10.0569 disciplined training in humanities computing

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 7 Jan 1997 20:22:58 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 569.
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: orlandi@rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it (42)
Subject: disciplined training

Re "disciplined training & wild-siding" [10.0565, MacCarty],

It happens that just in these days I am trying to configure
a curriculum for hum. computing in my Faculty (Roma La
Sapienza, Lettere). Of course the problems in Italy are
different from, say, UK or Canada, but sharing them may
prove useful for others.

First, we have to be independent form engineers and
mathematicians, who try to monopolize the field [e.g.
"analysis of literal (sic) texts" in one engineering
curriculum...]; thus I avoid the term "computing"
[informatica] and I prefer "multimedia", admittedly
inflated but with a humanistic flavor. Multimedia means
after all any kind of communication (and what is humanities
if not communication with the past etc.?) _not on paper
and print or ... manuscripture_.

I think we also should distinguish between a hum. scholar
who employs the new media and somebody whose job is to
help him to use them in the best way. This latter is
the target of our teaching.

For what concerns us, the essential feature of the new
media is _automation_. So a first group of disciplines
should teach our pupils what really is automation, and
how it interacts with traditional methods: one cannot
avoid formal logic, Turing machines, formal languages,
and all that.

Then the pupil should be taught the essential methodologies
in the different fields, viz. how a hum. scholar accesses
and manipulates sources: texts, artifacts, paintings, etc.
He should understand how to formalize such methods,
therefore automatize what can be automatized. In this
field he will learn encoding problems, use of corpora,
DBMS, statistics, etc.; but I would insist in the
principles of all this, rather than existing packages,
which vary with the day, and are always outdated.

Well, this is that for now. Anybody interested?


Tito Orlandi orlandi@rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it
CISADU - Fac. di Lettere Tel. 39.6.4991-3936
P.zale Aldo Moro, 5 Fax 39.6.4991-3945
00185 Roma