21.277 the tyranny of old technology

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2007 07:53:11 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 277.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2007 07:50:10 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: the tyranny of old technology

In reference to the recent conversation provoked by the opinions of
Ian Marshall on the tyranny of technology, especially e-mail, the
following will give you pause to reflect on a somewhat deeper matter.
In his delightful Portraits from Memory, Bertrand Russell has the
following to say about Alfred North Whitehead (with whom he wrote the
Principia Mathematica):

>He might have been an able administrator but for one defect, which
>was a complete inability to answer letters. I once wrote a letter to
>him on a mathematical point, as to which I urgently needed an answer
>for an article I was writing against Poincaré. He did not answer, so
>I wrote again. He still did not answer, so I telegraphed. As he was
>still silent, I sent a reply-paid telegram. But in the end I had to
>travel down to Broadstairs to get the answer. His friends gradually
>got to know this peculiarity, and on the rare occasions when any of
>them got a letter from him they would all assemble to congratulate
>the recipient. He justified himself by saying that if he answered
>letters, he would have no time for original work. I think the
>justification was complete and unanswerable. (p. 99)

Unoriginally yours,

Willard McCarty | Professor of Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/. Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p. 26).
Received on Tue Oct 02 2007 - 03:01:43 EDT

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