11.0286 tools? infrastructure?

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 21:30:28 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 286.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (36)
Subject: primary tools?

[2] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (27)
Subject: distribution of infrastructure?

Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 08:19:56 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: primary tools?

In a recent online article, at
<http://www.microsoft.com/education/hed/comment.htm>, a group that calls
itself the Microsoft Scholars met to discuss the use of technology in higher
education. They informed the leader of the meeting "that there are still
people in the academy who think that technology does not need to be
incorporated into their daily activities (i.e., teaching, research, service
or administration)." Obviously a matter for serious concern [heavy irony].
Motivated by this concern, they then identified the "three areas that
represent the minimum level of skill and knowledge required of every member
of the higher education community (i.e., students, faculty and staff)":
wordprocessing, e-mail and Internet. Nothing very notable here except,
perhaps, for the exercise, which is one I have gone through recently.

Thus my question. It seems to me that we can usefully divide what we teach
into two categories: the "core" skills, which everyone in the humanities
should know whatever the discipline or area, and the more specialised ones.
If we do that, what falls under which category? I would suppose that for us
the former would constitute a longer list than the Scholars enumerated, but
what would it contain? Presuming further that we restrict the scope of the
question to a single university year, what topics would we not include that
we would move, say, to a second year?

Just for purposes of argument, I offer this list:

basic computing concepts spreadsheets
wordprocessing database management
e-communications text-analysis
e-publishing (WWW, HTML &c.) text-encoding
imaging (intro only)
bibliographic management

Even if there were no disagreement over the contents and structure of the
above list, do you think that it would prove unstable over time?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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

Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 08:48:36 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: distribution of infrastructure?

This is a question for those within universities where specialised centres
or units offering support for humanities computing exist alongside other
units that share some of the same interests, e.g. computing centres of the
older type. Where this happens, are there instances in which the former and
the latter have been able to establish a cooperative arrangement that works
well for all concerned, especially the students and academic staff? For
those cases in which the relationship does not work well, what are the
strategies for achieving a successful infrastructure?

One might guess that the state toward which we are progressing is one in
which a centralised service (a.k.a. the computing centre) handles the
networking and e-mail services and discipline- or area-specific academic
centres, as for humanities computing, take care of everything else. In other
words, the former largely disappears from sight, like the water-works, while
the latter handles direct, high-profile involvement with its non-technical
relations on a collegial basis.

Anyone who would like to offer examples and comments but who would prefer to
remain anonymous please indicate this clearly in the submission. (Remember,
no submission is published without your editor's intervention.) I think it
would be very useful indeed to many of us to know which way the winds are
blowing and, if necessary, to have battle with these winds. They are a
strong and elusive but not unconquerable opponent.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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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