20.028 fundamentals

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 12:55:05 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 28.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 11:39:56 +0100
         From: Tatjana Chorney <Tatjana.Chorney_at_SMU.CA>
         Subject: RE: 20.021 fundamentals?

In response to the very interesting question on fundamentals: it strikes me
that the issue may not be "either (fundamentals)/ or (technology)," but
rather how technology may in fact contribute to a change in what constitutes
fundamentals or how it modifies and extends the existing ones.

I am speaking primarily from the point of view of the Humanities, but
reflecting on the relationship between fundamentals and technology in that
context it seems that in addition to the "old" fundamentals crucial to the
study of the Humanities, such as the development of critical thinking and
the ability for careful analysis of any object/subject at hand (in writing
and speaking), one the "new" fundamentals somehow encouraged by the new
technology is the ability to synthesize/integrate/connect/notice
similarities between a variety of apparently disparate materials or
subjects. The ready availability of a wide spectrum of information from a
variety of discipline pools on the WWW turns research and interpretation not
so much into an exercise that depends upon finding information, but on one
that emphasizes classifying it/ making sense of it/making use of/arranging
it meaningfully in a given context. This, of course, has always been the
nature of the work scholars in the Humanities engaged in, only the entire
process seems amplified and emphasized in scope and speed when computer
connectivity is at hand...

Another possible "new fundamental" (which is also an old one, but which,
again, now acquires a new significance and urgency) would be ubiquitous
training in the ability to recognize and respect Diversity in all its
guises-- rhetorical, cultural, methodological, etc...

Dr. Tatjana Chorney
Department of English
MN 307, Saint Mary's University
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
Tel: (902) 491-6274

-----Original Message-----
From: Humanist Discussion Group [mailto:humanist_at_Princeton.EDU] On Behalf Of
Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 7:52 AM
To: humanist_at_Princeton.EDU

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 21.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

           Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 11:05:05 +0100
           From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
           Subject: fundamentals?

My colleague John Lavagnino sent me the following:

> From David Parnas, at http://www.sigsoft.org/SEN/parnas.html :
>I would advise students to pay more attention to the fundamental
>ideas rather than the latest technology. The technology will be
>out-of-date before they graduate. Fundamental ideas never get out of
>date. However, what worries me about what I just said is that some
>people would think of Turing machines and Goedel's theorem as
>fundamentals. I think those things are fundamental but they are also
>nearly irrelevant. I think there are fundamental design principles,
>for example structured programming principles, the good ideas in
>"Object Oriented" programming, etc.

His basic point, about fundamental ideas vs the latest tech, seems
just right to me. But I disagree over the contents of the list of
fundamentals -- I'd keep the Turing Machine on it, also Goedel's
proof. I suspect that the cause of disagreement is the difference in
perspectives, that of humanities computing vs that of computer
science and engineering.

What would you put down as the fundamental ideas we want students to


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax:
-2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Mon May 22 2006 - 08:40:06 EDT

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