14.0587 cognitive effects of formatting?

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 01/11/01

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 587.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
             Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 07:49:31 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: cognitive effects of formatting?
    I would be most grateful for a pointer to what Humanists consider the best
    treatment of the relationship between how data is presented and how we
    think about those data -- i.e. the cognitive, intellectual consequences of
    formatting. Perhaps the most obvious example is the KWIC concordance, which
    by centering the target word draws the user's attention to its linguistic
    environment -- in a way that presentation by phrase or other literary or
    linguistic unit in the hand-built concordance does not. We tend, I think,
    to dismiss such apparently trivial matters as sorting or reformatting,
    paying attention rather to complicated transformations of data, esp those
    involving substantial amounts of &quot;computation&quot;. I suspect,
    however, that one could make a powerful argument to the effect that in the
    humanities the profound changes attributable to computing follow from some
    of the simplest causes, such as the ability to sort a list of words or
    retrieve different bits of the data in a different order. (I mean here
    *conceptually simple* causes; sorting, for example, can require very
    sophisticated, complex programming.)
    Many thanks.
    Dr Willard McCarty / Senior Lecturer /
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities / King's College London /
    Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/

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