16.249 styles of publication

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Sun Oct 06 2002 - 02:20:12 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 249.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 07:18:00 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>
             Subject: gross measurements & stylistics

    Surely Norman Gray is right about *some* papers in physics or mathematics,
    say, taking as long and as much care to write as a book in the humanities
    though they be considerably shorter. And I grant the fact that the
    implications of some very brief, eloquently clear papers may take many
    years to work out -- i.e. I am not saying that papers in the sciences
    always consist of small ideas quickly tossed off. Einstein's 1905 paper on
    special relativity is a pellucidly brilliant example of what we should all
    hope to do: rock the intellectual world by saying something very important
    very simply. Alas, some papers in the humanities consist of small ideas, or
    none, in heavy language laboriously heaved off. But I would suppose that if
    in a given university you compared the average number of publications per
    person per year in, say, physics and English, the number in the former
    would be MUCH greater than in the latter, everything else being equal. That
    was the extent of my claim about rhythm of publication. Does this mean that
    the e-medium by nature better suits the sciences for purposes of serious

    A more interesting question, I think, is whether the e-medium has intrinsic
    qualities that push us in the humanities, quietly but relentlessly, toward
    faster turnaround of shorter papers, i.e. toward a more conversational
    style? Or might we better say, as some have argued, that the e-medium
    represents an opportunity, currently being realized, for a long-suppressed
    or at least unexpressed style to emerge -- in addition, not instead of?


    Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
    Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
    7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk |
    w.mccarty@btinternet.com | www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/

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