15.425 more on merry greetings gone by

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 09:48:05 EST

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 425.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu> (46)
             Subject: Re: 15.418 merry greetings on the Solstice

       [2] From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> (7)
             Subject: Re: 15.422 thoughts on merry greetings

       [3] From: Patrick Durusau <pdurusau@emory.edu> (57)
             Subject: Re: 15.418 merry greetings on the Solstice

             Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 14:36:41 +0000
             From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu>
             Subject: Re: 15.418 merry greetings on the Solstice

    On Fri, 21 Dec 2001, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
    > Bad answers in the popular and, alas, academic presses grow like stubborn
    > weeds, thorny with determinisms. Such as: that the future will be
    > thus-and-such, positive or negative as suits the visionary. Or more
    > deviously: that once upon a time (e.g. when the Web was in its infancy) we
    > had the genius to see how things were going and so invested appropriately
    > (e.g. in years of work on Web-based projects). Hurrah for us, and too bad
    > for those who didn't see what we saw. This, however, is not even a wisdom
    > in hindsight but an intellectually damaging hallucination, for the past
    > never was like that, and the present can't be either for the sharp-eyed
    > among us.

    I would like to express at least one opposing point of view at this time,
    and will send a copy of the Project Gutenberg Newsletter later on to add
    some data to support what I say here.

    At least some of us visionaries "the past WAS like that" and we have
    continued unabated to produce 100 eBooks per month with no funding
    in 2001 at Project Gutenberg to increase our collection to 4,000+.

    Project Gutenberg's efforts account for only 20-25% of the listings
    in the Internet Public Library, which makes it obvious that we are
    not the only ones continuing to promote Open Source/FreeTexts.

    Our current goal is to reach eBook #5,000 on our 31st Anniversary,
    next 4th of July.

    Hopefully these facts will provide some materials for those who
    which to see through the "intellectually damaging hallucination"
    perpetrated, but hopefully not perpetuated, above.


    So nice to hear from you,



    Michael S. Hart, Professor of Electronic Text
    Benedictine University [Illinois Benedictine]
    Fellow of the Internet Archive, for year 2000

    Project Gutenberg Etext Executive Coordinator
    No official connection to U of Illinois--UIUC
    Permanent Internet Address!!! hart@pobox.com

    Internet User Number 100 [approximately] [TM]
    One of the several "Ask Dr Internet" Sponsors

    Break Down the Bars of Ignorance & Illiteracy
    On the Carnegie Libraries' 100th Anniversary!

    If I don't answer in two days, please resend.
    It usually means I did not get/see your note.
    For General Information on Project Gutenberg
    Please send us email at: dircompg@pobox.com

             Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 14:37:24 +0000
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: Re: 15.422 thoughts on merry greetings

    Francois and Gerda are both correct (as the Rabbi said to two contradictory
    members in a desire to make peace). And you know, he was correct. Well,
    let me put it this way. You know how jokes often contain at least a small
    part of the truth? Well, I think almost everybody's opinion and viewpoint
    contains at least part of the truth. In this case, I think it is time to be
    oriented toward the future more than we have been, toward Paradise more than
    we have been, and toward the end of uncontrolled anger.


             Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 14:37:43 +0000
             From: Patrick Durusau <pdurusau@emory.edu>
             Subject: Re: 15.418 merry greetings on the Solstice

    Dear Willard,

    I read your most recent post on humanities computing curriculum/discipline
    as raising two separate questions:

    1. What should be included in a course of study designed to further
    humanities computing (in the non-instrumental sense)?

    2. How should a new "disciplinary tribe" be formed to lay claim to
    humanities computing within academic institutions?

    Is that a fair summary of your more graceful prose?

    Assuming that it is, I think the first question deserves our attention but
    not the second.

    Whether in a formal curriculum or a more general guide, I think discussion
    of fruitful areas for those aspiring to be computing humanists would be
    quite helpful. While it is easy to say that such a course of study should
    include a broad exposure to the humanities and computing technology,
    specifying the specific content is more difficult. Personally I would urge
    some fairly significant exposure to computer parsers, both from a
    theoretical as well as practical perspective. Others might prefer to focus
    on the mathematical foundations of computing theory, while still others
    would focus on "big questions" that confront humanities scholarship. The
    exact contours vary from scholar to scholar but the discussion of those
    contours would be useful.

    On the question of a new "disciplinary tribe," I fail to see the benefit of
    creating a tribe on the premise that it has the "true view" as opposed to
    the more parochial views of other tribes.

    >Is it that they
    >hear only the parole of their disciplinary tribe and so cannot properly
    >conceptualise the langue of which it is an expression?

    Shouldn't we consider individuals and not some label that allows us to
    classify them without further thought? It is individuals who transcend the
    boundaries of a curriculum or discipline, whether they are computing
    humanists, classicists, biblical scholars, literary critics, historians,
    etc. Membership in a tribe that claims to transcend narrower views is not
    the same thing as actually transcending narrower views.
    And what of the researchers that (falsely in your view) claim to be
    computing humanists? I keep waiting to hear the consequence of those
    claims. If the entire business school faculty decided to call themselves
    widgets, wizards or even biblical scholars (since I am closely interested
    in biblical studies), of what moment is that to me?

    I once attended a public presentation of statistical analysis of text from
    the Hebrew Bible after which the presenter explained that one measure was
    significant because the manual said that was a significant score. I don't
    think anyone on this list would consider that person a computing humanist
    but I don't need the imprimatur of a discipline to make that judgment. Nor
    would the presence of one, say a Ph.D. in Humanities Computing, change my
    evaluation of that presentation.

    I reminded by your posts on this topic of the passage from Genesis 4:6-7
    (NSRV) which reads:

    4.6 The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry and why has your contenance

    4.7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well,
    sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

    If humanities computing does well, will it not be accepted?

    Patrick Durusau
    Director of Research and Development
    Society of Biblical Literature

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Jan 01 2002 - 09:49:34 EST