16.511 data-modelling; rapid prototyping?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Feb 27 2003 - 03:01:17 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 511.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: Norman Hinton <hinton@springnet1.com> (6)
             Subject: Re: 16.509 data modelling for a history of the book?

       [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> (27)
             Subject: complex, labour-intensive data models

             Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 07:35:36 +0000
             From: Norman Hinton <hinton@springnet1.com>
             Subject: Re: 16.509 data modelling for a history of the book?

    Willard, I'd certainly include 'theme' or 'subject' or 'type' of book -- it
    would be very useful to have handy available data on which booksellers
    (etc.) tended to handle which sort of books.

    As far as color, illustrations, etc.....I think much of this is already in
    many bibliographical analyses, isn't it ? I tend to think of that
    information as clogging up the db somewhat. But then it depends on what
    you want the db for, doesn't it ?

             Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 07:56:26 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: complex, labour-intensive data models

    Thinking further from my question, about modelling the history of the book,
    I am wondering along the lines suggested by the remark of a somewhat
    annoyed student a couple of years ago. I had been trying to convince her, a
    postgraduate in history, that relational database modelling was a Good
    Thing. She commented that in her experience databases of historical data
    tended to be so profoundly shaped by the interests of the makers that she
    found them useless for research. This criticism would, of course, also
    apply to any large computing project and, I suppose, points to an
    unavoidable problem: the more labour-intensive something like that becomes,
    the more monumental (less politely, dinosaur-like) the result. Hence the
    importance of prototyping.

    Some years back I recall various universities in N America investing in
    "rapid prototyping" laboratories, where a person with an idea could see it
    take prototypical shape quickly, then use the result to argue for the
    support required to build the full thing. Whatever happened to the idea of
    rapid prototyping? Is it fair to say that the development of computational
    tools has or is inevitably shifting the ability to prototype toward the
    ordinary user?

    We tell our students here at King's College London to think of their
    projects as prototypes -- so that they can consciously engage with genuine
    research but at a simpler level within the brief amount of time that they have.



    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

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