4.1045 Planning Issues & more (1/24)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Sun, 17 Feb 91 20:01:11 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1045. Sunday, 17 Feb 1991.

Date: 15 Feb 91 17:55:22 EST
Subject: 4.1041 Rs: Planning Humanities Computing (2/35)

With thanks for comments, I would say that Prof. Norm Coombs says better
what I was trying to say. *If* we hypostasize research and teaching as
two independent activities (ignoring what it says in the catalogues of
most of our institutions about how interrelated the two are), then
larger, more ambitious, more machine-based projects begin to come to the
center of the table. If you want to use computers to prove that
Shakespeare wrote Plato's dialogues, you want lots of e-texts scanned
and proofread, and you want to run complicated routines that compare and
contrast every manner of factoid. Well and good. But my point is that
most humanities faculty now, and I'm guessing for the next five years,
*don't* do that kind of computer-assisted research. The computer is
rather a Discourse Coherence Manager (if I may say so), helping in a
thousand ways: facilitating our access to libraries, to databases from
which we may get one or two stray items of use, to colleagues on our own
campus and elsewhere -- even helping by smoothing out the non-research
side of life so as to free up more time for research; and then of course
for word processing, spell-checking, etc. By avoiding the automatic and
traditional Research/Instruction division, I would hope to emphasize
that kind of middle-of-the-road, low profile but indispensable and
widely practiced computing, and give it a heftier share of resources
than might otherwise go to glamorous, large, ambitious, utterly
wonderful, but of use to fewer on-campus individuals kinds of projects.

But thanks for comments to several, both on HUMANIST and privately.