13.0420 computing reviews revised

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Fri Feb 18 2000 - 06:40:12 CUT

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                   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 <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             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
    <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
    maui gratia

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