The Humanities Computing Yearbook

Tue, 24 Jan 89 23:33:05 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 528. Tuesday, 24 Jan 1989.

Date: 24 January 1989
From: Willard McCarty <>
Subject: Plans for The Humanities Computing Yearbook

As I have announced on Humanist, The Humanities Computing
Yearbook 1988 is now in print from Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Preparations for the next volume are well underway, but the
organization of this and all subsequent volumes is very different
from that of the first. Reviewers of HCY 1988 and other computing
humanists may be interested to know how we plan to change and
thus improve the Yearbook.

Both authors regard the HCY as the first step towards an
acceptable reference work for the field rather than a finished
design. In particular, we realized while volume 1 was in progress
that such a resource could only be done properly with the
collaboration of many scholars around the world. While we think
that this first volume shows the possibilities clearly enough, it
necessarily lacks two things: detailed knowledge of activities in
the many countries where they are taking place, and expertise
rooted in each of the academic disciplines affected. The need for
such expertise is especially great because the Yearbook must
represent in each year what is currently of interest to
practicing scholars. It is not just a report on the activities of
the year, nor is it (at all) a cumulative listing of everything
done so far.

Consequently, in the last few months we have appointed members of
an Advisory Board to take charge of specific sections of the HCY
under the general editorship of Ian Lancashire and myself. This
board consists of about 40 individuals in North America, Europe,
and the Near and Far East. Members are expected to scan sources
in their academic area for articles, books, software,
associations, and the like. The Toronto office takes
responsibility for sources more explicitly dedicated to
computing, contacts vendors and developers of software for their
cooperation, and gives Advisory Board members other appropriate

Electronic mail in general, and Humanist in particular, are bound
to play a significant role in the speedy interchange of
information among the several collaborators of the HCY. You can
expect to see inquiries from them on Humanist, such as Lou
Burnard's recent one about database management systems. Your help
and suggestions will be most welcome.

Our joint experience is that electronic media, such as Humanist,
serve to update experts faster than printed books, although these
are still the main scholarly medium for the humanities as a
whole. A resource book on humanities computing does more than
cater to the expectations of our colleagues, however. It provides
a useful stability that the electronic counterpart lacks; it
tends to demand a standard of accuracy not common in the rough-
and-tumble of e-mail; and as Ben Shneiderman has pointed out, it
gives closure to the subject, hence draws attention to its shape
as a whole. We hope that in this way the HCY will make a real
contribution to our understanding of the one thing that we are
severally doing.

Willard McCarty