3.1121 electronic discourse (75)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 1 Mar 90 21:30:00 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1121. Thursday, 1 Mar 1990.

(1) Date: 1 March 1990, 00:11:19 EST (21 lines)
From: Sheizaf Rafaeli (313) 665 4236 21898MGR at MSU

(2) Date: 27 February 1990 (36 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: humanists on e-mail

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 1 March 1990, 00:11:19 EST
From: Sheizaf Rafaeli (313) 665 4236 21898MGR at MSU

Re: McCarty's cite of Gumperz. The use of communication to deal with
diversity, and e-mail.

I believe you hit the nail on the head. Though I'm not familiar with
Gumperz, he, too, has a point. E-mail is indeed studied from this
perspective, including some rather quatitatively inclined content
analyses in the communication research literature. Look for the work of
Ronald Rice, Charles Steinfield, Janet Fulk, L. Hellerstein, myself and

To make a presumptious collective statement, we are interested in- (and
have been looking at-) the use of such media and the communication
situations fostered by these media in relation to diversity, emotions,

Are there any others (in the humanities) we should know about?

Sheizaf Rafaeli
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 27 February 1990
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: humanists on e-mail

This in response to Sheizaf Rafaeli, above. I repeat Dr. Rafaeli's call
for the names of humanists who are working or have worked on electronic
discourse. I know of only a few.

Walter Ong, _Orality and Literacy_, may be well enough known not to
require mention. Also see Michael Heim, _Electric Language: A
Philosophical Study of Word Processing_ (Yale), and his article,
"Grassi's Experiment: The Renaissance Through Phenomenology", _Research
in Phenomenology_ 18 (1988): 233-59 and ff, which has some fascinating
hints; Richard A. Lanham, "The Extraordinary Convergence: Democracy,
Technology, Theory, and the University Curriculum" _South Atlantic
Quarterly_ 89 (1990): 27-50. Many things stretch further into the
background, e.g., Harold A. Innis, _Empire and Communication_, and of
course Roman Jakobson's work, conveniently gathered into _Language in
Literature_ (Belknap).

If I may also hazard a broad statement -- and what else is Humanist for?
-- I think we need to know about several things in order to understand
e-mail: the nature of "computer-mediated communication"; the sociology
and social psychology of electronic communities; the rhetorical
qualities and linguistics of electronic text; and what else? More
fundamentally, perhaps, we need to have some notion of text adequate to
the swiftly moving bitstream of chatter. This is a very new medium for a
very old activity. To me this suggests that (a) our old wisdom about
language and literature is called into play, and (b) we must remember
that style and content, medium and message, are finally inseparable.

Suggestions? Comments?

Yours, Willard McCarty