In the last issue of the CSA Newsletter, there was a lengthy article about the problems of moving from current character-encoding schemes (ASCII and the various versions of ISO 8859) to Unicode (http://csanet.org/newsletter/winter02/nlw0202.html, Susan C. Jones, "The Way Your Computer Handles Text is Changing,"Vol. XIV, No. 3, Winter, 2002). Problems await with text and with file names, since each ISO standard (there are 14 different ones for different scripts), each of the various versions of ASCII code, and each of the non-standard fonts used to substitute for character sets (for text only, not file names) will require a different translation routine.
That same point was made at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) meetings in Crete by Mr. Eiteljorg and Mr. Kanellopoulos (in their paper about the CSA Propylaea Project), and one of the organizers of the conference, Dr. Martin Doerr (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Institute of Computer Science at the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH - http://www.ics.forth.gr/), pointed out that he and his colleagues have already developed translators for changing text in the various ISO standards to Unicode, and they also have routines to take text from Unicode to any of the ISO standards. Such translators will work on file content, but file names remain a problem. In fact, when the file-name problems were mentioned, many in the audience were very surprised. File content problems had been considered, but not problems with file names.
The CSA Propylaea Project has been using Latin alphabet characters for its file names (and layer names), but it recently became a true policy decision, rather than an ad hoc choice. The reason is a simple, practical one: the Latin characters have the same numeric designations in lower ASCII and the ISO standards that they do in Unicode. That should remove any problems that might arise if and when those file names are translated into Unicode. It is a policy, therefore, that is to be recommended to others.
For other Newsletter articles concerning the Propylaea Project, the use of electronic media in the humanities, or issues surrounding digital archiving, consult the Subject index.
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Table of Contents for the Spring, 2002 issue of the CSA Newsletter (Vol. XV, no. 1)
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