[Humanist] 23.576 lists and curating?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jan 17 10:44:32 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 576.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 17:09:31 -0500 (EST)
        From: Francois Lachance <lachance at chass.utoronto.ca>
        Subject: Lists and curating


Geoffrey Rockwell recently invited us to consider the activity of list
making. The question arose in the context of lists of software and the
thread, as it often does, went off into the direction of the fabrication of
tools. I would like to take up Geoffrey's invitation in the context of list
making per se and argue that the humble list should be an important "genre"
in the universe of scholarship.

First allow me to begin via a tangent and to quote Aldous Huxley at the
beginning of <i>Heaven and Hell</i>. He argues for the work of gathering which I take
to be a species of list making (or vice versa). 

However lowly, the work of the collector must be done, before we can proceed to the higher scientific tasks of classification, analysis, experiment and theory making.
I am reminded of the memes that circulate often among blogs, memes that call
for the generation of lists. In observing such list creation behaviour one
comes to understand a list as an itinerary. A list maker is in a sense a map
maker. Huxley's is a fitting beginning to an essay about the transporting
properties of art.

As humble as it may be, list making is an exercise in judgement (choices are
to be made) and it is also an exercise in communicating results (annotations
aim to guide the reader of the list). Lists are not only generated by human
beings they are also beasts of the machines that mine the WWW. 

In a saturated world of creativity lists can be tedious. They can also guide
one to marvellous experiences. I leave you with one example (and in so doing
begin a list)


A mashup called "Meta presentation" posted to YouTube by someone going under
the handle zzthex. It's a mashup of lectures given at UC Berkeley with as
accompanying music Grace by Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma. I found it by
searching for "Robin Blaser" who is a poet featured in the mashup. Most
importantly for the audience of Humanist is not that I wish to make the case
for data mining YouTube but that judicious use of metadata allows neat stuff
to be found. It's a lesson to impart with some exercises in list making.

Francois Lachance, 

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