Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (Summer, 1996). Dream guide to the Internet III: online dreaming community via mail lists. Dream Cyberphile Column. The Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter 13(2), 18-19,25.

--------. (Summer, 1996). The quantitative study of dreams. Content analysis online for serious research!: An interview with Adam Schneider & G. William Domhoff. Dream Cyberphile Column. The Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter 13(2), 18-19,25.

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Richard Catlett Wilkerson


The Cyberphile this issue includes an interview with the developers of the new Quantitative Analysis site, some information on the effects of the new Telecommunications Act, an update on the Internet Exhibition Center for the ASD July convention and information about the Journal Dreaming, now on our ASD Web site.

The Quantitative Study of Dreams. Content Analysis Online for Serious Research! An Interview with Adam Schneider & G. William Domhoff

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 dream research.

[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 time.

[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 provide some!

[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 analysis?

[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 dreams@zzyx.ucsc.edu

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: http://fred.outreach.org/gmcc/asd/homepage.htm

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 dreaming online.
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 laptop sessions.

*Richard, I'm online now 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

This article may be slightly altered from its original form on the ASD Newsletter to conform to Web Format.