11.0185 Online items

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 19:58:23 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 185.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 19:44:18 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: Online items

>From the Guardian Online section for today, for which see

(1) Jack Schofield, "Man and Supercomputer", reviewing Charles J Murray,
<cite>The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards
behind the Supercomputer</cite>. Brilliant, eccentric, insufferable seem to
be the adjectives for the man. What's professionally interesting is the
epitaphizing of the supercomputer: now a thing of the past because (a) the
US government is no longer willing to pay the huge price-tags to underwrite
development and to purchase these things, and (b) many supercomputing needs
can be met by off-the-shelf chips. Once upon a time, even at universities
where much greater needs went begging, such machines were bought, staff
hired to manage them and to spend their time looking for customers whose
work could justify the huge expenditures. There were or still are schemes to
do supercomputing by means of paralleling individual workstations. Are these
still current?

(2) Douglas Rushkoff, "The plug that was waiting to be pulled", on the
disasters that result from centralisation of key Internet components, such
as the DNS list maintained by Network Solutions (U.S.). As most of you will
likely know, a massive DNS failure caused by distribution of a corrupted
list crippled the Internet recently. "The answer, of course, is to limit or
altogether eliminate these high-leverage points in the global Internet. The
less important any particular cable or server, the less damage will be done
in any single accident.... As David Holtzman, senior vice president at
Network Solutions boasted last month about one of his name servers, 'if you
pull the plug out of the back of this baby, everything on the Internet would
die in about two days.'" A fascinating collision of social models, in which
we find ourselves on the side of the US government, with its deregulatory
stance against the centralising tendencies of big business.

(3) Jack Scofield, "Netwatch".
a. The report that the entire higher education community in the U.K. has
been waiting for, from the committee chaired by Sir Ron Dearing, published
simultaneously on paper and on the Web, at
b. European Museum Guide 1997-98, <http://www.museumguide.com/>.
c. Fish4it.com, which chooses a random site based on keywords or established
special topics, <http://www.fish4it.com>.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk

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