3.541 supercomputing the humanities? (46)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Wed, 4 Oct 89 20:59:34 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 541. Wednesday, 4 Oct 1989.

Date: 1 Oct 89 16:32:00 EST
From: "DAVID STUEHLER" <stuehler@apollo.montclair.edu>
Subject: Supercomputers again

A few days ago I posted an extremely brief query about the
use of a supercomputer in humanities computing. Although too
short, the question was serious. (I did receive one answer.)
The administration of my college, Montclair State College in New
Jersey, is considering joining the John Von Neumann supercomputer
center as a full member of the consortium. This will entitle us
to free training for faculty and many hours of CPU time on the
supercomputer. A number of questions arise.
Membership is expensive and the money could perhaps be put
to better use in support of academic computing.
I understand that JVNC is experiencing problems, political
and financial, and that several universities have withdrawn. Any
information anyone may have on this would be appreciated.
We are a "teaching college" although faculty research is
encouraged if not positively required. Those in favor of our
participation in JVNC envision it as experimental--as
supercomputer technology becomes more and more important in our
society and the need to understand this technology moves down to
the undergraduate and perhaps even secondary school levels, we
will lead the way in curriculum development. It all seems a
little too abstract to me.
Finally the most interesting question. Although JVNC is
supported by the NSF, which does not recognize most of what we do
as "science," I suspect that ways could be found to use the
supercomputer. Once in the door, what would a humanist do with
it? What worthy projects have been put aside because available
computer resources were insufficient?

David Stuehler