4.0464 Computers for Faculty (4/113)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 10 Sep 90 17:38:25 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0464. Monday, 10 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: Sat, 8 Sep 90 14:00:32 MDT (13 lines)
From: "David S. Miall, Department of English" <DMIALL@UALTAVM>
Subject: PCs for faculty

(2) Date: Sat, 08 Sep 90 11:40 PDT (39 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

(3) Date: Fri, 07 Sep 90 15:45 PDT (18 lines)
From: "Vicky A. Walsh" <IMD7VAW@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

(4) Date: Sun, 09 Sep 90 22:37:18 MDT (43 lines)
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 90 14:00:32 MDT
From: "David S. Miall, Department of English" <DMIALL@UALTAVM>
Subject: PCs for faculty

This university [University of Alberta] runs what is called a Capital
Recruitment Fund, which provides new faculty with some $5000-$6000 to
spend on equipping their office. In Arts this has usually meant a
computer. I've just acquired a new 386 with lots of megawham as a
result, to the envy of a couple of colleagues who joined before the Fund
was established. I wonder how many other universities are as
enlightened as this?

Regards, David Miall
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------167---
Date: Sat, 08 Sep 90 11:40 PDT
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

While making no fetish of the computer as an ancillary to one's work,
whatever it may be, certainly it beats even the best of the electronic
typewriters, which I replaced with a little Mac in 1984. That is, for
paperwork and word shuffling. The Historian at Yale, who is quoted
2nd-hand, is saying something rather stupid, even to a non-historian.
The matter is serious, and his remark is quite unserious. That is, has
he thought about the rapid decline in the quality of historiography
itself over the past two decades? Is he not making a judgment about
Stanford, for which is NOT responsible, himself being at Yale, and the
historians there? Is he not giving Administrators an opportunity to
cut down further on faculty support? It is an invidious statement. If
one walks about the Administration Building at UCLA, for example, the
continual upgrading of everything in the offices of administrators is
blatant, from furniture to CPU's, not to speak of secretarial help and
painting and anything that goes to make life comfy. But--try to get a
little MAC for the record keeping of the single most importan t Faculty
Committee, the committee that selects the membership of all the other
committees, and you cannot get an allocation of 2000$! When Governor
Brown, that good Democrat was cutting the UC system to the bone,
the Administration was getting new wall to wall carpeting in its
offices. I saw it all, and remember it all, and am not blind to what is
blatant. For Faculty in the Humanities at UCLA, one had to wait 3-5
years to get a word processor, because the machines were available only
as gifts! from IBM and Apple.... If you look at the quality of the books
being published by most university presses, you will also see that they
are not measurable improved by any standards, whether or not they were
produced with processors, and who knows about that? The catalogues and
the books are really mostly amusing and a bit shocking. That historian
was talking about his discipline, not computers. If he was saying, They
wont improve with or without computers to help, he was saying something
different than, say, You wont make better history out of poor
historians, which I take it to mean is a self-criticism of his own
students too. Perhaps he was getting after Cliometricians? At any
rate, it was a foolish, irresponsible thing to have said to anyone,
especially to Administration, if he did say it. Kessler at UCLA
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------81----
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 90 15:45 PDT
From: "Vicky A. Walsh" <IMD7VAW@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

I can only speak for UCLA and then only for those cases I know about,
but... many faculty who are being recruited ask if a computer will be
available to them and insist upon one if they can. Other faculty are
VERY reluctant to spend their own money on computers and are thrilled
when we give them one. I have seem some projects go to publication that
would still be on 3x5 cards if not for computers and some people who
have gone from word processing to sophisticated computing because they
were given one for their office. Not all move so quickly, of course,
and I haven't done a formal study but we have been very pleased with the
results we've seen here. It is hard to judge the overall contribution
of computers to prestige etc. but if it helps recruit the best then it
will contribute to the overall advancement of the dept.

Vicky Walsh, UCLA Humanities Computing
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------50----
Date: Sun, 09 Sep 90 22:37:18 MDT
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Re: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

Jan Eveleth wonders if computers really do improve the quality of
research, then goes on to assert that computers are really essential in
a modern university. I believe the answer is no to the first and yes to
the second.

A number of professors have told me that they are able to produce MORE,
but none have said they can produce better research because of their
computer. Many of the scientists do say that certain types of projects
simply would not have happened without personal computers, but this
really only means that other types would have happened in their stead.

Still, PCs are essential. I recall hearing a news story two or three
years ago about automated services in the banking industry. The
reporter talked to a number of large banks about the huge capital
investments they were making in computerizing their banking services.
The question was, did these services improve the bank's competetive
edge? The answer was invariably, no. The reporter asked why the bank
would sink so much money into a technology that did not bring increased
profits. The answer was the same at each bank: the investment was not
to improve but to preserve their edge.

Universities must continue to provide computing services to their faculty
simply because it has become a necessary tool and an expected tool. If a
university stops this kind of funding it will lose faculty, plain and
simple. And I do believe that the PCs will make a qualitative difference.
I believe they will make a difference out here in the tertiary schools
with few on-site resources. As our faculty get connected, and as
libraries and archives become digitized, being located at Yale (to pick
a school at random <g>) will become less important than once it was.
PCs may not improve YOUR quality, but they will improve OURS. And the
entire scholarly community will benefit. AND it will be the humanities
that benefit more strikingly than the sciences.

Ellis 'Skip' Knox, Ph.D.
Historian, Data Center Associate
Boise State University DUSKNOX@IDBSU.IDBSU.EDU
Boise, Idaho 83725
(208) 385-1315