In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Library at Apple Computer provided small grants for software and equipment under its "Library of Tomorrow" program ("ALoT"). The Apple Library no longer exists, alas, at least not in the form it once had; it fell victim to corporate cost-cutting and reorganization. Librarians Steve Cisler and Monica Ertel were central to ALoT. They and their colleagues deserve credit for the results: thousands of free software packages, information collections, and enhanced services which have been a boon to library users everywhere.

I helped ALoT in a tiny way by working in my spare time on a couple of projects, the results of which are available from online archives:

  • = "Shakespeare Stacks" — for Macintosh HyperCard users only (not PC-readable!), the entire works of William Shakespeare, arranged and annotated as hypertext. I reformatted and proofread public-domain editions of the Immortal Bard, fixing countless typographical errors along the way. (The funniest: Helena in Midsummer Night's Dream II,i, was given the lines "Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex: / We cannot fight for love, as men may do; / We should be wood and were not made to woo." — where of course the word "wood" was a garble for "woo'd"!). The slow and careful reading of Shakespeare that went into this project has aided my prose immensely (believe it or not, I have seen some slight improvement ... or so I flatter myself). And the Shakespeare Stack Project's plays and poetry have been downloaded by thousands of scholars, students, and actors.
  • = "Free Text" = "FreeText" — software written in C for UNIX, Mac, or PC, to enable real-time high-bandwidth large-scale free-text information retrieval on personal collections of unstructured information. The programs (generic source code and 32-bit DOS binary executables) build inverted index files and offer a plain-vanilla command-line interface to browse and retrieve information from those files. (Hypercard & GNU Emacs graphical user interfaces exist for Free Text, but I cannot find copies — if anyone has them still, please let me know.) See the essay = "Free Text Information Retrieval Philosophy" for thoughts on key attributes of free-text IR interfaces which the Free Text programs implement. Thousands of people have used Free Text for linguistic research, indexing books and CD-ROMs, searching literary archives, and other applications.

Thanks ALoT, for encouraging these and other information sharing projects!

Saturday, November 27, 1999 at 18:43:08 (EST) = 1999-11-27

TopicPersonalHistory - TopicLibraries - TopicProgramming

(correlates: SteveCisler, MarkZimmermann, FreeTextDesiderata, ...)