8.0287 Avoiding Neglect (1/40)

Tue, 1 Nov 1994 00:08:15 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 8, No. 0287. Tuesday, 1 Nov 1994.

Date: Sun, 30 Oct 94 14:55:03 -0500
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (Willard McCarty)
Subject: avoiding both neglect & the hemlock

Nigel Spivey begins and ends a review in the TLS for 21 October [*] by
addressing the current dilemma of archaeology: "to attempt seriousness in
the face of demands to strut its glitzy treasures". His conclusion is, I
think, worth the attention of us all. Referring to the books under review,
he writes,

The wider public, whom these studies ought to concern, is not privy
to the seminar or the conference hall, and will not have its nose pressed
against maps covered in black dots. The risk is not that academic
may end itself by compromising with the public appetite for objects,
but quite the opposite -- that we lose all support in the trails of our
own jargon. We must prove that we can turn to the world without
capitulating to it.

Are we not in a position to help here? It seems to me that computing
humanists are at that point in the revolutionary cycle of scholarship where
the data (text, picture, or other kind) once again predominates and fresh
explanations are called for. In the newness of what we are attempting, do
we not have a significant opportunity to address matters so basic and
important that even those "not privy to the seminar or conference hall" will
want to hear about them? Furthermore, humanities computing is distinguished
(or tainted, depending on your point of view) by a necessary connection to
the "real world", which produces the systems, drives their primary
applications, and is the destination for most of our students, increasingly
even those with advanced degrees. It is arguable that when we are doing our
job well, we bridge the worlds.


Willard McCarty

*rev. of Ian Morris, ed., Classical Greece: Ancient histories and modern
archaeologies (Cambridge); and Colin Renfrew and Ezra B. W. Zubrow, eds.,
Elements of cognitive archaeology (Cambridge), p. 11.