[Humanist] 23.564 finding software
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jan 13 07:13:17 CET 2010
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 564.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 18:49:57 -0700
From: Geoffrey Rockwell <geoffrey.rockwell at ualberta.ca>
Subject: Finding Software
On the subject of lists of tools:
There are actually a number of places where you can discover tools.
Others have sent links to some of the lists out there, mentioning for
example DIRT. I have maintained a list of lists at:
What strikes me, however, is how often I hear people calling for a
definitive list of tools despite the existence of well maintained
finding aides like intute (http://www.intute.ac.uk/) that everyone
should know about. I want to propose that the problem is not what we
think it is - that the perfect list of tools will not solve the
problem of discovery and that we will find there are always more lists
Some possible reasons for saying this are:
- The people who want to find tools don't know what they are called
and those who create them don't know what to call them. A
"Collocation" tool might be useful, but would someone new to
humanities computing know it was what they wanted? For that matter, it
isn't even clear that the word tool is right.
- People always prefer to ask someone knowledgeable (or pose a
question on HUMANIST) rather than find a resource and comb through it.
Saves time and is more convivial.
- Those who create lists do so for a purpose and then stop maintaining
them (with a few exceptions that will cease to be maintained if not
funded.) Most lists are therefore more about what someone wanted to
keep track of at a particular time.
- Those who create tools will contribute information to lists for a
while and then get bored and stop maintaining the information. This is
especially true when you have many lists you have to update every time
your tool changes.
- Tools off a list are fairly useless without a lot of context.
Finding one on a list and adapting it to your needs is rarely how
researchers do things.
- What people want from a list is an absence. We want to show is that
there isn't already the tool we imagined because that justifies the
funding to build it. Too much information would spoil the fun.
- The creation of lists is itself an interesting act worthy of study.
The list has its own rhetorical structure and can be a tool for
defining who/what is in and what is out. There will always be another
list as long as there are ambitions.
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