Re: Things to do with text

From: David Starner (
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 20:48:23 CST

  • Next message: David Starner: "Re: Things to do with text"

    On Nov 11, 2007 3:17 PM, John Hudson <> wrote:
    > Some
    > of these things are obvious in a general sense (spelling and grammar checking, sorting,
    > comparing), but I'd like to come up with some specific and interesting examples --
    > particularly of a scholarly nature --, and also would like know of any other things that
    > people 'do with text' beyond displaying it. I suspect that there are things I have not
    > even imagined within my narrow focus.

    The obvious things for scholars involve the analysis of large bodies
    of text. Where before concordances had to be made of specific
    materials, computerized text allows the creation of concordances of
    arbitrary material on the fly. This allows everything from helping
    build dictionaries for spell-checkers and rules for grammar checkers,
    to analysis of word-choice throughout the centuries, to indepth
    analysis of one author's writings. (I recall reading that a computer
    analysis was used to prove that the Old Man and the Sea was written
    years before Hemingway published it. I'm not sure that's an
    established interpretation, though.)

    Taking making text visible literally, computerized text makes it
    trivial to make a sound recording of a book, generally for the blind.

    Another major reason for computerized text is that copies can be made
    and distributed quickly and cheaply. Project Gutenberg (and, yes, that
    is my pet project) can afford to mail out ten thousand books for free,
    because it costs less to create and send a DVD with all those books on
    it then it would to create even one book. A more important example is
    that this message is going to hundreds of people, for a price that's
    negligible on a per-copy basis, in a matter of hours, whereas an
    old-school journal would take weeks or months to mail your question
    out, and another few weeks or months to collect the answers.

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