20.049 historical hygene

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2006 08:04:44 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 49.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2006 08:01:28 +0100
         From: "Edward Vanhoutte" <edward.vanhoutte_at_kantl.be>
         Subject: historical hygiene

Only three years ago, David Robey reported in LLC (18/1: 3-9) on the
important 'roadmap' meeting held in Pisa in 2001. The graphical
representation of this report was developed by Harold Short and
Willard McCarty, who used this 'rough intellectual map for humanities
computing' both in his contribution to the Encyclopedia of Library
and Information Science and in a variant version as the basis for his
chapter on Discipline in his recent book Humanities Computing
(Palgrave, 2005). This chapter refers to the original map as
appearing on-line on <http://www.allc.org/reports/map/> and to the
full reports on the state of the art in the multiple disciplines to
which this map is linked. So far, apart from the report by Robey,
all information can be found on the basis of Willard's book. Starting
from Robey's report, on which the map was based, the eager student
won't find the fuller accounts on the multiple disciplines, because
the URI's to which Robey's report refers, have disappeared from the
Web. Yet again, this is a deplorable instantiation of the disinterest
in documenting and maintaining the documentation of the several
activities of the humanities computing community that I am observing
on a general level in my research.

Collections of conference abstracts are 'lost'; conference sites
don't exist anymore; nobody seems to know where the on-line version
of the journal 'Canadian Humanities Computing' (formerly Ontario
Humanities Computing) which was available through anonymous ftp in
the mid 1990s has gone to; and these are just a few examples. If, as
Willard suggests in his article in the Encyclopedia of Library and
Information Science, the question what humanities computing is need
not be answered but continually explored and refined, and if these
explorations, on the basis of the intellectual and disciplinary map,
concern the activities which are identified as belonging to the realm
of humanities computing (including self reflection), a definition of
humanities computing is to be found in the history of its activities.
Therefore we need to pay more attention to our historical hygiene and
make sure that documents and publications which are at the core of
the debate on our self awareness remain accessible for a long time.
The roadmap-report-by-Robey example shows that we don't seem to take
care of this. Maybe there's an important role here to play by ADHO.
Their website could become the digital memory of digital humanities
and prevent the unacceptable fact that on-line material complementing
a paper in a refereed journal disappears after only three years.


Edward Vanhoutte
Independent Researcher
Associate Editor, Literary and Linguistic Computing
University of Antwerp - CDE
Dept. of Literature
Universiteitsplein 1
b-2610 Wilrijk
edward dot vanhoutte at kantl dot be
Received on Sat Jun 03 2006 - 05:38:48 EDT

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