Qualitative software

Robert Thornton (031RTHOR@MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA)
Tue, 30 Jan 1996 02:12:04 -0500

there are a number of more recent packages that are more useful.

I have not used ETHNOGRAPH software, nor do I know anything about
it, but I am using a couple of packages that I think are extremely
useful, and should be considered by list members. Unfortunately, I
do not have all of the info here and will send it to the list later.
The packages are NUD.IST, INSPIRATION, and ASKSAM. NUD.IST is an
acronym for 'non-numerical unstructured data: indexing, sorting,
theorising'. (I suspect the author thought up the name first and
then invented the rather doubtful acronymic reference, but be that
as it may ...). This package was developed at the University fo
Queensland (?) if memory serves, by a sociologist (Lynn Richards)
and her computerist husband. It runs under Windows only and requires
from 8-16 Mb of memory, so it will not be available to people still
running MSDOS or with lower- powered computers. It is based on a
'tree-structured' set of categories. It is able to code, sort and
search large amounts of text is endlessly creative ways, and can
handle both on-line and off-line documents (e.g. pictures, video
tapes, newsclippings) and produce a huge variety of stats and
non-statistical reports on the data. I will post the address for
info. tomorrow. It is excellent, flexible and powerful. ASKSAM is a
database system for text. There are other similar systems such as
FolioViews, which I have not used, but seem similar. A colleague in
CAnada, Normal Buchignani, whom I have had contact with over email
(only) has used FolioViews, for instance, to archive and then
search an exhaustive database fo text from travellers and officials
in southern Africa from 1650s to 1850s on the 'Hottentots' (Khoe)
and Bushmen in the region. He is able to produce statistical
measures of the number of times that certain observations are made
(e.g. that the natives are 'lazy') and was able to show that this
varied historically, and could be correlated with a number of other
concerns and historical events. I don't know if he has published
this yet, but it is stunning and creative stuff. I use ASKSAM to
file news items on current SA events for my own projects. It does
nto do the same thing as NUD.IST, but for filing and general
searching and keeping-track, it is very good. Again, it is a windows
programme, and requires lots of HDD space. Finally, INSPIRATION is
an interesting package. It permits computer generated 'mind-maps'. I
have used it once for some organisation of thoughts on modernism and
anthropology, and found it useful. I will use it again and it is
worth looking at.
More later...

===========Robert Thornton, Department of Social Anthropology======
University of the Witwatersrand, PO Wits, 2050 Johannesburg
South Africa
Office tel. : (011) 716-2900
Secretary, fax and answering machine: (011) 716-2766
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