Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 420.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 06:33:23 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: computing reviews revised
Thanks to Stephen Miller and Fotis Jannidis for the references to reviews.
What I had in mind, however, was something of a "higher" level, that is,
narrative reviews of work in various fields of the humanities undertaken
e.g. by a journal on an annual basis, or de facto adumbrated by sessions at
annual conferences. My question (clarified and rephrased!) was, to what
extent are scholarly societies and other academic organisations reviewing
related work in computing?
It should be obvious to anyone that the job of reviewing work in or closely
related to humanities computing is an impossible task for a single
individual or organisation. If it is to be done -- the need is great -- my
guess is that it has to be done at the disciplinary level, and very likely
at a lower level than that because of the number of languages and problems
of physical accessibility. The biggest problem I see is that one cannot
depend on any set of keywords picking out even a high percentage of
relevant items from their titles. Most relevant work is done, I'd guess, by
scholars who use computing for an end defined by the discipline of
application, and so if they mention computing at all, it will only be in
passing. To catch the discussion one has to read the article!
Then there's the problem of summarising where computing is headed, which
means not only reading but inwardly digesting the contents. That's a most
important step -- which, I would think, for each area of study needs to be
taken by a computing humanist in that area.
We often notice, and more often ignore, the rich tradition in which we
work, a tradition that gets richer every year. Some of us occasionally
thrash about trying, mostly in vain, to get a handle on what is happening
beyond the convenient confines of ACH/ALLC and whatever other scholarly
organisations we may belong to. A reasonable guess is that we're missing a
significant amount of work directly relevant to what we do, since
humanities computing is no respecter of disciplinary boundaries. (Loud
cheers!) What's the solution?
So my question: within the national academies, scholarly societies, funding
organisations &al. is a solution in progress, however haphazardly? Will
someday soon a URL take us where we want to go today? If the corporate
scholarly mind is not in fact getting its act together, then perhaps the
various senior people in a position to start something should?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 848 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 848 5081
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