System on the complete works

Alberto Acquaro's studio


To our Users

 
There are two versions of "DANTE 2000", the Closed version, currently available, and the Open version written for more specialised Users who will be able to add any new data or changes to the System archives.


Our "DANTE 2000" project is addressed to four classes of Users:
  • AMATEURS
  • STUDENTS
  • TEACHERS
  • PROFESSIONALS
The following are a few suggestions for all four types of our system-users, hoping they will help to rapidly understand the power of the System.

One suggestion aimed at all User Groups is : make the best of the great possibilities offered in the Chapter on " SOUND RECORDINGS".

Although "DANTE 2000" has been enjoyed for some time now, it should always be remembered that by its very nature the system is and always will be "a work in progress": lots of new functions will be introduced in the future - some have already been installed and will be completed and enriched. Not by chance is the System sub-titled "Alberto Acquaro's studio" !   Please read the following notes.





















  To our Users













 
 


I N D E X


Amateurs . . . . Students . . . . Teachers . . . . Professionals

( Click on the class of possible Users )



TO AMATEURS


Perhaps Amateurs make up the largest group of all, as it generally includes people who are not dedicated to a systematic study of the Poet's Work. Among these is an ever-growing number of tourists and art-lovers who visit historic cities, especially in Tuscany.

Particularly with over-seas visitors in mind, and to encourage them in their first meeting with Dante, the system offers a complete "translation" of the Comedy in English, Spanish, German and French. There are even some "translations" of the Comedy in Italian dialects and Esperanto!

And for our foreign-language readers, our "DANTE 2000" software has been predisposed in a multilingual edition.
The latest (4.0) Version is already adapted in English and Spanish, whilst the German and French language versions will be available in the future.

Regarding the Comedy, some new functions have been added to Version 4.0, designed especially for amateurs and students to help comprehension.
Where appropriate, each tercet can be accompanied by a "Help" guide for reading the text, a "Translation" in each of the four languages and a vocal comment about the Characters who are speaking in the dialogue.
On request, spoken Quotations and appreciations by famous authors (currently only in Italian) can be called up for each tercet as well as Pictures , Comments , Cross-references to other passages in Dante's works and passages of Text for further examination.

For amateurs in particular, a lot of information has been introduced to stimulate and satisfy natural curiosity about the historical realities in the times of Dante - events that already bore the seeds of the extraordinary phenomenon of the Italian Renaissance which was to leave its mark on our culture. So a considerable number of information cards have been introduced about the Guilds in Florence. We believe that proposing an overall view of the Greater Arts and Lesser Arts is the best way to give a realistic and concrete idea of the environment in which the Poet lived, but also to fire the imagination of anyone who is looking for the experience, through their emotions, of reliving those times in his or her mind.

Another aspect especially dedicated to amateurs is the Picture Gallery: over 1000 Images have been inserted into the system, many of them linked to passages from Dante's Works or to the Information cards. We should point out however that because of the scientific nature of the System, we decided that it was sometimes necessary to sacrifice aesthetic appeal in favour of information.

Let's take the illustrations to give a simple example of how amateurs can use "DANTE 2000", and leave the task of finding other applications to their imagination. In Florence there are thirty or so plaques that mention the places, families or characters found in the Comedy, bearing an inscription of the relative verses and placed in the appropriate places. This offers a wonderful opportunity to plan a fantastic walk round Florence and reconstruct an ideal map of the reality in which the Poet lived.
Well, finding these plaques can be very difficult, also because most modern Florentines know little or nothing about them. We suggest you equip yourselves with some prints that are just a couple of clicks away with "DANTE 2000". Under "selected documents", call up the option "Iscrizioni in Firenze" (Inscriptions in Florence). Or else, on the System's Home-page, you can perform a Picture Search, picking the term "Iscrizioni in Firenze" in the hit list and activating the display mode by clicking on the "GALLERY" command (see Figure 1 in the "Guided tour of the System"). Printing a few of the Information cards and Pictures will make the job quick and easy, which otherwise could be long and frustrating.


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TO STUDENTS


Personalising the files in "DANTE 2000" may be just an optional accessory for Amateurs, but this facility can be extremely important for other User-classes. Therefore we'd like to explain what this possibility offers. On request, two utility programs are available: "TRADC" and "COMDC", specifically designed to record "Translations" and Comments on the Comedy (see Products).

"TRACD" furnishes a space of three lines, of eighty characters each, for each tercet in the Comedy. This space is for a translation of the tercet - but this doesn't mean that the space cannot be used for other purposes, for example for short notes and/or cross-references. The only limitation to the number of these "translations" or "pseudo-translations" is the space on the disc. Whenever a note or translation is recorded for a particular tercet, it will also appear whenever the tercet is called up, so that it is always available for consultation.

"COMDC" is designed for recording Comments on the Comedy, there are practically no space limits for a Canto. Since the programme allows recording (for personal use) notes or commentaries by any author, as in the previous case there is nothing to stop you using the space to memorise your own or somebody else's comments, lessons, notes etc.
In this case too, these practically unlimited number of "pseudo-comments" will be available in the search itinerary whenever at least one tercet in a Canto is the search subject.

The above facilities can, or rather should, be exploited by high school/secondary school students so that they can instantly build up their own personal reference files that they can use and amplify if they intend to continue their literary studies.

As well as the above facilities, "DANTE 2000" offers students many other opportunities to increase their knowledge in a rapid, and we hope pleasant, way. Some of the themes in "DANTE 2000" come with a number of "extras" - not strictly necessary to the study of Dante, but which allow students to increase their "intellectual baggage".

Regarding the Comedy, the 4.0 Version also contains some functions that are dedicated especially to Amateurs and Students, and which should help comprehension of the text. Each tercet has a "Translation" in the four languages and, where appropriate, a "Reading Aid" and a "Vocal note" taken from important criticisms by famous authors.

For the time being we shall leave the details of the Guided Tour of the System, which is essentially a work tool to discover the whole range of possible applications, to later and concentrate on just a few examples that can benefit Students.

It often happens that University Professors talk about various forms of figurative speech, taking for granted that the students know them. For this reason "DANTE 2000", apart from the study of the forms that Dante used, proposes a complete picture of the different forms of figurative speech, both in the Dictionary and in the appropriate Information cards. Each form of speech is defined and has an example from various authors, including modern ones. We strongly recommend high school students to take full advantage of this feature.

A similar situation concerns Rhymes (see the "TIPI DI RIMA" (Kind of Rhymes) tree in the Dictionary and the comments under the relative descriptors).

Particularly with Students in mind, we supplied the System with as many Information cards as possible to cover all the events that happened in each year of Dante's life and in the immediately preceding or following years. A specific tree of the Dictionary caters for all the different types of events (personal , historical , literary , scientific , technical and natural), this allows choosing the Events by type as well as by year. The information has been acquired from various sources and various biographies on Dante to avoid an univocal view. We firmly believe that a continuous reference to the Events cards, which are destined to grow in future, will undoubtedly help to better understand the Works of the Poet.

Finally, again with Students in mind, there is an Index card for each unit (or Chapter) of the "Minor Works", especially those in prose, giving a brief summary of the Chapter. We are sure that Students will appreciate having a summary available as they proceed with their studies, especially in the case of works written in Latin.

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TO TEACHERS


This User-class can employ "DANTE 2000" for the following three ends:

We should like to underline the importance of the third case, which we consider fundamental. A concrete experience of bringing together, or indeed combining, different subjects once considered distinct is undoubtedly the best way to get the ductile minds of the younger generation to conceive the true sense of the current Revolution of Thought and stimulate their imagination as a tool to tackle future initiatives. Other applications, maybe more advanced and complex than "DANTE 2000", can help to stress the importance of culture both in Europe and other countries in the world.
Often the only "raw material" for a country like Italy is its culture and history. We are convinced that the formation of future generations through the widespread diffusion of this type of initiative will yield invaluable results in time - in terms of the economy and employment, standard of living and the image of Italy throughout the world. It is just as obvious that this sort of initiative cannot be born out of a short-sighted view of mere market values. Today the distribution of this type of initiative is the duty of the political classes, who should put teachers in a position where they can to use them.

Getting back to teachers, especially Secondary and High School teachers and the opportunity of organising work groups with "DANTE 2000", this is just what the two programs "TRADC" and "COMDC", explained above, have to offer. We are convinced that the best didactic experiences are spontaneous and natural, thanks to the creativity of each individual teacher and their pupils. In this respect we should like to propose a couple of initiatives, perhaps not particularly imaginative, but we believe effective.

The first is as follows: the notes pupils take during lessons, perhaps with a tape recorder, could first be organised under the guide of the teacher and then used as input for the "pseudo-Translations" and "pseudo-Comments" (these two applications are complementary). Apart from the formative value of this initiative, this operation could build up a cultural patrimony both for the Students and their Teachers.

A further initiative we should like to propose, in terms of education perhaps more important, is to encourage Students to create their own files with their own contributions. These could include the best comments, essays and the results of research projects. This could lead to different classes, or houses, building up their own files, with the scope of creating a file for the School or College by combining all the best contributions.

This educational activity could be integrated with debates and meetings with experts from the Information Sciences. But a word of warning! Unfortunately it is often common practice today to attach the label of "expert in informatics" to anybody who only has good experience in using the software available on the market. Meetings arranged with this "qualification" alone can, from our experience, risk ending up as counter-productive.


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TO PROFESSIONALS


For this User-class, more than any of the others, we are fully aware that the applications and benefits of "DANTE 2000" cannot be summed up in just a few lines. We are convinced that a continuous, reciprocal exchange of ideas, information and contributions are necessary to guarantee the System a healthy, strong growth. For the time being, we shall limit ourselves to a few observations, a bit like a telegram.

"DANTE 2000" was conceived essentially as a work tool, it has just been born and is now going through all the usual physiological weaning and teething problems. Up to now we have been trying to resolve all the exquisitely informatic problems - no simple task we must admit. The work hypothesis was to create a healthy informatic structure, capable of growing freely through the stimulus received from it world. The very long experience in automation in the most disparate fields has told us how important it is to avoid involving Dante Professionals at this stage. Previous experience has shown that an early intervention from Professionals in the sector inevitably introduces elements of subjectivity, which sooner or later lead to the failure of the project.
But having said this, it does not mean that Dante Professionals should not be involved in the work - of course they should be - but as "external advisors".

Having accepted this concept and carefully considering the delicate nature of the System, we decided it was time to don the necessary humility and go into the world of the younger generation. In this way we could look at Dantean philology from a different stand-point to see the project from two different points of view and understand what students really need to know about Dante.
Once this was accomplished, there was the extremely delicate problem of choosing which critical Editions of Dante's Works and publication references to use to build up the archive files. We decided to rely on common sense: we adopted the criteria which best met our work hypothesis, bearing the four different classes of system-users in mind. In addition we chose the same critical Editions as the Dantean Encyclopaedia of the Italian Encyclopaedia Institute.
Fully aware, however, that each choice will inevitably be criticised by some groups of Professionals (let's hope not too many!), but also to unload some of the responsibility, we set ourselves an ever greater task: the creation of an Open Edition of "Dante 2000" (the edition distributed today is the Closed Edition). This means offering Professionals the possibility of adding their own references, inter-textual cross-references, Dictionary entries etc. to the archive files etc. and even substitute them if they want. Therefore, in the future there could be different versions of "DANTE 2000", all running on the same software, and an "official one" managed by our team.

Finally, we'd like to give a warm invitation to Dantean Professionals and to all classes of system-users. It would be a good idea, and perhaps necessary, to start a "Friends of Dante Club" as a back-up to "DANTE 2000" through the Internet. This would help "debugging" the system (correcting inevitable mistakes), but more importantly offer the opportunity of hearing your opinions and adding all sorts of contributions.


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"DANTE 2000" - Alberto Acquaro's studio -  [ Map ]

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