistent with others that
have occurred to me recently, common theme being clutteration
engendered by two many different ingenious techniques contrived to
accomplish the same function: in this case, to set Greek down on the
computer screen.

Way back in the earlier seventies, as a research assistant I
keypunched the _Medea_ onto computer cards while down the coast a
ways UCI hit the news with the million-dollar grant they received to
begin work on TLG. Even then I was elated by the idea of being able
to search through all of Greek (and Latin) literature by means of
simple pressing a few keys.

It's still so complicated, though, and expensive, twenty-odd years
later. Perhaps because there is not enough money to invest in the
research. As usual, there are other priorities and people don't
understand the importance of this facility.

I don't understand why it should still be so difficult to type Greek
onto a computer screen, read Greek on a screen from someone else's
disks, access the literature and search it (pace TLG and Perseus,
etc., I'm delighted they exist). I think we need one Greek font that
will work with all programs, both at the input and reception levels.
If this exists, great, but why is it not in universal use? I have a
feeling it would be quite easy to create, even something applicable
to both PC and MAC programs. I would like to see TLG and Perseus,
etc., in more accessible, less expensive forms adaptible to any PC or

Just wishful thinking. With all that we've accomplished
technologically, I wish we were farther along in these areas. We have
progressed from the most complex programming simply to word-process a
page of regular text (remember the old Tandy processing programs of
the early eighties?); so it's possible in ancient Greek also. And if
the work is already being done, bravo; I just haven't heard about it.

Marta Steele

Comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own and do not
reflect the opinions, attitudes, or viewpoints of my employers.