6.0013 Rs: Birthdays, Piazzas, and Jobs for Humanists (3/92)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Sun, 17 May 1992 17:02:27 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0013. Sunday, 17 May 1992.

(1) Date: 14 May 1992, 09:07:49 EST (29 lines)
Subject: Piazzas and stewardship

(2) Date: Thu, 14 May 1992 16:40 EDT (28 lines)
From: "Mary Dee Harris, Language Technology"
Subject: Birthdays and Jobs for Humanists

(3) Date: Fri, 15 May 1992 08:37 +1200 (35 lines)
From: HORN_A@usp.ac.nz
Subject: Birthday dissent

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 14 May 1992, 09:07:49 EST
Subject: Piazzas and stewardship

It is day-time, and I, like most listeners and users of Humanist, am
stressed with extra work to do, in my case mailing out twenty
personalized postcards to advisees so they can come in next week, then
reading galley proofs on the journal I edit (and the first article is
not at all in MLA style!). But I do like Willard's image of our talking
with each other in the piazza, about anything important that comes up,
and I do like Jim O'Donnell's idea that we need to say more in a shorter
space, in this horrible age so full of information. My training in
technical writing and business corresponence comes up: "Keep It Simple,
Stupid," and "Don't waste the reader's time." Readers of Humanist no
longer have any time to relax, much less waste, but we still need the
community of intelligent commentators, and we still need the accidental
touching this list may provide. In my mind's eye I see friends in
Florence, on the Via Calzaioli (the Piazza Signoria was torn up for
excavation), just talking vehemently, not idly, not stupidly, and not
wasting anybody's time, about important things. Which brings up
stewardship, which to me is a word with religious and ecological and
educational overtones: we are stewards of our body according to one
church or another, and thus we should not hurt it with drugs or
overeating; we are stewards of the earth, because we do not in any sense
*own* it, yet we are obligated to take care of it, lest it die; and we
academics are stewards of knowledge, because again we do not own it, we
merely pass it on, and we encourage ourselves to think of the
transmission of knowledge as *free*--as in a piazza. Roy Flannagan
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------39----
Date: Thu, 14 May 1992 16:40 EDT
From: "Mary Dee Harris, Language Technology" <MDHARRIS@guvax.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Birthdays and Jobs for Humanists

After reading the musings about Humanist's birthday, I am prompted to
share a bit of information that I found interesting. I am currently
involved in a project for the US Army called the Data Standardization
project, which includes attempts to standardize the names for data
elements in all the various databases used by the Army. The problem
of course comes from the fact that many of these databases were
written by ADP folks with little contact with the 'functional' types
(they're the ones who know how to do things). The current effort
includes the creation of a list of standard data elements with
reasonable names that can be used by everyone. (One amazing example
of an existing data element name referring to 'military personnel' was
'column 8', and that's just the start of the problems.

A part of this work was contracted out to IBM. Guess who they
are hiring to do the work of developing names for the standardized
lists? English majors! They won't hire computer types because they
have the wrong attitude so they hire people who know language and can
see parallels in meaning, even though (or because) they don't know the
functional side.

So folks, humanists can make a difference in the 'real' world.

Mary Dee Harris
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------47----
Date: Fri, 15 May 1992 08:37 +1200
From: HORN_A@usp.ac.nz
Subject: Birthday dissent

Subject: Birthday Message

Felicitations on _Humanist's_ birthday. Please do excuse my loyal
dissent on the Birthday Message.

This University serves 12 small and scattered island states here in the
wide Pacific sea. Because we're so far from the generators of most
bulletin boards, lists and e-journals, our monthly email telephone bill
is titanic. The hard-pressed Bursar has, therefore, permitted my
Departmentr only two subscriptions--to _Humanist_ and to
_Postmodern Culture_. In edited form, these get distributed by both
internal email and photocopy. We chose _Humanist_ because it has
the broadest range. From you we get not only superbly useful debates
and information on software, hardware and resources, but cultural,
literary, linguistic, historical, philosophical queries and discussions. It
is the only such edited list available. We, at least, would be most
saddened if _Humanist_ were to restrict itself, as proposed by the
editors, only to matters of computing.

Bula vinaka,

Andrew Horn
The Department of Literature & Language
The University of the South Pacific
G.P.O. Box 1168 email: horn_a.usp.ac.nz
Suva fax: (679) 305-053
Republic of FIJI office tel: (679)