21.129 two threats

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 07:55:39 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 129.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 07:53:02 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: two threats

The following in a private note to me from Geoffrey Rockwell:

>As for threats I can see two. First, the Google books threat - that the
>larger community (deans and so on) think that humanities computing is
>over once we have 10 millions books online. The second, and more
>subtle, is the threat that computing is, in Heidegger's terms, an
>enframing which hides an encounter with being. In other words that
>engaging through technology blinds us to the possibilities of being
>other than those technological. I'm not sure the failure of one or more
>project to model knowledge (and the knowledge of limitation that comes
>with that) is enough for Heidegger or Ellul. They would say that
>technology fundamentally structures how you encounter the world
>including the interruptions of error type 11 and failures of models.
>Neither, of course, really provide a satisfactory way out, but that
>doesn't lessen the threat.

My response to him was as follows:

>The Google Book threat is just a new form of something that has been
>happening all along, and it is part of the anti-intellectualism that
>has ebbed and flowed for ages. Very serious indeed, but not new, and
>not within the gates. The burrowing into specializations, and so
>becoming blind to the need to connect, is more serious because many
>of our colleagues suffer from its effects, and it's extremely hard
>to combat because reaching out takes so much work unlikely to be
>rewarded. It's an enemy within....
>Heidegger's point as you've articulated it defines the deeper
>intellectual struggle, and so the imperative for a comparative
>epistemology. But though I'm with Steiner about Sein und Zeit, I
>cannot get terribly excited about Heidegger on technology. Yes, we
>imprison ourselves and always have. But bursting through the prison
>gates remains possible, on new terms with new means. Not all
>downhill since palaeolithic man learned to flake stone.



Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/. Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p. 26).
Received on Mon Jun 25 2007 - 03:02:34 EDT

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