The World Wide Web, (WWW or most often, simple the Web) is the newest and most
explosive aspect of the Internet. The Web allows individuals and groups to put up
graphical, visually pleasing pages of information, pictures, sounds, response forms and
someday soon, movies and live action telecommunications. Not only has ASD constructed a
site (see the Update below) for dream concerned individuals, but many others have also put
up Web sites on dreams and dreaming. And besides dream interpretation and dream
information sites, there are also sites for the collection of dream data. One approach was
discussed in ASD newsletter ASD Newsletter, 12(2), allowing for dreams to be linked
according to date and the interests of the dreamer. Other sites, like DreamLink, allow for
the collection of dreams according to category.
Now Bill Domhoff and Adam Schneider have taken a new step and brought to the Web a
model site for researchers. The new site, The Quantitative Study of Dreams, (QSD) brings
to the Internet a whole tradition dream research currently being taught the University of
California at Santa Cruz that going back to Calvin Hall's work in the 1940's.
An Internet Interview with Adam Schneider & G. William Domhoff
Richard C. Wilkerson [RCW]: Could you briefly describe the differences between the
quantitative focus of your site and qualitative dream analyses approaches?
Bill Domhoff [BD]: Quantitative studies are an attempt to minimize bias and inevitable
variations in subjective analyses. By carefully defining categories so that two or more
people can arrive at the same findings on a set of dreams (reliability), there is at least
the chance of building up a body of useful findings. With qualitative analyses, things
remain very individualistic--and personal differences from analyst to analyst can lead to
big differences in conclusions.
Adam Schneider [AS]: I think Bill covered this one pretty well. I'll just add that most
researchers, especially in the U.S., have traditionally looked down upon dream research as
too "fuzzy" and not scientific enough. We're hoping that our efforts - via the
Web site and Domhoff's forthcoming book - will lend some respectability to the field of
[RCW]: What brought about the idea of putting qualitative studies online?
[AS]: We've tossed around the idea of somehow using the Internet for a while. When the
Web appeared, it was the perfect on-line medium. I came up with the QSD Web idea in the
fall of 1995. We got the Web space from UCSC's Social Sciences WWW server in November, and
we're finally publicizing it now, in February. (Until very recently, I was too busy
writing my Web server book to work on it full time.) But I'll always be adding more stuff
to the site; in my mind, it'll never be completely done.
[BD]: The publicity about the web, along with knowing that Adam had excellent skills on
the Internet as well as a mastery of the Hall/Van de Castle coding system, slowly led me
to the realization that a web site might make it possible for us to interest the few
people with a quantitative bent in turning their attention to the study of dreams. We also
saw possibilities of developing a network of classroom teachers who could collect dreams
across the world the say day or week to see if there are commonalities in dream content.
We also thought that we might reach a few people with long dream series who are looking
for a new way to analyze their series to supplement their own approaches. Finally, we
might find done or two dream series that spread over many years, or from early teens to
young adulthood, that would be useful for us to analyze ourselves, if we can find the
[RCW]: Who then, would be the most likely users of your site?
[AS]: Anyone who's interested! But we're hoping for serious researchers at universities
and such. The more people publish studies using the Hall/Van de Castle coding system, the
more credibility it will gain.
[BD]: Who is likely to use our site or find it of use, I should say. We think anyone
who has written down dreams for any period of time might find it interesting to try out
our methods. We also hope to attract quantitatively oriented students from all over the
world who might want to do serious studies of their own dreams or of dreams they collect
on their campuses. We also hoped we might find two or three people with programming skills
who might help us improve our software.
[RCW]: There is a request on the QSD site for interested programmers who may be able to
contribute software that could facilitate the collection and processing of all this dream
data. Are there some general areas of programming needs and who should they contact?
[BD]: Perhaps the most useful tool for us would be an interactive program to teach
newcomers our coding system. It would be a matter of taking the coding rules presented on
our site and turning them into the kind of step-by-step processes, complete with examples
and questions that give feedback, that have been developed for learning how to use the
Mac, for example.
We also need software to do our quantitative analyses once we've done the codings by
hand. Adam Schneider has one he's working on that does all our analyses using characters
once the coes have been entered into the computer--but he says it is still far from user
friendly, and needs some work. But we need that for social interactions, success and
failure, misfortunes, and more.
You see, the main problem with content analysis is that it is labor intensive. The
computer can't do the coding for us, we are told, because 'most of the codings are too
complicated--even though they are simple enough for humans. So we have to find ways to
speed things up for people once the codings are done.
Modern computers made it possible for us to store, retrieve, and send huge amounts of
dream texts, so the next steps are the ones I just mentioned. Unfortunately, it doesn't
look like a coding system like ours, which picks up people's conceptions and
preoccupations amazingly well, can be computerized, as I just mentioned. If it could, we
could produce some 'truly amazing findings, I believe.
[AS]: Like Bill said, an interactive "study guide" for the coding system
would be nice. I'm just starting to learn some Perl programming, so I might be able to get
something up there, but it's not my forte.
[RCW]: You will also be needing more data now, more dreams. What might dreamers do to
assess their collections before contacting you?
[BD]: As we say at the site, we are looking for a few lengthy dream series where the
person wrote down every dream she or he recalled in a given time period. Even if the
person takes a year or two off, or many years, the main thing is that we have every dream
for the period when dreams are being recorded. Otherwise, we won't be able to make
comparisons with our norms. We also need dreams that have been typed, even put on a disk.
We also want people to use a pseudonym so they cannot be identified, and to change names
in the dreams and pick new names for their hometown and other identifying places.
We like this anonymity not only to assure a person's privacy but because it is
absolutely essential that we know nothing about the people whose dreams we study. If we
are going to make inferences about them on the basis of their dream series, we have to be
sure we aren't spoiling the study by making our inferences on the basis of other
information or cues. As we all know, just meeting a person, or hearing them talk, or
having them tell us their educational background or occupation, can set our minds to work
creating a million hypotheses about a person. Social psychology research shows we can
guess ethnicity, age, and sometimes the region of the country just by hearing the voice of
a person counting from one to ten, so we know that any information about the person can
ruin our study. I claim that these "blind analyses" are the only hope for truly
scientific studies of dream content that can test the many interesting hypotheses set
forth by dream theorists down through the years.
[RCW]: You have provided the information online for those who want to learn this
system. What kind of time and commitment is involved for those interested?
[BD]: It takes several hours of practice to learn each part of the system, but the
amount of time varies by category and by person. But when you use the system, you always
have the coding rules open to the category you are using, and you are always checking the
examples, so it is not a matter of memorizing the system, but of becoming comfortable with
it. We recommend that two or more people learn it together, if possible, cause they can
deal with each other's weak points. Working with someone also keeps motivation up.
[AS]: If you want to learn the entire system, I'd say quite a bit of time and effort is
required. To learn just one or two categories, such as characters, it shouldn't take too
long at all. But learning the system is NOT the most time-consuming part of this research
process; it's the actual coding of a dream series that takes a long time. We'll freely
admit that it's a lot of work, but unfortunately, we can't imagine a way it could be made
easier. The complexity of human language - not to mention the fact that we're always
adding new words - makes it *impossible* to have a computer program read dream reports and
pull out information. If you want some examples of why it's impossible, I'd be glad to
[BD]: We don't want to kid anyone. Our system takes time to use, but it is well worth
the effort, as our findings show.
[RCW]: What plans or hopes do you have for the future of the QSD site and content
[BD]: Our hopes can be inferred from what we've said so far--to find new researchers
who want to use a quantitative coding system, to maybe receive some programs to help with
our analyses, to find two or three useful long dream series, and to create a network of
classroom teachers who could collect Most Recent Dreams at about the same time each year.
[AS]: We'd like to get serious researchers interested in this topic, and we'd like to
spread the word about QSD to everyone so they don't automatically dismiss dream research
as the domain of parapsychologists and talk-show quacks.
Contact Points: If you think you have useful dreams or have programming skills and
would like to participate in the project, write to BD and AS email@example.com
If you are on the Web, Please visit the QSD
site or make a note to visit at :
Also, the QSD site will be available for exploring at the July ASD Berkeley Convention.
Dream Guide to the Internet III: Politics, Freedom & Dreams
If you didn't realize that the new Telecommunications Act of 1996 had any thing to do
with dreams, you might want to read this. While the Act mostly contains long overdue
reform that will increase global access options and make for a better lifestyle, the
tacked on Section 223 about what is indecent and illegal in Cyberspace is so broad that it
covers online discussion of dreams that refer to not only to sexual acts and body orifices
but also to mentions of abortion. The authors claim that the intention was to protect
children from pornography, but it technically makes all online discussion in these topics
a criminal act. Some large commercial carriers have already blocked access to newsgroups.
Whatever your position on this historic Act may be, you can find out more online. See
this resource guide .
If you find that your service provider is blocking access to the newsgroups on dreams
and dreaming, you can bypass this by :
1. Downloading one of the freely available Usenet readers via the Web, such as Free Agent for the PC/IBM
format or NewsWatcher for Macs
2. Via the Web, find an Internet site that offers public access to Usenet. There is a
list of these at
3. Establish a PPP connection to the Internet via your commercial service or ISP
provider. On AOL you will need to download the Winsock program to allow this. (Keyword:
Winsock) On CompuServe they provide a CompuServe Dialer.
4. Start the Usenet reader program and point to the chosen address. You will now have
the option of reading the dream newsgroups of your choice, be that alt.dreams,
alt.dreams.lucid or even the scandalous alt.dreams.casteneda.
ASD Web Site Update
If you are out on the Web, be sure to stop by the ASD web site and see the new
information pages about the ASD Journal Dreaming. These new pages will not only help you
locate the articles you want but also allow you to do key word and phrase searches through
the abstracts. The ASD Homepage will be on display and available for exploration at the
July Claremont Convention and Jayne Gackenbach will even be personally giving a
presentation and tour of the site. ASD Home Page URL:
Dreaming Online at the Claremont Convention
The Internet Exhibition is coming together and will be ready at the July convention to
provide you with learning, entertainment, global networking and the newest ideas about
There will be remote guests from Zurich, New South Wales, New York and other points around
the Globe. Basic Internet training will be available and staff to discuss advanced
networking and research possibilities. Demonstrations and tours of computer programs,
Cyberspace and dreaming will be available and individualized and self-guided tours. Bring
your laptop and connect with events and sites from your room.
You can join the project in a couple of ways. We are going to have global discussions
on hot topics in dreaming. Send in a topic you want discussed to this newsletter or my
e-mail. If you are an expert in a particular area of dreaming and willing to respond to
questions, drop me a line. Also, we are looking for volunteers during the convention to
help out at the Internet Exhibition Center. Hey, are you going to miss the convention?
Consider connecting up and joining in our discussions and classes during the evening
*Richard, I'm online and can't wait for the convention to connect
with the online dream community and events!*
OK, Send me your e-mail address and I let you have a preview copy of the Guide to
Dreaming on the Internet. Indicate Mac or PC.
Hope to see you all Online. Richard Wilkerson