13.0307 teething problems

Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 18:06:14 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 307.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 22:59:14 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: eager learners fending for themselves

In the past six months I've reviewed a number of projects in or touching on
humanities computing. Some of these have been encouragingly good, I am
happy to say. Some, however, have not. The situation that bothers me most
is one in which an intelligent, energetic person of good will is simply
left to fend for him- or herself in a university that sees fit to encourage
work in our field but is not actually able to supply the people who can
guide and judge it properly. I would suppose that the situation is only
temporary -- holding true for the next 5 or 10 years, perhaps. The thing
is, quite a number of people can go wrong while we're getting our act

Take the case of a postgraduate/graduate student who is eager to apply
computing to a discipline in the humanities. Suppose the supervisor is in
favour of the project and encourages the student but doesn't have the
knowledge to keep him or her on track. Suppose that there is no one in the
university capable of or willing to take the student on. It's quite
possible for the student to finish his or her project, submit it and then
have the bad/good luck to get me or somebody like me for an external
reviewer. Or worse, not get caught until much later.

Take the case of a lecturer/professor who is enthusiastic, hard-working but
not very knowledgeable technologically, who dabbles in humanities
computing, then expects to get rewarded for doing work that he or she would
never dream of submitting as scholarship in his or her field of origin.
What then? What do we do about innocent or not so innocent dabbling?

I have no proposal, modest or otherwise. Rather I'd like to see some
discussion of how the few of us who know what's what in the field can be
deployed to help out -- which might mean to agitate for universities taking
responsibility. Departments can be reviewed, and are. What about the

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 848 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 848 5081
<Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
maui gratia

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