17.653 what were they (you) thinking?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Feb 17 2004 - 06:25:39 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 653.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 11:19:47 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: what were they thinking?

In his useful essay, "Software as Science -- Science as Software", in
History of Computing: Software Issues (Springer, 2002), historian Michael
Mahoney asks a very interesting question of computer science that we could
well ask of our own field. Perhaps, if you are old enough :-), you have
some answers.

Mahoney asks what drew people to computing and what baggage did they bring
with them:

>That tools embody agendas has particular importance for new sciences. For,
>a new science means a new agenda, and tracing the emergence of a new
>science means showing how a group of practitioners coalesced around a
>common agenda different from other agendas in which they had been engaged.
>In the case at hand, what questions or problems drew people to the
>computer? What tools did they bring with them and how did they apply those
>tools? How did their involvement shape the emerging agenda of the new field?
(p. 28)

What did philologists, historians, musicologists, literary critics,
linguists and all the rest -- all these and more turned up in the pages of
the early issues of CHum -- see in the computer that attracted them? What
was the nature of the ideational baggage they brought that motivated them
and that shaped the early applications of the tool, indeed defined the tool
for them? How did those of us who are old enough, and were flogging the use
of computers at the time, appeal to the curious masses? What did we
observe at the time?


Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Mar 26 2004 - 11:19:42 EST