Thoreau Quarterly

Description: 

Thoreau Quarterly

Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 04:07:53 GMT
From: owner-newjour@ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Subject: Thoreau Quarterly

Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 06:17:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Austin Meredith <rchow@benfranklin.hnet.uci.edu>
Subject: Thoreau Quarterly

[N.B. While this is not an Internet title, we thought it important
and exciting and worthy of your attention. The Moderators]

The first hypertexted, cumulative quarterly scholarly journal has
already been created, THE THOREAU QUARTERLY, and is in its sixth year of
publication.

This quarterly is distributed on Sony 256-Meg magneto-optical disks,
gratis at present, to Thoreau scholars who request it and are prepared
to contribute new materials to it. The cumulative materials have grown
until they now encompass some 250 Megs of text alone, not counting
reverse indexes, pictures, or sounds. The hypertextspace now contains
in excess of an estimated 20 million hypertext links, each carefully
placed by hand with thoughtfulness.

By the use of such technology, it has been possible to make startling
new discoveries in literary history. For instance, A WEEK ON THE
CONCORD AND MERRIMACK RIVERS was not Henry David Thoreau's first
book-length publication, for prior to its issuance he had
"ghost-written" a very well-received escape narrative in collaboration
with a fugitive slave, for which, for reasons of anti-slavery politics,
it was not possible for him to take credit.

It would really be rather difficult to characterize this electronic
quarterly in a brief space, since nothing even remotely like it has ever
existed before. Those interested in electronic versions of scholarly
journals would of course be expected to think in terms of some analog to
present-day journals, to which authors submit articles which are merely
published electronically rather than on paper. That is not much of a
conceptual leap, but this is nothing like that, as what are submitted to
this electronic journal are not articles but links and nodes identified
by contributor. Present-day paper journals are iterative in that in
each new issue only new materials are presented, but this sort of
electronic journal is not iterative, it is cumulative. Each new issue
of the database, which we refer to as a "hypertextspace," is cumulative
and includes all materials previously issued as well as pointers to the
new materials. Thus each author has continuing responsibility to
maintain and update and correct each of their prior submissions.

Each reissue of the journal, quarterly, constitutes a full working
environment complete with the software required to work in that
environment. Thus, by evaluating and enhancing the base materials
present in the hypertextspace, such as the eight versions of WALDEN
which are captured, the scholarly subscribers to the journal may
effectively work together as a research team.

You are cautioned that, with something this strange and new, there is
absolutely no possibility that you will understand anything about this
-- unless and until you have obtained hands-on experience in the
hypertextspace. This is nothing like anything you know or could
imagine.

To obtain such experience, you can contact me at r2chow@uci.edu.

Austin Meredith, "Stack of the Artist of Kouroo" Project

Original posting date: 
Saturday, July 29, 1995
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