10.0378 play, politics, policy

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 20:16:25 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 378.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "John W. Marshall" <jwm@phoenix.Princeton.EDU> (20)
Subject: Re: 10.0373 computers, play, and e-publishing

I was personally apalled by the posting from (presumably a person at) the
"Attachment Research Center" emphasizing the need for an infant
to have a stable attachment to "his mother." While most of the offense I
take proceeds from the disjuncture between my own politics and the gender
specificity of the posting with regards to the roles of parents and the
ideal gender of and infant (male), I am moved to write to our group
because of the effectively anonymous source of the posting. If we are to
be a community discussing issues, including those which occasionaly
stray from our common focus of electronic technologies and the
humanities, let's be a community of people.

_Who_ wrote from the "Attachment Research Center?" The issue of
identification and anonymity is relevent beyond a tangential discussion
of child-raising practices and so my request is that we be a community of
people identifying ourselves by name and (but not or) institutional

John W. Marshall
Princeton University

[Editorial note. If at all possible, I publish everything sent by members
of Humanist, and some things from elsewhere. So although the above might,
in less generous company, provoke flaming war, my guess is that it won't
here. Two points, if I may. (1) All politics make for interesting study,
but in a multicultural, international setting it seems to me that one has
to be willing to see one's own opinions and remarks as possibly less than
universally true and so couch them in those terms. (2) Humanist usually
does follow the convention that the author of a note should identify
him- or herself by name. Mr. Marshall is quite right -- this is a
community of individuals. I slipped up in not asking the author of the
note in question for his or her identity, for which I apologise. Many
current Humanists could hardly be expected to know this convention, which
as far as I am aware has not been discussed in years, so the fault really
is mine. Finally, allow me to return us to the reason for talking about
children's play in the first place, which was to ask, what can we as
computing humanists (rather than fond parents or child psychologists or
whatever else) learn from studies of children's play? Can we, for example,
say that all pieces of software might usefully be seen as analogous to
one's mother, father, or other caring entity, and that our behaviour with
software is analogous to a child's recursive process of separation from a
secure base and return to it? --WM]