16.658 consumptive humanities

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Sat May 03 2003 - 02:06:14 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 658.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Sat, 03 May 2003 06:53:38 +0100
             From: Alexandre Enkerli <aenkerli@indiana.edu>
             Subject: consumptive humanities

    I'm fairly new to the list and took it to be mostly announcements. But
    Willard's thread seems interesting and I thought I'd jump in. I didn't read
    the whole thread very carefully, though.

    As an introduction, I'm a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology and part-time
    faculty in anthropology. As I'm of "that" generation (being 30 years old),
    computing technologies have been an important part of my life as an
    individual and as an academic. As others, I simply enjoy computers. Which
    does imply that I may sometimes do something in a specific way just because
    it's "neat" in technological terms. I fully realize how dangerous this is,
    but enjoying one's work is a major motivation for going forward.
    Apart from deriving pleasure from computing, I was trained to see computers
    as limits to overcome. One of my early teachers in computer music would
    encourage us to see beyond the preset features towards our own thinking.
    True, the technology does influence our thinking but, in a creative
    process, this influence is simply part of the whole scheme.
    Because of this attitude, we were able to do everything we wanted by
    "hacking" our way through it but didn't necessarily learn programming
    languages. Programming is a very specific process and some languages may
    impose strict constraints on the way we think. But hacking things together,
    while time-consuming, is more likely to be integral to our workflow.
    In the current context, students in general need to learn how to use
    computers effectively which does involve understanding the fundamentals of
    how they're programmed, in the broadest possible sense. But they probably
    don't need to become coders and sort binary trees just to finish a term
    paper on Rousseau...

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