21.040 online resource involves research

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 07:18:48 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 40.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: "Carolyn Guertin" <carolyn.guertin_at_gmail.com> (62)
         Subject: Re: 21.025 online resource involves research

   [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk> (59)
         Subject: understanding online

         Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 06:30:53 +0100
         From: "Carolyn Guertin" <carolyn.guertin_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 21.025 online resource involves research

Thank you all for the helpful resources and pointers so many of you
have given me.

Craig, It is a part of a comprenhensive research project into
transcultural digital media that involves publishing the findings
online. They seem to have decided that the method of publication
cancelled out the work that would form the content. Thanks for the link.


On 5/16/07, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty

           Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 08:02:39 +0100
           From: Craig Bellamy

> > I was wondering if someone could assist me please?
> > I recently had a proposal for a research grant rejected by my
> > institution because (wait for it) my institution tells me that the
> > creation of an online resource (in this case a Website and a wiki)
> > involves no research. Yes, i found it hard to believe they were
> > serious too. Can anyone direct me to an official definition--MLA or
> > otherwise--of online resources writ large for use in my appeal?
Hi Caroline,

This is an interesting problem; one in that I have come across
before. I am not sure exactly what you are trying to do, but in the
Australian system (the one in which I have the most experience), the
creation of an online resources isn't seen as research in itself
unless it somehow advances ICT methods and creates new knowledge
about those methods and the content that is being digitised (if this
makes sense). The project that I am working on here in the UK, ICT
Guides, has some information on this in the UK system.



Dr Craig Bellamy
Research Associate
ICT Guides, AHDS,
King's College, London
26 - 29 Drury Lane
3rd Floor
King's College London
Phone: 020 7848 1976
Carolyn Guertin, PhD
Director, eCreate Lab
Department of English
University of Texas at Arlington
203 Carlisle Hall, Box 19035
Email: <mailto:carolyn.guertin_at_gmail.com>carolyn.guertin_at_gmail.com
         Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 07:09:35 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: understanding online
Ostensible acceptance without understanding is a 
cheat. And we're the ones cheated. Having some 
part of a person's research in digital form is no 
longer a dirty secret to be concealed, indeed we 
exhibit the fact so that we may be considered 
up-to-date. But with some, young (undergraduate 
students) and old (colleagues), a "web page" is 
merely a web page. Anyone can do it, everyone 
does. It may be e-valu-ated with the help of 
widely published criteria as either good or bad, 
but its kind is not questioned. Few ask the 
harder question, what *kind* of knowledge is this 
resource giving me? How is that kind shaped by 
the fact that the resource is online?
Ask yourself, how often is the specifically 
digital scholarship in a digital resource 
described by anyone? An historian comes to a 
technical practitioner, let us say. A long, 
probing conversation, taking place over many 
weeks or months, then ensues. The historian's 
view of his or her original questions and sources 
is profoundly affected. (We know this happens 
from individual testimony.) The technical 
practitioner's understanding of his or her craft 
is likewise affected. Let us say that a brilliant 
piece of work results. (We know this happens 
too.) The resource is put online, historians of 
the period and area flock to it virtually. A 
great success. BUT who writes about the profound 
changes to individuals' understanding of their 
fields? Who studies these effects so that 
anecdotes become evidence for a scholarship *of* 
as well as in the digital medium?
Let us say, perhaps unfairly, that no one, or 
very few, write about these changes. As a result, 
their articulate existence remains only in the 
form of promotional claims made to support some 
ill-understood thing called "ICT". Among 
scholars, among the professors of the 
institutions, the only visible, real aspect of 
the resource is its historical, or literary, or 
linguistic, or whatever kind of scholarship, 
which thus seems to float free of its digital 
instantiation. When the "web page" is mentioned, 
it is only a web page, no different from any 
other, therefore not scholarship, except to 
"content specialists" (another pernicious term), 
who tends not to regard its online existence as 
anything other than a convenience.
I suppose some progress has been made, in the 
sense that the servant is paid, and sometimes 
even fêted. But the servant remains a servant, 
and much quiet damage is done. So much more is 
possible! (I note the postdoc advertised in 
today's lot of Humanist. A good sign.)
Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities
Computing | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/.
Received on Tue May 22 2007 - 02:30:17 EDT

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