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Humanist Archives: Oct. 9, 2019, 10:51 a.m. Humanist 33.306 - what are we not ready for?

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 306.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
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        Date: 2019-10-09 09:32:28+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: what are we not ready for?

In a typically wonderful introduction to Moore and Dunham's Joint
Attention: Its Origins and Role in Development (2014), the cognitive
psychologist Jerome Bruner takes up the problem of how infants come to
share knowledge with adults, or as he entitles his piece, "From Joint
Attention to the Meeting of Minds". He remarks that, "Indeed, so
powerful are these reciprocal human patterns of intentional action that
they even seem to 'humanize' young chimpanzees, at least Pan paniscus."
Then the remark that jolted me into writing this note: "But we had
better postpone that issue, for we are not quite ready for it yet."

There is value beyond the rhetorical for bringing up a subject, such as
cognitive coordination on this level with chimps, and then drawing back
from it because one's field is not, as he says, "quite ready for it
yet." A somewhat cruder way of putting it is to spell out a "grand
challenge", but let that one go. My question for here is, following
Bruner, for what are we not ready? And, if not much of a stimulating as
well as practical nature comes to mind, how do we find out? (Hint, 
likely unnecessary: other disciplines can help a lot.)

You may have noticed on Humanist this morning that tacked onto the
Jackman Institute's advert for a postdoc, following the service-
orientated functions of the person who is appointed, is the duty or 
opportunity to fulfil "a broader agenda that also encompasses 
interpretative or theoretical work on digitality, and a wide variety 
of computational approaches to humanities research." Here is a very 
welcome hint of an all-too-seldom look into unexplored reaches of 
digital humanities. Service as descibed is a good way to get a leg up, 
as I know from my own experience. But there is so much more that 
doesn't involve being helpful to the older disciplines, however 
politically strategic that may be.



Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org)

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