11.0443 publishing (by hand) & humanist thought

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 5 Dec 1997 21:53:37 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 443.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: "Patrick W. Conner" <pconner@wvu.edu> (14)
Subject: Re: 11.0441 publishing, babies and bathwater

[2] From: Gary Shawver <gshawver@chass.utoronto.ca> (40)
Subject: Re: 11.0441 publishing, babies and bathwater

Date: Thu, 04 Dec 1997 17:26:45 -0500
From: "Patrick W. Conner" <pconner@wvu.edu>
Subject: Re: 11.0441 publishing, babies and bathwater

Chris Floyd wrote:

> There is nothing wrong with playing, but too much of it and you will go blind.

No, you won't. I'm quite sure of that.


Patrick W. Conner
Department of English
P.O. BOX 6296
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6296

phone: (304) 293-3107
e-mail: pconner@wvu.edu
fax: (304) 293-5380

Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 18:34:41 -0500 (EST)
From: Gary Shawver <gshawver@chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 11.0441 publishing, babies and bathwater

>Thus I am saying that the 'moderate means' aspect of internet access is
>contraindicated. That the educated are more likely to take advantage of the
>publishing potential of internet. Furthermore, there are class implications
>where the affluent have the greater tendency to make the double investment
>of hardware and education.

Point taken, though if you can't afford electricity or decent food, and
haven't the basic literacy and numeracy to establish an internet
connection, you're unlikely to be on the internet and even less likely to
publish Web pages.

I do use "publish" loosely because we're talking about, and in, a
post-print medium in which a work is authorized not by some third party but
by its author and, ultimately, by its audience. (Here I'm talking mainly of
the Web, not e-mail.) There are implications both good and bad in this. It
is, however, fundamentally different from the modern, print paradigm of
knowledge production.

>Hold on. Not so fast. There is nothing especially modern about
>"witch-hunts, totalitarianism, and genocide".

Actually, there is. They (and pogroms and the Spanish Inquistion) are very
much tied to ideas of authority and identity which were prevalent hallmarks
of the Renaissance and Modern Age. Perhaps, in my own muzzy-headed way, I'm
suggesting that it would be helpful to question whether we are still living
in the Modern Age, or at least in a Modern Age which sees its self in the
Renaissance and its opposite in the Middle Ages. In the words of another
well-know corporation, perhaps it's time to "think different" about a whole
host of questions, including how to preserve the humanities in a
post-national era of trans-national corporations. The past two decades have
seen the redefinition of the humanities and the rejection (from within the
humanities) of what some have called "the humanist project." How do we who
are concerned with computing in the humanities fit into this?

In another vein, one of the OED's definitions of a humanist is one whose
beliefs are in accordance with

"A pragmatic system of thought introduced by F. C. S. Schiller and William
James which emphasizes that man can only comprehend and investigate what is
with the resources of the human mind, and discounts abstract theorizing;
so, more generally, implying that technological advance must be guided by
awareness of widely understood human needs."

Does this describe the general outlook of this list, especially in regard
to the uses of technology? Or is this only a partial picture at best?
Perhaps we need a neo-scholastic search for the precise nature of human
needs vis-a-vis computer technology.


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