humanities computing centres, cont. (55)

Fri, 21 Apr 89 22:43:15 EDT

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 869. Friday, 21 Apr 1989.

Date: 21-APR-1989 13:25:26 GMT
Subject: humanities computing centres

Charles Ess asks who uses our scanners and to what purpose.
The use is varied, especially the desktop scanner.
The Kurzweil 4000 tends to be used by staff who need
large amounts of text from (out of copyright) books and newspapers
put on-line for further analysis. However, in some
cases it has been used by people undertaking editing of
books/journals, where it is still easier to get hardcopy
from contributors, or re-editing an older volume.
The desktop scanner is used to some
degree for these uses, but also includes smaller jobs, such as
taking old papers and getting them on-line (mainly staff),
getting teaching materials on disk, and even
students who have had their disks corrupted, and need
to reconstitute a thesis from hardcopy printouts.
In short it is used in a large number of ways for a large
number of purposes, and we have found both Kurzweil's
much in demand (and not simply by Humanists).

In the same way, the general use of the Humanities Computing
room is varied, ranging from simple word processing (e.g. a
short essay), through complicated applications. I don't
think we should leave out the major projects; certainly no
supercomputer facilities cater for the humanities user, nor
are they likely to in this funding climate. However, again
in this funding climate, we are unlikely to be able to set
up a Centre with enough hardware, so that one user can
monopolise a machine and software all the time. As a result
we try to encourage major projects for which outside funding
is sought, to include hardware and software. Otherwise we try to
thread a middle ground: offering the more commonplace
(and in total time, most-used) facilities, such as word processing,
but providing these facilities also elsewhere, and encouraging
individual departments to set up similar ones. At the same
time we try and purchase software which perhaps might be
outside the budget of individual departments, and might be
used for special projects in a shorter time frame; e.g.
a textual database program, a D.T.P. package, etc. It is
admittedly trying to be both ends of the spectrum, but
is the best we can do with limited means.

Susan Kruse
King's College London