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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Using TACT with Electronic Texts", Ian Lancashire

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKUTACTE.RVW 990613 Using TACT with Electronic Texts , Ian Lancashire, 1996, 0-87352-569-8, U$50.00 %A Ian Lancashire %C 10 Astor Place, New York, NY
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 1999
      BKUTACTE.RVW 990613

      "Using TACT with Electronic Texts", Ian Lancashire, 1996,
      0-87352-569-8, U$50.00
      %A Ian Lancashire
      %C 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003-6981
      %D 1996
      %G 0-87352-569-8
      %I The Modern Language Association of America
      %O U$50.00 fax: 212-477-9863 permissions@...
      %P 361 p. + CD-ROM
      %T "Using TACT with Electronic Texts"

      TACT (Text-Analysis Computing Tools) is a suite of programs used to
      produce data about literature for criticism and interpretation in
      humanities studies. This book is a manual for the programs, which
      were developed by the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at the
      University of Toronto, and appear to be distributed as freeware. The
      tools are based on the activity of concordancing, or finding all
      occurrences of a term in a given piece of text. The standard UNIX
      tools of grep, sed, and awk will do the same thing. How TACT differs
      is very difficult to say. The manual is not very forthcoming, seeming
      to imply, by its lack of explanation, that if you don't know what the
      tools do, you don't deserve to know. Computer specific terms are
      described and explained, but those to do with literature or technical
      criticism are defined, if at all, in a circular and tautological
      manner.

      Chapter one outlines the different programs and what part of the
      process they perform, but since the outcome isn't illustrated this
      material is less than helpful to the newcomer. The largest, and most
      important, part of chapter two deals with the insertion of tags into a
      text, but this section is incomplete, and no reference seems to exist
      for the full set of tags that can be used. The operation of Makebase
      and Mergebas, used to create text databases in the proper format, is
      described in chapter three. The interactive analysis tool, Usebase,
      is outlined in chapters four through seven. Chapter eight reviews the
      batch analysis programs. Preprocessing programs are explained in
      chapter nine, and postprocessing in chapter ten. Chapter eleven
      probably should have started the book, since it finally attempts to
      talk about what TACT actually does, and even gives examples of use for
      the UNIX tools mentioned earlier. However, the material relies too
      heavily on large works that have been accomplished by computerized
      methods, without suggesting smaller questions and how they might be
      approached. A reference to the suite, explanation of the texts
      included on the CD-ROM, and some other appendices are included.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKUTACTE.RVW 990613

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      Review index: http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/review.htm
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade

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