[previous] [Table of Contents] [Next]

Workshop on Electronic Texts
Session II.

Show and Tell

Jacqueline HESS, director, National Demonstration Laboratory, served as moderator of the "show-and-tell" session. She noted that a question-and-answer period would follow each presentation.

MYLONAS

Elli MYLONAS, managing editor, Perseus Project, Harvard University, first gave an overview of Perseus, a large, collaborative effort based at Harvard University but with contributors and collaborators located at numerous universities and colleges in the United States (e.g., Bowdoin, Maryland, Pomona, Chicago, Virginia). Funded primarily by the Annenberg/CPB Project, with additional funding from Apple, Harvard, and the Packard Humanities Institute, among others, Perseus is a multimedia, hypertextual database for teaching and research on classical Greek civilization, which was released in February 1992 in version 1.0 and distributed by Yale University Press.

Consisting entirely of primary materials, Perseus includes ancient Greek texts and translations of those texts; catalog entries--that is, museum catalog entries, not library catalog entries--on vases, sites, coins, sculpture, and archaeological objects; maps; and a dictionary, among other sources. The number of objects and the objects for which catalog entries exist are accompanied by thousands of color images, which constitute a major feature of the database. Perseus contains approximately 30 megabytes of text, an amount that will double in subsequent versions. In addition to these primary materials, the Perseus Project has been building tools for using them, making access and navigation easier, the goal being to build part of the electronic environment discussed earlier in the morning in which students or scholars can work with their sources.

The demonstration of Perseus will show only a fraction of the real work that has gone into it, because the project had to face the dilemma of what to enter when putting something into machine-readable form: should one aim for very high quality or make concessions in order to get the material in? Since Perseus decided to opt for very high quality, all of its primary materials exist in a system-independent--insofar as it is possible to be system-independent--archival form. Deciding what that archival form would be and attaining it required much work and thought. For example, all the texts are marked up in SGML, which will be made compatible with the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) when they are issued.

Drawings are postscript files, not meeting international standards, but at least designed to go across platforms. Images, or rather the real archival forms, consist of the best available slides, which are being digitized. Much of the catalog material exists in database form--a form that the average user could use, manipulate, and display on a personal computer, but only at great cost. Thus, this is where the concession comes in: All of this rich, well-marked-up information is stripped of much of its content; the images are converted into bit-maps and the text into small formatted chunks. All this information can then be imported into HyperCard and run on a mid-range Macintosh, which is what Perseus users have. This fact has made it possible for Perseus to attain wide use fairly rapidly. Without those archival forms the HyperCard version being demonstrated could not be made easily, and the project could not have the potential to move to other forms and machines and software as they appear, none of which information is in Perseus on the CD.

Of the numerous multimedia aspects of Perseus, MYLONAS focused on the textual. Part of what makes Perseus such a pleasure to use, MYLONAS said, is this effort at seamless integration and the ability to move around both visual and textual material. Perseus also made the decision not to attempt to interpret its material any more than one interprets by selecting. But, MYLONAS emphasized, Perseus is not courseware: No syllabus exists. There is no effort to define how one teaches a topic using Perseus, although the project may eventually collect papers by people who have used it to teach. Rather, Perseus aims to provide primary material in a kind of electronic library, an electronic sandbox, so to say, in which students and scholars who are working on this material can explore by themselves. With that, MYLONAS demonstrated Perseus, beginning with the Perseus gateway, the first thing one sees upon opening Perseus--an effort in part to solve the contextualizing problem--which tells the user what the system contains.

MYLONAS demonstrated only a very small portion, beginning with primary texts and running off the CD-ROM. Having selected Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, which was viewable in Greek and English pretty much in the same segments together, MYLONAS demonstrated tools to use with the Greek text, something not possible with a book: looking up the dictionary entry form of an unfamiliar word in Greek after subjecting it to Perseus' morphological analysis for all the texts. After finding out about a word, a user may then decide to see if it is used anywhere else in Greek. Because vast amounts of indexing support all of the primary material, one can find out where else all forms of a particular Greek word appear-- often not a trivial matter because Greek is highly inflected. Further, since the story of Prometheus has to do with the origins of sacrifice, a user may wish to study and explore sacrifice in Greek literature; by typing sacrifice into a small window, a user goes to the English-Greek word list--something one cannot do without the computer (Perseus has indexed the definitions of its dictionary)--the string sacrifice appears in the definitions of these sixty-five words. One may then find out where any of those words is used in the work(s) of a particular author. The English definitions are not lemmatized.

All of the indices driving this kind of usage were originally devised for speed, MYLONAS observed; in other words, all that kind of information-- all forms of all words, where they exist, the dictionary form they belong to--were collected into databases, which will expedite searching. Then it was discovered that one can do things searching in these databases that could not be done searching in the full texts. Thus, although there are full-text searches in Perseus, much of the work is done behind the scenes, using prepared indices. Re the indexing that is done behind the scenes, MYLONAS pointed out that without the SGML forms of the text, it could not be done effectively. Much of this indexing is based on the structures that are made explicit by the SGML tagging.

It was found that one of the things many of Perseus' non-Greek-reading users do is start from the dictionary and then move into the close study of words and concepts via this kind of English-Greek word search, by which means they might select a concept. This exercise has been assigned to students in core courses at Harvard--to study a concept by looking for the English word in the dictionary, finding the Greek words, and then finding the words in the Greek but, of course, reading across in the English. That tells them a great deal about what a translation means as well.

Should one also wish to see images that have to do with sacrifice, that person would go to the object key word search, which allows one to perform a similar kind of index retrieval on the database of archaeological objects. Without words, pictures are useless; Perseus has not reached the point where it can do much with images that are not cataloged. Thus, although it is possible in Perseus with text and images to navigate by knowing where one wants to end up--for example, a red-figure vase from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts--one can perform this kind of navigation very easily by tracing down indices. MYLONAS illustrated several generic scenes of sacrifice on vases. The features demonstrated derived from Perseus 1.0; version 2.0 will implement even better means of retrieval.

MYLONAS closed by looking at one of the pictures and noting again that one can do a great deal of research using the iconography as well as the texts. For instance, students in a core course at Harvard this year were highly interested in Greek concepts of foreigners and representations of non-Greeks. So they performed a great deal of research, both with texts (e.g., Herodotus) and with iconography on vases and coins, on how the Greeks portrayed non-Greeks. At the same time, art historians who study iconography were also interested, and were able to use this material.

DISCUSSION

Several points emerged in the discussion that followed MYLONAS's presentation.

Although MYLONAS had not demonstrated Perseus' ability to cross-search documents, she confirmed that all English words in Perseus are indexed and can be searched. So, for example, sacrifice could have been searched in all texts, the historical essay, and all the catalogue entries with their descriptions--in short, in all of Perseus.

Boolean logic is not in Perseus 1.0 but will be added to the next version, although an effort is being made not to restrict Perseus to a database in which one just performs searching, Boolean or otherwise. It is possible to move laterally through the documents by selecting a word one is interested in and selecting an area of information one is interested in and trying to look that word up in that area.

Since Perseus was developed in HyperCard, several levels of customization are possible. Simple authoring tools exist that allow one to create annotated paths through the information, which are useful for note-taking and for guided tours for teaching purposes and for expository writing. With a little more ingenuity it is possible to begin to add or substitute material in Perseus.

Perseus has not been used so much for classics education as for general education, where it seemed to have an impact on the students in the core course at Harvard (a general required course that students must take in certain areas). Students were able to use primary material much more.

The Perseus Project has an evaluation team at the University of Maryland that has been documenting Perseus' effects on education. Perseus is very popular, and anecdotal evidence indicates that it is having an effect at places other than Harvard, for example, test sites at Ball State University, Drury College, and numerous small places where opportunities to use vast amounts of primary data may not exist. One documented effect is that archaeological, anthropological, and philological research is being done by the same person instead of by three different people.

The contextual information in Perseus includes an overview essay, a fairly linear historical essay on the fifth century B.C. that provides links into the primary material (e.g., Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch), via small gray underscoring (on the screen) of linked passages. These are handmade links into other material.

To different extents, most of the production work was done at Harvard, where the people and the equipment are located. Much of the collaborative activity involved data collection and structuring, because the main challenge and the emphasis of Perseus is the gathering of primary material, that is, building a useful environment for studying classical Greece, collecting data, and making it useful. Systems-building is definitely not the main concern. Thus, much of the work has involved writing essays, collecting information, rewriting it, and tagging it. That can be done off site. The creative link for the overview essay as well as for both systems and data was collaborative, and was forged via E-mail and paper mail with professors at Pomona and Bowdoin.


CALALUCA

Eric CALALUCA, vice president, Chadwyck-Healey, Inc., demonstrated a software interpretation of the Patrologia Latina Database (PLD). PLD's principal focus from the beginning of the project about three-and-a-half years ago was on converting Migne's Latin series, and in the end, CALALUCA suggested, conversion of the text will be the major contribution to scholarship. CALALUCA stressed that, as possibly the only private publishing organization at the Workshop, Chadwyck-Healey had sought no federal funds or national foundation support before embarking upon the project, but instead had relied upon a great deal of homework and marketing to accomplish the task of conversion.

Ever since the possibilities of computer-searching have emerged, scholars in the field of late ancient and early medieval studies (philosophers, theologians, classicists, and those studying the history of natural law and the history of the legal development of Western civilization) have been longing for a fully searchable version of Western literature, for example, all the texts of Augustine and Bernard of Clairvaux and Boethius, not to mention all the secondary and tertiary authors.

Various questions arose, CALALUCA said. Should one convert Migne? Should the database be encoded? Is it necessary to do that? How should it be delivered? What about CD-ROM? Since this is a transitional medium, why even bother to create software to run on a CD-ROM? Since everybody knows people will be networking information, why go to the trouble--which is far greater with CD-ROM than with the production of magnetic data? Finally, how does one make the data available? Can many of the hurdles to using electronic information that some publishers have imposed upon databases be eliminated?

The PLD project was based on the principle that computer-searching of texts is most effective when it is done with a large database. Because PLD represented a collection that serves so many disciplines across so many periods, it was irresistible.

The basic rule in converting PLD was to do no harm, to avoid the sins of intrusion in such a database: no introduction of newer editions, no on-the-spot changes, no eradicating of all possible falsehoods from an edition. Thus, PLD is not the final act in electronic publishing for this discipline, but simply the beginning. The conversion of PLD has evoked numerous unanticipated questions: How will information be used? What about networking? Can the rights of a database be protected? Should one protect the rights of a database? How can it be made available?

Those converting PLD also tried to avoid the sins of omission, that is, excluding portions of the collections or whole sections. What about the images? PLD is full of images, some are extremely pious nineteenth-century representations of the Fathers, while others contain highly interesting elements. The goal was to cover all the text of Migne (including notes, in Greek and in Hebrew, the latter of which, in particular, causes problems in creating a search structure), all the indices, and even the images, which are being scanned in separately searchable files.

Several North American institutions that have placed acquisition requests for the PLD database have requested it in magnetic form without software, which means they are already running it without software, without anything demonstrated at the Workshop.

What cannot practically be done is go back and reconvert and re-encode data, a time-consuming and extremely costly enterprise. CALALUCA sees PLD as a database that can, and should, be run under a variety of retrieval softwares. This will permit the widest possible searches. Consequently, the need to produce a CD-ROM of PLD, as well as to develop software that could handle some 1.3 gigabyte of heavily encoded text, developed out of conversations with collection development and reference librarians who wanted software both compassionate enough for the pedestrian but also capable of incorporating the most detailed lexicographical studies that a user desires to conduct. In the end, the encoding and conversion of the data will prove the most enduring testament to the value of the project.

The encoding of the database was also a hard-fought issue: Did the database need to be encoded? Were there normative structures for encoding humanist texts? Should it be SGML? What about the TEI--will it last, will it prove useful? CALALUCA expressed some minor doubts as to whether a data bank can be fully TEI-conformant. Every effort can be made, but in the end to be TEI-conformant means to accept the need to make some firm encoding decisions that can, indeed, be disputed. The TEI points the publisher in a proper direction but does not presume to make all the decisions for him or her. Essentially, the goal of encoding was to eliminate, as much as possible, the hindrances to information-networking, so that if an institution acquires a database, everybody associated with the institution can have access to it.

CALALUCA demonstrated a portion of Volume 160, because it had the most anomalies in it. The software was created by Electronic Book Technologies of Providence, R.I., and is called Dynatext. The software works only with SGML-coded data.

Viewing a table of contents on the screen, the audience saw how Dynatext treats each element as a book and attempts to simplify movement through a volume. Familiarity with the Patrologia in print (i.e., the text, its source, and the editions) will make the machine-readable versions highly useful. (Software with a Windows application was sought for PLD, CALALUCA said, because this was the main trend for scholarly use.)

CALALUCA also demonstrated how a user can perform a variety of searches and quickly move to any part of a volume; the look-up screen provides some basic, simple word-searching.

CALALUCA argued that one of the major difficulties is not the software. Rather, in creating a product that will be used by scholars representing a broad spectrum of computer sophistication, user documentation proves to be the most important service one can provide.

CALALUCA next illustrated a truncated search under mysterium within ten words of virtus and how one would be able to find its contents throughout the entire database. He said that the exciting thing about PLD is that many of the applications in the retrieval software being written for it will exceed the capabilities of the software employed now for the CD-ROM version. The CD-ROM faces genuine limitations, in terms of speed and comprehensiveness, in the creation of a retrieval software to run it. CALALUCA said he hoped that individual scholars will download the data, if they wish, to their personal computers, and have ready access to important texts on a constant basis, which they will be able to use in their research and from which they might even be able to publish.

(CALALUCA explained that the blue numbers represented Migne's column numbers, which are the standard scholarly references. Pulling up a note, he stated that these texts were heavily edited and the image files would appear simply as a note as well, so that one could quickly access an image.)


FLEISCHHAUER/ERWAY

A demonstration of American Memory by its coordinator, Carl FLEISCHHAUER, and Ricky ERWAY, associate coordinator, Library of Congress, concluded the morning session. Beginning with a collection of broadsides from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, the only text collection in a presentable form at the time of the Workshop, FLEISCHHAUER highlighted several of the problems with which AM is still wrestling. (In its final form, the disk will contain two collections, not only the broadsides but also the full text with illustrations of a set of approximately 300 African-American pamphlets from the period 1870 to 1910.)

As FREEMAN had explained earlier, AM has attempted to use a small amount of interpretation to introduce collections. In the present case, the contractor, a company named Quick Source, in Silver Spring, Md., used software called Toolbook and put together a modestly interactive introduction to the collection. Like the two preceding speakers, FLEISCHHAUER argued that the real asset was the underlying collection.

FLEISCHHAUER proceeded to describe various search and retrieval capabilities while ERWAY worked the computer. In this particular package the "go to" pull-down allowed the user in effect to jump out of Toolbook, where the interactive program was located, and enter the third-party software used by AM for this text collection, which is called Personal Librarian. This was the Windows version of Personal Librarian, a software application put together by a company in Rockville, Md.

Since the broadsides came from the Revolutionary War period, a search was conducted using the words British or war, with the default operator reset as or. FLEISCHHAUER demonstrated both automatic stemming (which finds other forms of the same root) and a truncated search. One of Personal Librarian's strongest features, the relevance ranking, was represented by a chart that indicated how often words being sought appeared in documents, with the one receiving the most "hits" obtaining the highest score. The "hit list" that is supplied takes the relevance ranking into account, making the first hit, in effect, the one the software has selected as the most relevant example.

While in the text of one of the broadside documents, FLEISCHHAUER remarked AM's attempt to find ways to connect cataloging to the texts, which it does in different ways in different manifestations. In the case shown, the cataloging was pasted on: AM took MARC records that were written as on-line records right into one of the Library's mainframe retrieval programs, pulled them out, and handed them off to the contractor, who massaged them somewhat to display them in the manner shown. One of AM's questions is, Does the cataloguing normally performed in the mainframe work in this context, or had AM ought to think through adjustments?

FLEISCHHAUER made the additional point that, as far as the text goes, AM has gravitated towards SGML (he pointed to the boldface in the upper part of the screen). Although extremely limited in its ability to translate or interpret SGML, Personal Librarian will furnish both bold and italics on screen; a fairly easy thing to do, but it is one of the ways in which SGML is useful.

Striking a balance between quantity and quality has been a major concern of AM, with accuracy being one of the places where project staff have felt that less than 100-percent accuracy was not unacceptable. FLEISCHHAUER cited the example of the standard of the rekeying industry, namely 99.95 percent; as one service bureau informed him, to go from 99.95 to 100 percent would double the cost.

FLEISCHHAUER next demonstrated how AM furnishes users recourse to images, and at the same time recalled LESK's pointed question concerning the number of people who would look at those images and the number who would work only with the text. If the implication of LESK's question was sound, FLEISCHHAUER said, it raised the stakes for text accuracy and reduced the value of the strategy for images.

Contending that preservation is always a bugaboo, FLEISCHHAUER demonstrated several images derived from a scan of a preservation microfilm that AM had made. He awarded a grade of C at best, perhaps a C minus or a C plus, for how well it worked out. Indeed, the matter of learning if other people had better ideas about scanning in general, and, in particular, scanning from microfilm, was one of the factors that drove AM to attempt to think through the agenda for the Workshop. Skew, for example, was one of the issues that AM in its ignorance had not reckoned would prove so difficult.

Further, the handling of images of the sort shown, in a desktop computer environment, involved a considerable amount of zooming and scrolling. Ultimately, AM staff feel that perhaps the paper copy that is printed out might be the most useful one, but they remain uncertain as to how much on-screen reading users will do.

Returning to the text, FLEISCHHAUER asked viewers to imagine a person who might be conducting a search in a full-text environment. With this scenario, he proceeded to illustrate other features of Personal Librarian that he considered helpful; for example, it provides the ability to notice words as one reads. Clicking the "include" button on the bottom of the search window pops the words that have been highlighted into the search. Thus, a user can refine the search as he or she reads, re-executing the search and continuing to find things in the quest for materials. This software not only contains relevance ranking, Boolean operators, and truncation, it also permits one to perform word algebra, so to say, where one puts two or three words in parentheses and links them with one Boolean operator and then a couple of words in another set of parentheses and asks for things within so many words of others.

Until they became acquainted recently with some of the work being done in classics, the AM staff had not realized that a large number of the projects that involve electronic texts were being done by people with a profound interest in language and linguistics. Their search strategies and thinking are oriented to those fields, as is shown in particular by the Perseus example. As amateur historians, the AM staff were thinking more of searching for concepts and ideas than for particular words. Obviously, FLEISCHHAUER conceded, searching for concepts and ideas and searching for words may be two rather closely related things.

While displaying several images, FLEISCHHAUER observed that the Macintosh prototype built by AM contains a greater diversity of formats. Echoing a previous speaker, he said that it was easier to stitch things together in the Macintosh, though it tended to be a little more anemic in search and retrieval. AM, therefore, increasingly has been investigating sophisticated retrieval engines in the IBM format.

FLEISCHHAUER demonstrated several additional examples of the prototype interfaces: One was AM's metaphor for the network future, in which a kind of reading-room graphic suggests how one would be able to go around to different materials. AM contains a large number of photographs in analog video form worked up from a videodisc, which enable users to make copies to print or incorporate in digital documents. A frame-grabber is built into the system, making it possible to bring an image into a window and digitize or print it out.

FLEISCHHAUER next demonstrated sound recording, which included texts. Recycled from a previous project, the collection included sixty 78-rpm phonograph records of political speeches that were made during and immediately after World War I. These constituted approximately three hours of audio, as AM has digitized it, which occupy 150 megabytes on a CD. Thus, they are considerably compressed. From the catalogue card, FLEISCHHAUER proceeded to a transcript of a speech with the audio available and with highlighted text following it as it played. A photograph has been added and a transcription made.

Considerable value has been added beyond what the Library of Congress normally would do in cataloguing a sound recording, which raises several questions for AM concerning where to draw lines about how much value it can afford to add and at what point, perhaps, this becomes more than AM could reasonably do or reasonably wish to do. FLEISCHHAUER also demonstrated a motion picture. As FREEMAN had reported earlier, the motion picture materials have proved the most popular, not surprisingly. This says more about the medium, he thought, than about AM's presentation of it.

Because AM's goal was to bring together things that could be used by historians or by people who were curious about history, turn-of-the-century footage seemed to represent the most appropriate collections from the Library of Congress in motion pictures. These were the very first films made by Thomas Edison's company and some others at that time. The particular example illustrated was a Biograph film, brought in with a frame-grabber into a window. A single videodisc contains about fifty titles and pieces of film from that period, all of New York City. Taken together, AM believes, they provide an interesting documentary resource.

DISCUSSION

During the question-and-answer period that followed FLEISCHHAUER's presentation, several clarifications were made.

AM is bringing in motion pictures from a videodisc. The frame-grabber devices create a window on a computer screen, which permits users to digitize a single frame of the movie or one of the photographs. It produces a crude, rough-and-ready image that high school students can incorporate into papers, and that has worked very nicely in this way.

Commenting on FLEISCHHAUER's assertion that AM was looking more at searching ideas than words, MYLONAS argued that without words an idea does not exist. FLEISCHHAUER conceded that he ought to have articulated his point more clearly. MYLONAS stated that they were in fact both talking about the same thing. By searching for words and by forcing people to focus on the word, the Perseus Project felt that they would get them to the idea. The way one reviews results is tailored more to one kind of user than another.

Concerning the total volume of material that has been processed in this way, AM at this point has in retrievable form seven or eight collections, all of them photographic. In the Macintosh environment, for example, there probably are 35,000-40,000 photographs. The sound recordings number sixty items. The broadsides number about 300 items. There are 500 political cartoons in the form of drawings. The motion pictures, as individual items, number sixty to seventy.

AM also has a manuscript collection, the life history portion of one of the federal project series, which will contain 2,900 individual documents, all first-person narratives. AM has in process about 350 African-American pamphlets, or about 12,000 printed pages for the period 1870-1910. Also in the works are some 4,000 panoramic photographs. AM has recycled a fair amount of the work done by LC's Prints and Photographs Division during the Library's optical disk pilot project in the 1980s. For example, a special division of LC has tooled up and thought through all the ramifications of electronic presentation of photographs. Indeed, they are wheeling them out in great barrel loads. The purpose of AM within the Library, it is hoped, is to catalyze several of the other special collection divisions which have no particular experience with, in some cases, mixed feelings about, an activity such as AM. Moreover, in many cases the divisions may be characterized as not only lacking experience in "electronifying" things but also in automated cataloguing. MARC cataloguing as practiced in the United States is heavily weighted toward the description of monograph and serial materials, but is much thinner when one enters the world of manuscripts and things that are held in the Library's music collection and other units. In response to a comment by LESK, that AM's material is very heavily photographic, and is so primarily because individual records have been made for each photograph, FLEISCHHAUER observed that an item-level catalog record exists, for example, for each photograph in the Detroit Publishing collection of 25,000 pictures. In the case of the Federal Writers Project, for which nearly 3,000 documents exist, representing information from twenty-six different states, AM with the assistance of Karen STUART of the Manuscript Division will attempt to find some way not only to have a collection-level record but perhaps a MARC record for each state, which will then serve as an umbrella for the 100-200 documents that come under it. But that drama remains to be enacted. The AM staff is conservative and clings to cataloguing, though of course visitors tout artificial intelligence and neural networks in a manner that suggests that perhaps one need not have cataloguing or that much of it could be put aside.

The matter of SGML coding, FLEISCHHAUER conceded, returned the discussion to the earlier treated question of quality versus quantity in the Library of Congress. Of course, text conversion can be done with 100-percent accuracy, but it means that when one's holdings are as vast as LC's only a tiny amount will be exposed, whereas permitting lower levels of accuracy can lead to exposing or sharing larger amounts, but with the quality correspondingly impaired.


TWOHIG

Finding encouragement in a comment of MICHELSON's from the morning session--that numerous people in the humanities were choosing electronic options to do their work--Dorothy TWOHIG, editor, The Papers of George Washington, opened her illustrated talk by noting that her experience with literary scholars and numerous people in editing was contrary to MICHELSON's. TWOHIG emphasized literary scholars' complete ignorance of the technological options available to them or their reluctance or, in some cases, their downright hostility toward these options.

After providing an overview of the five Founding Fathers projects (Jefferson at Princeton, Franklin at Yale, John Adams at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Madison down the hall from her at the University of Virginia), TWOHIG observed that the Washington papers, like all of the projects, include both sides of the Washington correspondence and deal with some 135,000 documents to be published with extensive annotation in eighty to eighty-five volumes, a project that will not be completed until well into the next century. Thus, it was with considerable enthusiasm several years ago that the Washington Papers Project (WPP) greeted David Packard's suggestion that the papers of the Founding Fathers could be published easily and inexpensively, and to the great benefit of American scholarship, via CD-ROM.

In pragmatic terms, funding from the Packard Foundation would expedite the transcription of thousands of documents waiting to be put on disk in the WPP offices. Further, since the costs of collecting, editing, and converting the Founding Fathers documents into letterpress editions were running into the millions of dollars, and the considerable staffs involved in all of these projects were devoting their careers to producing the work, the Packard Foundation's suggestion had a revolutionary aspect: Transcriptions of the entire corpus of the Founding Fathers papers would be available on CD-ROM to public and college libraries, even high schools, at a fraction of the cost-- $100-$150 for the annual license fee--to produce a limited university press run of 1,000 of each volume of the published papers at $45-$150 per printed volume. Given the current budget crunch in educational systems and the corresponding constraints on librarians in smaller institutions who wish to add these volumes to their collections, producing the documents on CD-ROM would likely open a greatly expanded audience for the papers. TWOHIG stressed, however, that development of the Founding Fathers CD-ROM is still in its infancy. Serious software problems remain to be resolved before the material can be put into readable form.

Funding from the Packard Foundation resulted in a major push to transcribe the 75,000 or so documents of the Washington papers remaining to be transcribed onto computer disks. Slides illustrated several of the problems encountered, for example, the present inability of CD-ROM to indicate the cross-outs (deleted material) in eighteenth century documents. TWOHIG next described documents from various periods in the eighteenth century that have been transcribed in chronological order and delivered to the Packard offices in California, where they are converted to the CD-ROM, a process that is expected to consume five years to complete (that is, reckoning from David Packard's suggestion made several years ago, until about July 1994). TWOHIG found an encouraging indication of the project's benefits in the ongoing use made by scholars of the search functions of the CD-ROM, particularly in reducing the time spent in manually turning the pages of the Washington papers.

TWOHIG next furnished details concerning the accuracy of transcriptions. For instance, the insertion of thousands of documents on the CD-ROM currently does not permit each document to be verified against the original manuscript several times as in the case of documents that appear in the published edition. However, the transcriptions receive a cursory check for obvious typos, the misspellings of proper names, and other errors from the WPP CD-ROM editor. Eventually, all documents that appear in the electronic version will be checked by project editors. Although this process has met with opposition from some of the editors on the grounds that imperfect work may leave their offices, the advantages in making this material available as a research tool outweigh fears about the misspelling of proper names and other relatively minor editorial matters.

Completion of all five Founding Fathers projects (i.e., retrievability and searchability of all of the documents by proper names, alternate spellings, or varieties of subjects) will provide one of the richest sources of this size for the history of the United States in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Further, publication on CD-ROM will allow editors to include even minutiae, such as laundry lists, not included in the printed volumes.

It seems possible that the extensive annotation provided in the printed volumes eventually will be added to the CD-ROM edition, pending negotiations with the publishers of the papers. At the moment, the Founding Fathers CD-ROM is accessible only on the IBYCUS, a computer developed out of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae project and designed for the use of classical scholars. There are perhaps 400 IBYCUS computers in the country, most of which are in university classics departments. Ultimately, it is anticipated that the CD-ROM edition of the Founding Fathers documents will run on any IBM-compatible or Macintosh computer with a CD-ROM drive. Numerous changes in the software will also occur before the project is completed. (Editor's note: an IBYCUS was unavailable to demonstrate the CD-ROM.)

DISCUSSION

Discussion following TWOHIG's presentation served to clarify several additional features, including (1) that the project's primary intellectual product consists in the electronic transcription of the material; (2) that the text transmitted to the CD-ROM people is not marked up; (3) that cataloging and subject-indexing of the material remain to be worked out (though at this point material can be retrieved by name); and (4) that because all the searching is done in the hardware, the IBYCUS is designed to read a CD-ROM which contains only sequential text files. Technically, it then becomes very easy to read the material off and put it on another device.


LEBRON

Maria LEBRON, managing editor, The Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials (OJCCT), presented an illustrated overview of the history of the joint project between the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC). The joint venture between AAAS and OCLC owes its beginning to a reorganization launched by the new chief executive officer at OCLC about three years ago and combines the strengths of these two disparate organizations. In short, OJCCT represents the process of scholarly publishing on line.

LEBRON next discussed several practices the on-line environment shares with traditional publishing on hard copy--for example, peer review of manuscripts--that are highly important in the academic world. LEBRON noted in particular the implications of citation counts for tenure committees and grants committees. In the traditional hard-copy environment, citation counts are readily demonstrable, whereas the on-line environment represents an ethereal medium to most academics.

LEBRON remarked several technical and behavioral barriers to electronic publishing, for instance, the problems in transmission created by special characters or by complex graphics and halftones. In addition, she noted economic limitations such as the storage costs of maintaining back issues and market or audience education.

Manuscripts cannot be uploaded to OJCCT, LEBRON explained, because it is not a bulletin board or E-mail, forms of electronic transmission of information that have created an ambience clouding people's understanding of what the journal is attempting to do. OJCCT, which publishes peer-reviewed medical articles dealing with the subject of clinical trials, includes text, tabular material, and graphics, although at this time it can transmit only line illustrations.

Next, LEBRON described how AAAS and OCLC arrived at the subject of clinical trials: It is 1) a highly statistical discipline that 2) does not require halftones but can satisfy the needs of its audience with line illustrations and graphic material, and 3) there is a need for the speedy dissemination of high-quality research results. Clinical trials are research activities that involve the administration of a test treatment to some experimental unit in order to test its usefulness before it is made available to the general population. LEBRON proceeded to give additional information on OJCCT concerning its editor-in-chief, editorial board, editorial content, and the types of articles it publishes (including peer-reviewed research reports and reviews), as well as features shared by other traditional hard-copy journals.

Among the advantages of the electronic format are faster dissemination of information, including raw data, and the absence of space constraints because pages do not exist. (This latter fact creates an interesting situation when it comes to citations.) Nor are there any issues. AAAS's capacity to download materials directly from the journal to a subscriber's printer, hard drive, or floppy disk helps ensure highly accurate transcription. Other features of OJCCT include on-screen alerts that allow linkage of subsequently published documents to the original documents; on-line searching by subject, author, title, etc.; indexing of every single word that appears in an article; viewing access to an article by component (abstract, full text, or graphs); numbered paragraphs to replace page counts; publication in Science every thirty days of indexing of all articles published in the journal; typeset-quality screens; and Hypertext links that enable subscribers to bring up Medline abstracts directly without leaving the journal.

After detailing the two primary ways to gain access to the journal, through the OCLC network and Compuserv if one desires graphics or through the Internet if just an ASCII file is desired, LEBRON illustrated the speedy editorial process and the coding of the document using SGML tags after it has been accepted for publication. She also gave an illustrated tour of the journal, its search-and-retrieval capabilities in particular, but also including problems associated with scanning in illustrations, and the importance of on-screen alerts to the medical profession re retractions or corrections, or more frequently, editorials, letters to the editors, or follow-up reports. She closed by inviting the audience to join AAAS on 1 July, when OJCCT was scheduled to go on-line.

DISCUSSION

In the lengthy discussion that followed LEBRON's presentation, these points emerged:

PERSONIUS

Lynne PERSONIUS, assistant director, Cornell Information Technologies for Scholarly Information Services, Cornell University, first commented on the tremendous impact that developments in technology over the past ten years--networking, in particular--have had on the way information is handled, and how, in her own case, these developments have counterbalanced Cornell's relative geographical isolation. Other significant technologies include scanners, which are much more sophisticated than they were ten years ago; mass storage and the dramatic savings that result from it in terms of both space and money relative to twenty or thirty years ago; new and improved printing technologies, which have greatly affected the distribution of information; and, of course, digital technologies, whose applicability to library preservation remains at issue.

Given that context, PERSONIUS described the College Library Access and Storage System (CLASS) Project, a library preservation project, primarily, and what has been accomplished. Directly funded by the Commission on Preservation and Access and by the Xerox Corporation, which has provided a significant amount of hardware, the CLASS Project has been working with a development team at Xerox to develop a software application tailored to library preservation requirements. Within Cornell, participants in the project have been working jointly with both library and information technologies. The focus of the project has been on reformatting and saving books that are in brittle condition. PERSONIUS showed Workshop participants a brittle book, and described how such books were the result of developments in papermaking around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The papermaking process was changed so that a significant amount of acid was introduced into the actual paper itself, which deteriorates as it sits on library shelves.

One of the advantages for technology and for the CLASS Project is that the information in brittle books is mostly out of copyright and thus offers an opportunity to work with material that requires library preservation, and to create and work on an infrastructure to save the material. Acknowledging the familiarity of those working in preservation with this information, PERSONIUS noted that several things are being done: the primary preservation technology used today is photocopying of brittle material. Saving the intellectual content of the material is the main goal. With microfilm copy, the intellectual content is preserved on the assumption that in the future the image can be reformatted in any other way that then exists.

An underlying assumption of the CLASS Project from the beginning was that it would develop a network application. Project staff scan books at a workstation located in the library, near the brittle material. An image-server filing system is located at a distance from that workstation, and a printer is located in another building. All of the materials digitized and stored on the image-filing system are cataloged in the on-line catalogue. In fact, a record for each of these electronic books is stored in the RLIN database so that a record exists of what is in the digital library throughout standard catalogue procedures. In the future, researchers working from their own workstations in their offices, or their networks, will have access--wherever they might be--through a request server being built into the new digital library. A second assumption is that the preferred means of finding the material will be by looking through a catalogue. PERSONIUS described the scanning process, which uses a prototype scanner being developed by Xerox and which scans a very high resolution image at great speed. Another significant feature, because this is a preservation application, is the placing of the pages that fall apart one for one on the platen. Ordinarily, a scanner could be used with some sort of a document feeder, but because of this application that is not feasible. Further, because CLASS is a preservation application, after the paper replacement is made there, a very careful quality control check is performed. An original book is compared to the printed copy and verification is made, before proceeding, that all of the image, all of the information, has been captured. Then, a new library book is produced: The printed images are rebound by a commercial binder and a new book is returned to the shelf. Significantly, the books returned to the library shelves are beautiful and useful replacements on acid-free paper that should last a long time, in effect, the equivalent of preservation photocopies. Thus, the project has a library of digital books. In essence, CLASS is scanning and storing books as 600 dot-per-inch bit-mapped images, compressed using Group 4 CCITT (i.e., the French acronym for International Consultative Committee for Telegraph and Telephone) compression. They are stored as TIFF files on an optical filing system that is composed of a database used for searching and locating the books and an optical jukebox that stores 64 twelve-inch platters. A very-high-resolution printed copy of these books at 600 dots per inch is created, using a Xerox DocuTech printer to make the paper replacements on acid-free paper.

PERSONIUS maintained that the CLASS Project presents an opportunity to introduce people to books as digital images by using a paper medium. Books are returned to the shelves while people are also given the ability to print on demand--to make their own copies of books. (PERSONIUS distributed copies of an engineering journal published by engineering students at Cornell around 1900 as an example of what a print-on-demand copy of material might be like. This very cheap copy would be available to people to use for their own research purposes and would bridge the gap between an electronic work and the paper that readers like to have.) PERSONIUS then attempted to illustrate a very early prototype of networked access to this digital library. Xerox Corporation has developed a prototype of a view station that can send images across the network to be viewed.

The particular library brought down for demonstration contained two mathematics books. CLASS is developing and will spend the next year developing an application that allows people at workstations to browse the books. Thus, CLASS is developing a browsing tool, on the assumption that users do not want to read an entire book from a workstation, but would prefer to be able to look through and decide if they would like to have a printed copy of it.

DISCUSSION

During the question-and-answer period that followed her presentation, PERSONIUS made these additional points:

[previous] [Table of Contents] [Next]

[Search all CoOL documents]


URL: http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/lc/etextw/sess2.html
Timestamp: Thursday, 04-Nov-2010 14:30:41 PDT
Retrieved: Tuesday, 21-Nov-2017 10:18:46 GMT