21.326 a room too small

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 07:34:05 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 326.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 07:29:13 +0000
         From: Neven Jovanovic <neven.jovanovic_at_ffzg.hr>
         Subject: Re: 21.320 a room too small


allow me to counter your gardening analogy with a real-life story. The
(Eastern European, non-EU member) university where I am employed decided
to switch to digital, centralized accounting of all things
student-related. But my part of this university -- the Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences -- has this system where you can study two
main programmes (e. g. Latin and Comparative Literature) in parallel --
*any* two of more than thirty the Faculty is currently offering. At the
same time, the study programmes have undergone a thorough revision (to be
transformed in accordance with the Bologna process).

Theoretically speaking, digital administration of an institution is a
banal, almost trivial task. You define a set of rules and apply these
rules to data in the databases.

Practically -- it has proven quite a challenge. In fact, we are in the
middle of a chaos now, where more than 50% of my first-year students have
some error in their administrative records, with very little means of
getting these errors fixed (apart from the old, not-by-defined-rule,
manual way).

I want to say that yes, basically, or theoretically, the wonderful plant
is a product of the same (sort of) seed from which less-than-wonderful
plants are nurtured -- but the actual number of variables, of unknown
factors, and their interactions, and *skills* required for nurturing, all
of this very soon exceeds the actual power of... computing, or

We may *imagine* that an uninformed reading is basically the same as a
perfect reading, but, to imagine it, we have to leave out very, very much.



Neven Jovanovic
Zagreb, Croatia
Received on Wed Oct 31 2007 - 02:52:25 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Wed Oct 31 2007 - 02:52:26 EST