3.1317 Reports: On Play and On Scientific Terminology (147)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 25 Apr 90 17:33:09 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1317. Wednesday, 25 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 24 Apr 90 21:55:40 EDT (94 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: bibliography of play

(2) Date: Wed, 25 Apr 90 10:26:43 PDT (47 lines)
From: MTRILEY@CALSTATE (Mark Timothy Riley)
Subject: terminology report

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 90 21:55:40 EDT
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: bibliography of play

Dear Colleagues:

Some time back I asked for leads on the notion of "serious play",
i.e. play as an essential element in human culture and
intellectual discovery. My question was in support of an article
on Humanist, which is now finished. The following is a slightly
emended version of my footnote on the subject, together with the
appropriate selections from the bibliography.

My thanks to all those who made suggestions and thus illustrated
one of the ways in which Humanist is of use, playfully.

Yours, Willard McCarty

P.S. The article by Hiltz and Turoff listed below is one of the finest
pieces of work on the subject I have encountered.

The cultural importance of `serious play' is argued by Huizinga
1962, Pieper 1964, Rahner 1965: 26-45 and passim, and by Caillois
1979; for the Renaissance in particular, see Wind 1958: 236-8;
see also Mitchell 1983: 215ff. For the role of play and
serendipity in scientific discovery, see Shapin and Schaffer 1985
and Roberts 1989; see also Holton 1973: 17-20, 369-70, 384-6. The
account by A. E. Housman (1935): 49-50, in which he describes the
unwilled `bubbling up' of his inner `spring', recalls the ancient
language of poetic inspiration as well as the recorded experience
of other poets, e.g. Milton, in Samuel Johnson's Life (1906):
100. Play and serendipity in electronic communication are briefly
mentioned by Vallee and Johansen 1974: 100; Johansen, Vallee, and
Spangler 1979: 24; Hiltz and Turoff 1985: 683, 685; Rafaeli 1986:
127; Finholt and Sproull 1990: 61. See Mulkay 1977: 112 for the
role of unplanned `cross-fertilization of ideas' as an `important
source of scientific innovation'. On the social and cultural
roles of entertainment see Critical Connections 1990: 203-5. See
Thompson (1979): chapter 7, for his `serendipity machine'.


Caillois, Roger. Man, Play, and Games. Trans. Meyer Barash.
New York: Schocken, 1979.
Critical Connections: Communication for the Future. U.S.
Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Washington:
Congress of the United States, 1990.
Finholt, Tom, and Lee S. Sproull. "Electronic Groups at Work."
Organization Science 1.1 (1990): 41-64.
Holton, Gerald. Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler
to Einstein. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1973.
Housman, A. E. The Name and Nature of Poetry. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1935.
Hultz, Starr Roxanne, and Murray Turoff. "Structuring Computer-
Mediated Communication Systems to Avoid Information
Overload." Communications of the ACM 28 (1985): 680-9.
Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in
Culture. Boston: Beacon, 1950.
Johansen, Robert, Jacques Vallee, and Kathleen Spangler.
Electronic Meetings: Technical Alternatives and Social
Choices. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979.
Johnson, Samuel. "Milton". In Lives of the Poets.
Mitchell, Richard G., Jr. Mountain Experience: The Psychology
and Sociology of Adventure. Foreword by Gerald Suttles.
Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.
Mulkay, M. J. "Sociology of the Scientific Research Community."
Science, Technology and Society: A Cross-Disciplinary
Perspective. Ed. Ina Spiegel-Rosing and Derek de Solla
Price. London: Sage, 1977. 93-148.
Pieper, Josef. Leisure: The Basis of Culture. Trans. Alexander
Dru. Foreword by T. S. Eliot. New York: Pantheon Books,
Rafaeli, Seizaf. Rafaeli, Seizaf. "The Electronic Bulletin
Board: A Computer-driven Mass Medium." Computers and the
Social Sciences 2 (1986): 123-36.
Rahner, Hugo, S. J. Man at Play, or Did You Ever Practise
Eutrapelia? London: Burns & Oates, 1965.
Roberts, Royston M. Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in
Science. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1989.
Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Air-pump:
Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1985.
Thompson, Gordon B. Memo from Mercury: Information Technology IS
Different. Montreal, Quebec: Institute for Research on
Public Policy, June 1979.
Vallee, Jacques, and Robert Johansen. A Study of Social Effects.
Consultant Robert Randolph and Arthur C. Hastings. Menlo
Park, CA: Institute for the Future, 1974. Vol. 2 of Group
Communication Through Computers.
Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. Rev. and Enl.
Edn. New York: W. W. Norton, 1968.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------52----
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 90 10:26:43 PDT
From: MTRILEY@CALSTATE (Mark Timothy Riley)
Subject: terminology report

Several weeks ago I sent out a request to HUMANIST about the
coining of scientific terminology and promised a report. Here, in
response to the clamors of thousands, is the report.

I had not clearly distinguished between terminology in general and
nomenclature of plants, animals, parts of the body, etc. The
nomenclature of species is well organized. For example, the
International Botanical Congress publishes an International Code of
Botanical Nomenclature. This formidable trilingual tome resembles
a legal document and outlines the prefixes, suffixes for each family,
type, genus, etc. The Int'l Congress of Zoology does the same for
animals; other groups handle microbiology.

For terminology for diseases and other syndromes, the situation is
more fluid, not to say anarchic. Each investigator names his own,
and there has been complaints in the literature about the
proliferation of names for unique syndromes (i.e. the name is
unnecessary) and about unrevealing names (e.g. Bright's disease, a
name which has been used for three syndromes; fortunately now
only used for a disease of the kidneys, but even there it is
somewhat vague).

The situation is physics is interesting: even to (especially to?)
English speakers the recent nomenclature for quarks (from Lewis
Carroll) seems whimsical: quarks come in flavors, up, down,
bottom, and strange. Moreover, this whimsy is of long standing in
physics: neon is new, xenon is strange, argon is lazy, and krypton
is hidden, even from Superman. So I don't think that the strange
nomenclature in physics will vanish.

Several HUMANISTS are working on tools for terminology. Bill
McCarthy in Washington (MCCARTHY@CUA) is preparing a
Hypercard stack to to facilitate the analysis of scientific/biomedical
terminology (a Rhizoterion). It may be helpful for coinages.
Ephraim Nissan (ONOMATA@BENGUS) informed me of an institute in
Vienna to standardize terminology. He is also working on "a bulky
book about an expert system, ONOMATURGE" for the coinage of new
words in Hebrew. (The book is in English.) If anyone has any
additions, please let me know.

Mark Riley
Sacramento, California