5.0524 Roman Seminar Report (1/89)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 12 Dec 1991 19:03:10 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0524. Thursday, 12 Dec 1991.

Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1991 08:14:30 -0500
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (W. McCarty)
Subject: Roman seminar report

The following I pass on with pleasure to Humanist from Tito Orlandi,
Accademia dei Lincei & University of Rome "La Sapienza" (research group IDU).

28 October 1991
a) Report on Seminar of 5 October 1991
b) Call for a group of interest

a) The Seminar "Strumenti informatici nelle discipline
umanistiche: il Problema dell'integrazione" ("Computer
applications in the humanities: the Problem of reciprocal
interaction and integration") was held in Rome on 5 Oct. 1991.
The Seminar was organized by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
(Centro Linceo Interdisciplinare) as part of a research project
entitled "The Humanities challenged by the methods and
technologies of computer science: Continuity of tradition and
change of structure". This project will study such problems as
the changes in methods, the redefinition of some goals, the
special requirements of computer environment, programs, and
languages for the humanities, from a theoretical point of view.

The exchange of texts (be they literary or archaeological, etc.)
is also taken into consideration as a primary concern, instead of
(or at least together with) the communication of results obtained
by applying computer processing to those texts. Here follows an
abstract of the papers read. The papers themselves will be
published soon by the Accademia dei Lincei.

* Luigi CEROFOLINI stressed the technological trend towards
networks of workstations that are sufficiently powerful to
support graphic display, laser printer, CDRom, etc., but do not
rely upon their own isolated packages and data, but upon an
"open" operating system and packages and data shared in the

* Wilhelm OTT described the well-known TUSTEP system for analysis
and edition of texts, a series of tools to be used for whatever
type of machine-readable texts.

* Manfred THALLER described the functions of a DBMS (e.g. the
Goettingen Kleio) as an intermediary between data in its natural
form and that which the user has encoded with tags to qualify the
type of information and so provide the DBMS with sufficient
"knowledge" to evaluate its individual form.

* Francois DJINDJIAN considered first the problem of the identity
of archaeology, confronted by the new technologies, which tend to
widen the gap between the "individualist" (historicist) approach,
and the "natural science" approach. The solution comes probably
from the correct assessment of the formalization (encoding) of
the sources and of the dynamics of the procedures. In this sense,
some problems of the cognitive process and their epistemological
solutions have been proposed.

* Anne-Marie GUIMIER-SORBETS analyzed the difficulties in
organizing archaeological databases in the past, which often
became "closed" systems, little suitable for extended and
cooperative research. The solution for this and other problems
should consist in some "intelligent" software, capable of
processing sources of different kind, as images, data from
databases, texts, and especially texts written in plain natural

* Amilcare BIETTI reported on the problem of proper typological
classification of archaeological artifacts and the statistical
methods to evaluate their significance.

* Mirella CASINI SCHAERF explained some of the problems of
parsing the Italian language, especially when semantics are

In my opinion, what is emerged from the Seminar is the
opportunity to consider the encoding of sources (1) as a "per se"
problem, that is, to be founded theoretically, before any concern
for the software which will analyze it; (2) as a constantly
improving process, where the input of an analysis is to be
modified later by the results of the analysis applied.


b) Those receiving this message, who are really interested in the
theory of what is mentioned above, please contact me, and I shall
try to arrange an electronic discussion group.

Tito Orlandi: TRTIDU2 at ITCASPUR