4.0471 More on the Necessity of Computers for Faculty (6/146)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 11 Sep 90 23:32:58 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0471. Tuesday, 11 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: 10 Sep 90 21:52:00 EST (13 lines)
From: "HALPORN,JAMES,CLAS" <halpornj@ucs.indiana.edu>
Subject: PCs for Faculty

(2) Date: 10 Sep 90 21:37:52 EST (18 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: computers for faculty

(3) Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 20:12:07 EDT (44 lines)
From: John Rakestraw <JRAKESTR@UGA>
Subject: Re: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

(4) Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 17:41 PDT (9 lines)
From: Daniel Boyarin <BOYARIN@UCBCMSA>
Subject: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

(5) Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 16:35:00 EST (46 lines)
From: Michael Kessler <Michael_Kessler.Hum@mailgate.sfsu.edu>
Subject: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

(6) Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 15:08:12 PDT (16 lines)
From: MTRILEY@CALSTATE (Mark Timothy Riley)
Subject: RE: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 10 Sep 90 21:52:00 EST
From: "HALPORN,JAMES,CLAS" <halpornj@ucs.indiana.edu>
Subject: PCs for Faculty

Jim O'Donnell encouraged me to send this in, and, against my better
judgment, here goes. There used to be a saying in the early days of
computing (the time of the punch cards) in the form of the acronym
GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out). Now, with a computer on many faculty
desks, we have a new acronym (thanks to Jim for his help): GILO:
Garbage In, Landfill Out.

Jim Halporn (Indiana U)

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: 10 Sep 90 21:37:52 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: computers for faculty

Quantity and speed may be enhanced: marginal, though not negligible
goods. The important category is this: as computer-accessible
information increases, there will be more and more kinds of ignorance
that are indefensible. For a student of Greek literature to say
something authoritative a generation ago about the meaning of a word
meant one thing; to say it now absolutely flatly totally requires that
the student have checked the word on the TLG corpus. Many nonsensical
things still get said about Greek words by TLG users; but to fail to
consult TLG and still to deliver your opinion is stupidly irresponsible
(and your article should be rejected for publication). In that precise
sense, the machines are increasingly necessary.

Jim O'Donnell
Classics, U. of Penn.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------50----
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 20:12:07 EDT
From: John Rakestraw <JRAKESTR@UGA>
Subject: Re: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

Ours is a small college--about 40 full-time teaching faculty and about
400 full-time students. Two years ago we initiated a program we call
Computer Focus. We began by providing each faculty member with a
computer and printer, and the next year started providing a similar
set-up to each entering full-time first-year student. We just provided
computers to our second class; two years from now the entire student
body will be equipped.

Of course, a cynic might say that it's merely a gimmick because students
are paying for their computers. It's true that they're paying for them.
However, in the last two years we've begun a transformation from a
campus on which PCs were hardly evident to a campus on which students
and faculty are finding it difficult to remember how we survived without
them. Moreover, there are a couple of rather less obvious reasons for
doing it this way: first, we're all standardized on the same WP and the
same spreadsheet, since we provide one of each with each machine.
Second, the college has said to students (and to faculty) that these
machines are changing the way we live and do our work, and the better we
understand them, the more likely we are to direct at least some of those

We're attempting to assess the changes this program makes to our campus
as we go along. One rather interesting thing that's already emerged
relates to our identity as a women's college. There's some indication
that a computer culture is emerging in the dorms, and at least some of
the literature on women and technology (computers in particular) leads
us to be pleasantly surprised about that.

Will it make us better teachers? We think so. To mention only one
example, I allow students to turn in "papers" on diskette, and I find it
easy to make more sustained comments on them in that form.

This is perhaps more than enough comment on our particular situation. If
anyone wants to discuss it more fully I'd be happy to respond to direct

John Rakestraw
Philosophy and Religious Studies
Wesleyan College, Macon, GA
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------17----
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 17:41 PDT
From: Daniel Boyarin <BOYARIN@UCBCMSA>
Subject: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

I find it hard to imagine that anyone cannot conceive of computers
improving the quliaty of research as well as the quantity. When I use
my cd rom for instance to find me all of the places in the Talmud where
a certain word occurs in combination with another certain word, there is
no doubt in my mind that my research is improved vis-a-vis a hand search.
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------56----
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 16:35:00 EST
From: Michael Kessler <Michael_Kessler.Hum@mailgate.sfsu.edu>
Subject: 4.0464 Computers for Faculty

I do have a question: I recognize that often we are playing with
percentages, i.e. give enough people computers, and some will use them;
but when do we decide that the result is not worth the cost?

Altogether too many computers are sitting in departmental offices and
faculty offices as decorative pieces. I have heard reliably the
following story: a faculty member requested a computer and printer,
which were duly delivered. Unfortunately the technician misplaced the
power cord and forgot in which office he had installed the computer (he
was installing quite a few). He figured that it would not be a problem,
since the person would come by and request a cord. Six weeks later he
was still waiting for the request.

Costs continued: Being neither faculty nor administration, I can speak
to this issue a little differently. I believe that in this day and age
of budget deficits, cutbacks and looming recession, overlooking fat--be
it in plush administrative offices or in granted underused hardware--
means less money elsewhere. This may mean less support personnel or
smaller salary raises. Why do faculty consider learning something new
in public demeaning if they expect their students to do it? Why would
a professor request a Laserwriter of his personal office when there is
one available across the hall for all faculty (and is underutilized)? I
am far more appreciative of the faculty member who makes "do" with a
public machine until his increased knowledge requires the space of his
office (for references, for his own installed software, etc.) than of
the one who will not touch a computer until it is delivered in his

It may be obvious, but those who do invest in equipment for home or
office use are the ones who are most likely to use the newer and better
equipment their school is willing to distribute. Ironically, some of
them were the last ones to ask for that equipment because they did not
think they qualified according to the guidelines handed out by the
computer committee. The track record does mean something.

I am very skeptical about the lack of value of computers for banks. I
remember reading similar articles about keeping the competitive edge,
but I would like to know how much labor costs banks have saved by
installing ATM machines. They are not likely to let you know--something
about letting the cat out of the bag, I suspect.

(6) --------------------------------------------------------------23----
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 15:08:12 PDT
From: MTRILEY@CALSTATE (Mark Timothy Riley)
Subject: RE: 4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty?

In response to Jan Eveleth's note. I think it would be difficult to
show any overall improvement in scholarly work, imrovement due to
computer use. Indeed, there is doubt that computer use has improved
productivity in the service sector in American society as a whole. In
my field, for example (classics), we have an outstanding comuter
resource, the TLG, but I have the impression that only a tiny bit of the
year's work in classics uses the TLG at all. (Most classical work is
still the time-worn "character portrayal in the Aeneid" type of thing.)
It will be years before computers are completely integrated into
humanistic scholarship.

Mark Riley