3.763 supporting the humanists, cont. (126)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Sun, 19 Nov 89 22:36:59 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 763. Sunday, 19 Nov 1989.

(1) Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 01:04:39 EST (19 lines)
From: "James H. Coombs" <JAZBO@BROWNVM>
Subject: Re: user-support

(2) Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 13:21 EDT (59 lines)

(3) Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 13:19:00 EST (24 lines)
Subject: Re: 3.749 support of humanities computing, cont. (55)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 01:04:39 EST
From: "James H. Coombs" <JAZBO@BROWNVM>
Subject: Re: user-support

I have only scanned the postings on this topic. I have some experience in
this area, however, so I will offer my perspective.

Stand up and be free.

The decision is yours.

--Dr. Jim

Dr. James H. Coombs
Senior Software Engineer, Research
Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS)
Brown University, Box 1946
Providence, RI 02912
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------61----
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 13:21 EDT

Computer Support Personnel and Academics
The question of whether academics should hire computer support from the
ranks of under-employed Ph.D.'s is misleading. The basic question is
who will provide the best computer support, Ph.D's who have learned the
tricks of the computing trade, or professional computer support people?

Suppose a university hires an under-employed Ph.D. for computer support
because that person has learned something about computers and deserves
sympathy, if not the complete respect owed to Ph.D.'s who have won the
race for finding regular academic positions due to merit and excellent
scholarship? Is that university making a wise choice?

Yes, if that Ph.D. knows how to deal with professors as people with their
individual phobias, and idiosyncracies. However, No, if that Ph.D. is a
closet snob who does not treat all people with equal respect and
understanding. If she wants in her heart of hearts to be treated as
Professor, Dr. Important, who really deserves an office in the
Department of Higher Knowledge, and several thousands in research
grants, with a dozen of Ph.D. candidates to find footnotes for her
research articles, just like Dr. Supreme, it is unlikely she will be a
good computer support person just as it is unlikely that Dr. Supreme is
a good teacher.

Let's take a step back, and consider the prior question: Who
contributes to the growth of knowledge? Is it academics only?

People who write and research often earn their living in various strange
ways. One of the stranger is teaching and administration (i.e.
Departmental Chairs, Deans...). Many people who are teachers and
chairpersons in universities complain that they have no time for
writing, and research... and that the journals refuse to publish good
articles, only those that are hackneyed or by friends (so much for
'blind reviewing').

It is true that extra-academics who do write and research have to find
cracks and corners in their normal 40hr+ work week to pursue their
hobby; but so do stamp-collectors, skiers, musicians and poets.

I'm sure we can think of many great contributions by extra-academic
researchers, poets, and musicians. The question is: does academia
actually support ground-breaking research? Or, is the stuff published
by academics, by and large, of the puzzle-solving, nit-picking variety
of research as opposed to the leading ideas in the pursuit of advancing
knowledge? We all know that among those who are the leading
contributers to intellectual life are academics, researchers at private
labs such as Bell, Xerox, IBM..., and private scholars. Would these
people have made the contributions they did make regardless of their
type of employment?

Sheldon Richmond
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 13:19:00 EST
Subject: Re: 3.749 support of humanities computing, cont. (55)

One has to smile at all the talk about getting the Academy to do
something for Humanists. The English Department at UCLA is, as one of
the major departments in the usa still without computers or terminals,
no nuttin, for 90% of its professors, full and/or assistant, etc.
Promised for 4 years, but not delivered. In fact, those with the least
publication are the ones supplied with equipment, by some strange
rationale, or rationalization. UCLA has recently completed a 380
million$ fundraiser, for instruction and research and teaching needs.
But are there computers for humanists/ No, for sociology and history
and etc, but never for the humanist. If one didnt spend for oneself,
one never had so much as a typewriter available! Values! my dear
colleagues, values! But not to despair: in my own case I suppose that
the wait from the age of 55-65 will eventuate in keyboard about the
time that one contemplates easing off. I was given a computer table,
though! and it occupies space that longs for a connection to somewhere!
So if people are poorly off in Hull, say, think of what it is like to be
at a very rich place such as University of California and to see
everyone, from janitors up with terminals, but not computers. Galling?
Entertaining? Kessler@UCLA