19.534 (critical) thinking and button pushing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 06:26:18 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 534.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 04 Jan 2006 06:10:30 +0000
         From: "Alexandre L. Solleiro" <thepeck_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: (critical) thinking and button pushing

What would Gutenberg think of the Internet?

You raise indeed a good question, that of "can we entrust our
children with our knowledge?"
History answers it, and reveals that Time solves all. Adoption is
gradual, mistakes are commited.

By my readings of past messages in this group, I understand that you
fear that "ultimate empowerment", through a file and its VR, could be
misachieved: the individual would miss the opportunity, and be in
fact a victim of full individual visibility.
Precisely, then, your question would be "can our children achieve
full understanding of this knowledge, and these tools, that we're passing on?"

I reckon that Humanist Computing (I dare to coin it along with you,
as in this group it is a discipline) is about seeking saturation of
knowledge. What you are trying to achieve is full visibility and
classification of all information, through methods, formats and
protocols. Was it not the objective of the encyclopedia?
Isn't it said that nothing is new? Wasn't it suggested that "nothing
is created, nothing is destroyed, all is transformed"?

As you put in an October discussion, Purpose is what finally
structures all movements. Today's Purpose is empowerment. What
Nietzsche called the "will to power" : every individual masters his
and hers destiny, setting goals and boundaries, reacting and adapting
to environments, moving forward in a round world, living by their
heart. Your discipline aims to achieve by the way of tools what all
humans can achieve by the ways of the mind, and the heart: positioning.

Worry not: even if we achieve, through the Internet, the use of XML
and semantic classification, total transparence, in the end only the
individual's (or the organization's) will to power will set one's destiny.
Keep on working, as only society changes.

"Einstein Deplores Use of Atom Bomb", New York Times, 8/19/46

Cheers to all, have a round 2006!

Alexandre Solleiro
Y2K youth

PS ;

>From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty

>Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 08:21:46 +0000
> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 531.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 08:05:43 +0000
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
> >
>In Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of
>Memory (Princeton, 1995), Ian Hacking takes a close look at the
>process by which often unquestioning practices of measurement have
>legitimated multiple personality and turned it into an object of
>knowledge. Speaking of our modern tools, he observes that,
>/ >We have long had a multitude of highly sophisticated statistical /
>/ >procedures. We now have many statistical software packages. Their /
>/ >power is incredible, but the pioneers of statistical inference would /
>/ >have mixed feelings, for they always insisted that people think /
>/ >before using a routine. In the old days routines took endless hours /
>/ >to apply, so one had to spend a lot of time thinking in order to /
>/ >justify using a routine. Now one enters data and presses a button. /
>/ >One result is that people seem to be cowed into not asking silly /
>/ >questions, such as: What hypothesis are you testing? What /
>/ >distribution is it that you say is not normal? What population are /
>/ >you talking about? Where did this base rate come from? Most /
>/ >important of all: Whose judgments do you use to calibrate scores on /
>/ >your questionnaires? Are those judgments generally agreed to by the /
>/ >qualified experts in the entire community? (p. 111) /
>In building our marvellous tools, do we not run a similar risk in
>proportion to their complexity? In cases where fundamental
>intellectual decisions have been made at root level, then in effect
>hidden away by higher-level processes, this would seem clearly the
>case. Thus I recall an historian once remarking that she never used
>databases constructed by other people because she had found too many
>critical decisions had been made below the level of manipulation. She
>may have been wrong in particular instances not to have trusted good
>work, but it seems to me that her point is well taken. What do we do
>to answer it?
>Hacking is, however, talking more about the power of distraction than
>the effects of concealment or the consequences of effective
>inaccessibility. It is perhaps for his reason that some of us, with
>tongue not entirely in cheek, have praised the user-hostile
>interface: at least a person must think before reaching for that
>mouse. Again, what can we do to answer his point, made at the
>interface of user and computational artifact?
>Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | 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 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Wed Jan 04 2006 - 01:49:34 EST

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