Home About Subscribe Search Member Area

Humanist Discussion Group

< Back to Volume 33

Humanist Archives: April 3, 2020, 8:19 a.m. Humanist 33.724 - a mosaic of relations

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 724.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-04-02 14:06:29+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: Perlis' mosaic

Almost precisely 18 years ago, in a meeting called by the much-missed
Antonio Zampolli in Pisa, those assembled were commissioned to think
through a "roadmap" for humanities computing, as the field was then
called. In preparation for this meeting, Harold Short and I came up with
a diagram proposing a "methodological commons" that attempted to show
the many relations and dependencies of our field with all the others,
including the natural sciences. This diagram later appeared in
Humanities Computing (2005, rpt. 2014), p. 119. At least one
alternative, proposed by Geoffrey Rockwell, followed. I attach the
handout Harold and I produced for Zampolli's meeting with the much
improved diagram as it appeared in the 2005 book.

Although I read a great deal of the writings by early computer
scientists agonising over the identity of their field, I missed Alan
Perlis' "Computer science and mathematics", from a panel of the
Conference  Board  of  the Mathematical  Sciences (also attached). In
it, as you'll see, is (to my mind) a much more fruitful diagram of "the
cybernetic dialogue" relating computer scientists to their concerns with
machines (engineering), language (software) and algorithms
(mathematics). As he notes, this lozenge is the beginning of a tiling.
"In short," he writes, "the cybernetic dialogue invokes a continual
mosaic of involvements with this quartet: the human being, algorithms,
language and machines."

What I like about Perlis' lozenge is the focus on objects of thought. I
suspect that attempts to produce an analogous geometrical shape for
digital humanities would require the talents of a topologist. Anyone
here tempted to have a go?

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)

2002. McCarty and Short, An intellectual map of humanities computing.pdf: https://dhhumanist.org/att/92922/att00/ 
1970. Traub, Forsythe, Galler, Hartmanis and Perlis, Computer science and mathematics.pdf: https://dhhumanist.org/att/92922/att01/ 

Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted
List posts to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org
Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/
Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php

Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

This site is maintained under a service level agreement by King's Digital Lab.