18.562 new on WWW: Innovation; B.C. Smith on what is digital

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 08:01:18 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 562.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: "James L. Morrison" <morrison_at_unc.edu> (64)
         Subject: February/March Issue of Innovation Now Available

   [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk> (45)
         Subject: B. C. Smith on what is digital

         Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 07:11:07 +0000
         From: "James L. Morrison" <morrison_at_unc.edu>
         Subject: February/March Issue of Innovation Now Available

The February/March 2005 issue of Innovate is now available at

Innovate is a peer-reviewed, bimonthly e-journal published as a public
service by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova
Southeastern University. It features creative practices and cutting-edge
research on the use of information technology to enhance education.

We open the issue with a conversation between two Innovate board members.
Elizabeth Hawthorne interviews Seng Chee Tan, who works for the National
Institute of Education in Singapore. Tan describes the IT masterplans that
generously supply public schools there with hardware and software, teachers
with technology training that emphasizes sound pedagogy, and students with
an incredible range of learning resources.

June Brown, Jan Bryan, and Ted Brown follow with an article on the
expanding concept of literacy in the 21st century. Global, visual,
information, and digital literacy--all are crucial in this era of
connectivity. The authors highlight technology tools and resources that can
help modern students sustain the classical Greek ideal of a community of

Librarians are crucial to student literacy, as Lesley Farmer reminds us.
She examines two administrative roles that will dominate K-12 libraries by
2015: school library media specialist and cybrarian. Tom Peters takes us
away from school settings to the world of online public libraries. In an
interview with me, he discusses LibraryCity--an ambitious effort to make
thousands of e-books available to an interactive global readership.

We all know that information and communication technologies have measurable
effects on teaching and learning. Bruce Ingraham argues that ICT could also
change traditional scholarly discourse. In a thoughtful analysis, Ingraham
suggests how the academic community might create, disseminate, and evaluate
scholarship in multimedia forms.

Technologically savvy scholars are a unique resource for their academic
departments. Colleen Reilly enumerates the benefits of having "faculty
peers" conduct workshops and support technology use among their colleagues.
This kind of work can be part of routine faculty tasks, Reilly says--and it
should count in tenure and promotion considerations. Nikki Finlay would be
an admirable faculty peer for teaching colleagues how to use mimio
boardCast. Based on experiences in her online and on-campus macroeconomics
courses, Finlay touts the software as a useful graphing tool and lists its
advantages over similar programs.

Joseph Ugoretz identifies an unlikely source for productive learning in
online classes: digression in asynchronous discussions. According to
Ugoretz, digression can lead to far-reaching, active learning experiences
that may prove even more valuable than the intended dialogue.

Our final offering is the first column in a new series by Stephen Downes.
In "Places to Go," Downes will review Web sites that promote and/or
exemplify creative uses of IT in teaching and learning. His first choice is
IncSub, a site dedicated to open-source content management systems and
learning support tools.

Logging on is simple--but we invite you to do more than simply read. Use
the journal's one-button features to comment on articles, share material
with colleagues and friends, easily obtain related articles, and
participate in Innovate-Live webcasts and discussion forums. Join us in
exploring the best uses of technology to improve the ways we think, learn,
and live.

Please forward this announcement to appropriate mailing lists and to
colleagues who want to use IT tools to advance their work.

Many thanks.


James L. Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill
         Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 07:42:48 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: B. C. Smith on what is digital
On Monday, Brian Cantwell Smith gave a talk for the Library of Congress
series, The Digital Future, entitled, "And is this stuff really digital
after all?", on the meaning of "digital" and its implications for the
present and future of computing. The talk is archived at
http://www.c-span.org/congress/digitalfuture.asp and is well worth the time
and trouble that watching and listening to such an event on one's computer
implies. Smith has written a couple of things that I regard as essential
reading: (1) "The Limits of Correctness in Computers." In Computers, Ethics
& Social Values. Ed. Deborah G. Johnson and Helen Nissenbaum. 456-69.
Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995 (available from the ACM Digital
Library in its original form, published in 1985), in which he makes a
strong argument for the essential role of modelling in computing systems;
and (2) "Foundations of Computing." In Computationalism: New Directions.
Ed. Matthias Scheutz. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2002 (available now from
in which he takes up among other things the problem of formality).
Smith is a bit of an intellectual renegade, whose work does not quite fit
into any of the usual categories, and perhaps for that reason tends to have
an interesting and irregular publishing history. His book, On the Origin of
Objects, I've found less successful than (2), which as he says is distilled
from a series of books whose metaphysical territory is introduced by
Origin. In the recent talk he mentions other work that he's written but not
published because he says that he doesn't fully understand the subject.
There's a real sense of struggle in his work, but to be imaginatively
present at this struggle is in my experience worth more than many finished
and polished books on philosophical aspects of computing and the territory
beyond. I sometimes wish he'd be less restrained.
Anyhow, do seek out and listen to the talk. If you know the fellow, put
pressure on him to publish it. This from his Feyerabendian conclusion,
jotted down in my notes:
 >"The digital future rests not on the future being digital, rather what it
 >rests on is a future that rests on a digital substrate at an invisible
 >level". So, the real project. Use the computer as a foil to start over, to
 >make a world that has no commitment to formality, rationality, any scheme
 >at all. All those things are discrete, digital notions. Exploit the
 >computer to re-enchant the world; unify "matter" and "mattering";
 >transcend 300 years of "mechanical philosophy". Digital notions are a
 >mistake. Live complex, erruptive lives. Carry on our indiscrete affairs.
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Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7 Arundel Street | London
WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax: -2980 ||
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Received on Thu Feb 03 2005 - 03:49:39 EST

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