‘Gulliver’s Virtual Travels’: A Review of the Browser’s Delight:
PEP CD-ROM Archive 1 Version 3
Robert L. Tyson
International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 83(2), 543-546
I begin with the conclusion: the PEP CD ROM is a magnificent tool for anyone interested in learning who has published what, when and where in the journals of the psychoanalytic literature from 1920 to 1998. With this tool, one may also annotate, print out various sorts of selections, leave bookmarks and perform a variety of other tasks. The PEP CD ROM is here to stay, unlike earlier efforts at indexing the psychoanalytic literature, and its use has become progressively easier with each of the three iterations or versions, with updates to come. The user needs to accommodate to the demands of a software program (Folio Views) that is rather more complex and different from the usual word processing and email programs, but it can richly repay the explorer’s efforts in accessing the PEP database, particularly with the aid of the improved help facilities that are provided. The price seems expensive at first, but may be a bargain when compared with the increasing costs of journal subscriptions and the considerable effort it would take to gain access to the scope of the psychoanalytic literature provided by this product just once, let alone whenever one wishes. The PEP CD ROM Archive 1 Version 3 is a central and essential part of every psychoanalyst’ s library, of which it may actually constitute the core.
Now to begin this review, based on experience with the Windows version, the Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (PEP) company’s advertising over the past few years has made its product familiar to many psychoanalysts. In journals, on the internet and in demonstrations at conferences around the world, it is promoted as ‘ The perfect research tool!’ That may indeed be so, but I imagine that, for many psychoanalysts, a more apt description would be ‘ The Browser’s Delight’ . It is, in fact, the electronic recreation of the stacks of a library devoted to psychoanalysis. In these virtual stacks, the user may zero in on a particular bibliographic target and then allow curiosity freedom to digress agreeably into adjacent areas, limited only by time and by one’s associative powers and available skills to use the instrumental software. Those skills come with application in the same way that riding a bicycle or driving a car becomes second nature to most of us. It takes a little practice and use. I will focus on my experience of the initial contacts with PEP CD ROM, Version 3.
Getting to know the PEP CD ROM in its third incarnation is something of an adventure. I’ve approached it in the spirit of Lemuel Gulliver drafting another chapter to add to his ‘ Travels’ . The Land of the PEP CD ROM (PCDR) has some similarities and differences to others of Gulliver’s adventures. I include among the similarities the voyage into the unknown, or relatively unknown, with strange customs and rules, and strange punishments for disobedience. For example, some readers will recognise the virtual punishment of GIGO-Garbage In, Garbage Out; in other words, if you make an error in what you ask the program to do, you may get some response but not at all what you were expecting.
The differences from Gulliver’s experiences include my having some significant foreknowledge about the forthcoming exploration-about how to use a computer and about the psychoanalytic periodic literature. Heretofore the mechanics of seeking, finding and reading portions of it in print for most interested analysts have reached the level of preconscious automaticity. The technicalities of looking for an obscure item of interest requires some ingenuity, a very good memory and a lot of intuition, professional assistance, or a preformatted guide such as Mosher’s Title Key Word and Author Index, the Chicago Index, the Grinstein Index or the Hartmann Index-each of which has served in its time. The PEP CD ROM opens the door to an immensely powerful and complex tool that is light years beyond anything previously available to psychoanalysts. I am convinced that the effort it takes to get started is more than worthwhile.
The two discs in Version 3 come with instructions for installing the entire program and database on the computer, given enough free disc space-a minimum of 20 megabytes is required. One is given a choice of a ‘ Compact Install’ or a ‘ Full Install’ . The former requires the minimum 20 megabytes and requires the use of the second disc in the CD drive in order to access the database. Choosing the Full Install will occupy 694 megabytes-at least, that is the space it takes up in my system. The neophyte needs only to make sure that the available equipment comports with the requirements listed on the folder containing the CDs. Because the cost of hard disc space has fallen dramatically in the past couple of years, replacing a small disc with a much larger one will pay dividends in many ways. I recently upgraded to a 73 gigabyte disc and the Full Install of 694 megabytes occupies only 0.95 per cent of the total space. Installation was a breeze, using both discs. Once the CD drive engages the program, brief and clear instructions appear on the screen and are easy to follow. Two icons are installed on the desktop-one for PEP Archive 1v3, the other for PEP Help (about which, more later). The program works for fifteen days without registration, a process that requires communication with PEP Headquarters in order to allow the owner to use the disc on that computer and to prevent copying. Given the very clear instructions, registration can be accomplished either by email or by telephone to the help person whose numbers are provided. I did it by phone very quickly, calling during the times indicated.
In the Land of the PCDR, while the contents have a comforting familiarity, this Gulliver has had to work to map out the mental landscape through which one must pass to reach the chosen goal. The experience of that landscape must be something like that described by Oliver Sacks in the story of a man who regains vision, has to reconstruct or make new links between the perception and the memory of it through other modalities, and then figure out what to do with it.
Once an initial lay of the land is mapped out, however, one may reuse it and build on it extensively.
Unlike Gulliver’s travels, there are guide-books to the Land of the PCDR-instructions to guide the ignorant, the uninitiated and the timorous. Consider the following comments as a ‘ guide to the guidebooks’ , rather than as a guide to the software.
In Version 3, the confusing plethora of help in earlier versions is gone, probably a result of lost travellers in Versions 1 and 2. Now there are two major help sources: PEP Help, which is a separate program on the disc, purpose-written for users of the PEP CD ROM literature database, and another, more general help source written for the use of the generic software application program, called Folio Views. My recommendation is that only the first, purpose-written source be used-PEP Help-accessed either through the PEP Help desktop icon provided at installation, or through Windows Start menu, viz. Start-Programs-PEP Archive 1v3-PEP Help. The second source of help authored by Folio Views is more complex, more technical and less helpful but unfortunately easier to access through the Help label at the top of the program’s screen. Once PEP Help itself is accessed, it can be run as a separate program simultaneously with work in the database and brought to the screen as needed (for example, alt-tab) without going back to the Start menu and without getting involved in the Folio Views Help menu. PEP Help is intelligently written with clear examples; it can be searched for particular topics and, although it does reward study, one need not read all of it to be able immediately to make good use of the program. The first item in PEP Help is entitled ‘ A Quick Introductory Tutorial (click here first)’ , which is exactly the same as ‘ Tutorial Guide to the CD-ROM’ located about midway down the PEP Help Contents. The tutorial is very well thought out and a valuable asset.
There are many ways to search and work with this software and I will refer only to three of them. The first is very easy and amusing to try, and it is entitled ‘ Quick Access’ -these words appear in red letters when the program is first called up, in the upper right-hand corner of the Document Pane. Clicking on the red letters reveals a menu of eight items: Table of Journals, Table of Authors, Table of Articles, All Figures, All Tables, All Abstracts/Summaries, All References and About PEP Archive 1. If one clicks on the Journals, the names of all the journals included in the database are displayed; clicking on a journal name shows a list of years and volume numbers for that journal, while clicking on one of those will display the corresponding table of contents, and clicking on one of those titles brings up the text of the article. The same unfolding display is available with all the other items except for the last one, which tells about the database. It is the most engaging tool for browsing. If needed, its description is accessible in PEP Help’s Index under Browsing or Access and then the sub-heading Quick Access.
For those interested in detail, the following describes the exercise of printing out a paper, which exemplifies how PEP Help works, how the program works and shows some possible complications. From this, the task may appear more difficult than it is in actuality. I will go through it step by step.
(1) Once the program has been started via the PEP Archive 1v3 desktop icon, a typical sequence begins by clicking on the Search tab at the screen top, while in the ‘ All’ view (tabs for the various Views are at the screen bottom), resulting in three choices of how to proceed.
(2) For this example, choose ‘ 1. Search by context- . . .’ Then, typing in an author’s name in the space provided for the author almost immediately produces a list of all that author’s articles on the left-hand side (Contents or Bibliography Pane), while the text of one of those articles appears in the centre (Document Pane). I have practised using a published one-page abstract instead of an entire article, so printing it out to test the procedure produces only one page, thus saving trees.
(3) Typing in ‘ Abend’ as the author, then clicking on OK in the lower right-hand corner produces the results described. Changing the highlight position in the Bibliography Pane brings up the corresponding article’s text in the Document Pane. It is exactly at this point that caution is needed. Clicking on one of the usual print icons may result only in the citation and not the article, or in printing out a substantial part of the entire database. If one resorts to the Help at the screen top, Folio Views generic help unfolds but it is quite unsatisfactory for these purposes.
(4) Go to (5) below for the specific steps, or continue here to read about getting help. If one now goes to PEP Help (where the screen reads ‘ PEP-HELP CONTENTS’ ), always the better option, there are three places to look for instructions, all listed on that page-(a) one may look in PEP’s ‘ Quick Introductory Tutorial’ , Section 11 (Printing Out a Complete Article or Selected Text-probably the best explanation) or use PEP Help’s index that leads to the same information as (b) in a sub-section titled ‘ Printing, Copying and Pasting Text’ , or (c) near the end of the CONTENTS page in the section ‘ Common User Questions and Solutions’ , in which the 23rd red-bulleted topic (of 24 topics) addresses this question. All warn that, following any such printing, the ‘ Clear All Checks’ option must be clicked, either under the Edit menu at the top, or by right clicking in the Bibliography Pane. Failing to do this affects subsequent searches and printings while the program is running in the current session. However, once you have read the clear, straightforward and brief directions, the entire printing process is easy and simple to repeat.
(5) In step (3) above, the cursor is in the Document Pane for Abend’ s abstract. Next, click on the Print icon on the upper left of the screen, thus producing a new ‘ dialogue box’ . Three specific things need to be done here: (a) click on the button (sometimes called ‘ radio’ instead of button) named ‘ Section’ (each ‘ Section’ is an individual article, and that is what is wanted here). That should result in a black dot in the centre of the ‘ radio’ and in highlighting the particular item to be printed out; (b) click on the empty box in front of that highlighted item, which should leave a check mark in that box; (c) click on OK. That one page should then print out. This procedure works for any article one chooses. Variations in this procedure produce different results.
A third example illustrates a sample of the search power immediately available. Being interested in the dreams of deaf-blind children, I may choose either Search by Context or Advanced Search (numbers 1 or 2 in the drop-down menu, or Search Icons 1 or 2). Settling on Search 1, I type in the words: dream* (using the * covers dreams, dreamer, dreaming etc.) deaf-blind child and then the display ‘ tree’ shows there are five articles that have these words within one or more paragraphs. If I click OK, the articles are listed on the left and the text of the first one is shown in the Document Pane. The differences in results between Search and Search 2, and between various word form inputs, are details that are well explained in PEP Help and in the tutorial contained within PEP Help.
The PEP Gurus offer a tutoring service to those who are inclined to make their first trip with a guide. My experience leads to the recommendation either to engage a PEP tutor or to follow the carefully written tutorial in PEP Help, as it is in general an excellent guide. The program can do many more tasks than printing, as mentioned earlier, and possibly because of its multiple capacities, I have not found this program to be one that can be learned easily without the manual or a tutor, but it is one that repays frequent use, even if the periods of contact are relatively brief. I myself have used the tutorial rather than the tutor.
Similarities to Gulliver’s trips lie in the mind-stretching exposure to new and different ways of thinking, working and putting things together. Given my prior experiences in literature searches, guidebooks and intrinsic motivation, I felt this exercise led me to partake of the excitement of discovery Gulliver experienced, but the parallel to his search-light on the endless variety of human follies and foibles I found to apply only to me. I can recommend this PEP CD ROM third version enthusiastically and as an opportunity for any computer-phobic to experience the gratification
of confronting and surmounting that difficulty most productively.
ROBERT L. TYSON
5174 Chelsea Street
La Jolla, CA 92037-7908