4.1040 Rs: Terminology for What We Do (2/66)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 15 Feb 91 14:15:03 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1040. Friday, 15 Feb 1991.

(1) Date: Thu, 14 Feb 1991 20:57 MST (53 lines)
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.1029 Queries

(2) Date: Fri, 15 Feb 91 11:19:43 EST (13 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.1029 Queries

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 1991 20:57 MST
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.1029 Queries (6/88)

In reply to Willard McCarty re: terminology, he suggests the adoption
into English of the term "informatics." Since the University of Utah has
graduate degree programs in a field called "Medical Informatics," my
quick opinion is that the term is already in English.

Medical Informatics, as I understand it, refers to cognitive science
understandings of how doctors make decisions such as diagnoses, and how
such decision making might be enhanced with the aid of computer
programming. For example, if there is independent knowledge of
frequency rates of Diagnosis A compared with Diagnosis B, and patient X
shows some of A and some of B, then computer-assistance would help
provide information on the probabilities of each diagnosis and the
consequences of each diagnostic call, such that a de- cision to treat
might be based on the criticality of using medicine Q early in the
course of A while the same medication would do no harm if the disease is
really B.

Having earned a living as a statistician for a while, quantitative
studies of texts, and chi-square tables, seem ludicrous sometimes.
However, if having encoded texts, and done frequency studies, and found
"differences that make a difference,"--if having done these things, we
then develop algorithms that tell us where the usual meaningful
differences might be, then we could be beginning an informatics.

For example, I participate in a seminar on Discourse Analysis of texts,
most of them in Hebrew, one in German. We are currently tackling
Hopper's ideas of emergent grammar, and Du Bois on `preferred argument
structure.' We are fascinated with what we are discovering about the
usages of Biblical Hebrew verbs in Discourse. There are a lot of ifs
involved, but IF I had access to Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia [BHS]
text on the computer, and IF I had as a tool a computer program that
identified probable verbs, and IF I could then interact with the program
to say `yes, no, or maybe [i.e. hold on to this one till later],' I then
might have more time to look at how the verbs interact with their
surroundings; i.e., are the dream sequences in Genesis 37 identified
with different verb forms from their narrative surroundings?

If I then fed this information into a hermeneutical [translation]
program, would I have utilized hermeneutical informatics? It is the
unsayability of those last two words that is my major reservation about
the appropriation by humanists of the term `informatics.'

Sigrid Peterson
University of Utah


(2) --------------------------------------------------------------19----
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 91 11:19:43 EST
Subject: Re: 4.1029 Queries (6/88)

In answer to Willard McCarthy's query about naming what we do. I think
the basic principle of linking the two fields in a simple way is best,
e.g. Computers and Linguistics, Ethnography of [and] Technology.
Actually I think Computational Musicology might be a term in circulation
lately, but it seems very limiting, I agree. Basically I prefer a clean
syndetic label.

Randal baier
Cornell Univesity