12.0123 ALLC/ACH 1998 reflections

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 10 Jul 1998 15:54:59 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 123.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 16:35:04 +0200
From: Dita <dita1@freemail.c3.hu>
Subject: reflections on ALLC/ACH 98

Dear Colleagues:

It is mid afternoon following the conclusion of the ALLC/ACH 1998 conference
in Debrecen, Hungary, at Lajos Kossuth University. Most of the delegates
have left already for the train west to Budapest, about 2 1/2 hours away,
and then the airport. This is not a proper conference report, which I hope
to publish here in a few days' time, rather an attempt to capture some
fleeting thoughts about the event and the community it represents before
ordinary life takes over and these are lost.

The first observation is what a fine conference this was, superbly put on by
the local organiser, Laszlo Hunyadi, and his team, including several
undergraduate students. As John Unsworth (local organiser for ACH/ALLC 99 at
the University of Virginia) said, Professor Hunyadi and company have placed
the bar very high. This is not to speak only of efficiency, rather more
about the thoughtful care manifested in every aspect of the local

The second observation is that having Father Roberto Busa at the conference
itself made the trip more than worthwhile. He was here to deliver the
keynote address as the first recipient of the new Busa Award, named in his
honour, for significant contributions to the field of humanities computing.
What a delight his company was!

The third sums up the first two. If the ALLC/ACH is a reliable indicator --
I think it must be -- we are part of a truly remarkable community of people.
Years ago Allen Renear (STG, Brown) said to me that he found the humanities
computing crowd the most intellectually stimulating group of people he had
ever had the privilege to associate with. My experience is the same. Looking
around at the people gathered here for these last few days I was reminded of
Allen's remark, but more than that, of the communal qualities we seem to
have developed. Perhaps the harmony I sense is in part due to the fact that
in the scale of the mighty we do not make much of a difference -- there's no
pot of gold to compete for, and so we are not minded to do each other in. I
prefer to think, however, that there's a nobler cause, namely that we do
what we do largely for the love of it. "Do what you do only out of love" is,
I recall, a Hebrew proverb, one worth writing out and sticking on the wall.
However little it may contribute to the progress of our scholarship, I think
that sensing its rootedness in such humane intellectual passion as I have
seen at play here is worth more than a moment's notice. Why else do

Yours from Debrecen,

Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>