[Humanist] 24.307 getting involved

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Sep 2 22:32:43 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 307.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Peter Batke <batke_p at hotmail.com>                         (36)
        Subject: getting involved

  [2]   From:    Melissa Terras <m.terras at ucl.ac.uk>                      (104)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.302 getting involved


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2010 23:40:47 +0000
        From: Peter Batke <batke_p at hotmail.com>
        Subject: getting involved


There seem to be some few sparks left in the "getting involved" thread. The embers of Doug Reside's challenge are still smoldering. Let me fan the embers.
 
Dougs challenge responded to a paragraph in my post (24.273) on text mining and a further paragraph that uncounted CS people a fiddling with the back door of humanities text disciplines. They have already carted off copies of much of what we hold dear into their domain. The thought was that some many of these people will become genuinely interested in literature texts or history texts. I see this as real possibility, not doubt the arrogance of the humanist, I mean Brin and Page got hooked enough to spend 100 million, if not enough to learn Middle English. I seen no tracks down Washington Rd from East Pyne to Fine.
 
> I have great hopes that the Google people and text miners in general,
> who not only program but think in terms of Markhov chains (and about
> 20-30 other techniques) for extracting information from text,
> (unimaginably vast quantities of text), can be brought to literature
> easier than the current active cohorts of literature people can be
> brought to mathematical modeling.
 
Doug's response was to share that he felt he had moved from CS to English and hoped to generate discussion on the point. Off-line he shared that his CS degree was primarily applied math. The challenge is not to point out counter examples; yea, there are examples of movement.
 
The actual challenge is to confront the notion that there has been a huge interest in text mining, by applied math people, an interest beyond huge going deep into young hackers from HS and college to graduate students who want to get Google grants or learn Google techniques. Since I have made a practice on rubbing humanists noses in metaphoric piles of computing up and down the east coast for the last 30 years - I realized that now that I am retired - this is what I like to do best above all the world. I am still miffed that a certain scholar of classics did not get tenure at Harvard because the extremely learned were nothing but that. No harm done except to the extremely learned.
 
Doug's response was a complex one, well beyond the fact of changing focus.
 
> When I reflect on the amount of time I had to devote to my major in 
> Computer Science as compared to my major (or even Ph.D.) in English I 
> think this is absolutely true. Getting an interested computer scientist 
> situated in a humanities discipline would likely take much less time
> than getting a humanist trained in advanced math (I say this 
> provocatively in the hopes that someone challenges my assumption and
> experience).
 
> The future of digital humanities may lie with technological disciplines
> rather than humanities ones.
 
I will not quote the rest of it; look in post 24.275.
 
My thought was to tie in to Willards thought of some time age that mathematization of some disciplines was a long and hard road. His example was economics. Yet the thought is that mathematization is not really optional. While this could have been dismissed as utter nonsense some years ago, the tide is turning. At some time the mathematization of cosmology may have been thought nonsense.
 
I would like to rephrase the challenge and call into question humanities modes of publication. I am amazed how much empty verbiage I must chew through to get at some uncorroberated facts that should have been mined and put into a database.
 
Let me not strain the bounds of this mediun, cheers, Peter
  		 	   		  


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:54:16 +0100
        From: Melissa Terras <m.terras at ucl.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.302 getting involved
        In-Reply-To: <20100831235533.8D10266D48 at woodward.joyent.us>


  Hi Folks,

When I was doing my doctorate in Engineering (Robots and Information 
Systems) at Oxford, a fair whack of the 30 odd student cohort in the 
same group as me had done undergraduate degrees in Classics.
My prof believed that a grounding in greek and latin prepared you 
equally for the rigours and logic of programming, as an undergraduate 
degree in comp sci or maths did. (And when it came to writing up, we 
"humanities" folks could do it in double quick time, as we had had lots 
of experience in "writing" as well as thinking logically, which went 
very much in our favour in the final stages).

I'd also say that my undergrad degree (Art History and English Lit, with 
a specialism in Classical Art) has served me well by giving me a visual 
design training - which comes in handy when dealing with user interface 
design, digital identity, etc.  This skill is also sadly lacking from 
many who can program.

(And yes, I learnt the maths and the programming and graduated 
successfully, and continue to work with interested comp sci and 
engineering folks).

All this to say - there are plenty of folks out there who have crossed 
the divide succesfully, and can bring interesting skills to the table, 
and work with either pure humanities folks, or pure maths folks, 
successfully. I believe this will also become more common.

Melissa

On 01/09/2010 00:55, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 302.
>           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>          Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2010 08:28:29 -0400
>          From: Allen Beye Riddell<allen.riddell at duke.edu>
>          Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.280 getting involved
>          In-Reply-To:<20100824211205.0EE8E61C20 at woodward.joyent.us>
>
>
>> I wish that I could challenge your assumptions and experience, but...
>> a computer scientist who reads enough of the right books can become a
>> good enough humanist in a much shorter time than a humanist can become
>> an equally competent programmer.
> There are some important counterexamples out there. I've run across a
> fair number of PhDs in Computer Science who have a BA in Classics. One
> concentration seems to be in Massachusetts -- with UMass (CS), Tufts,
> and Harvard.
>
> On Tue, 2010-08-24 at 21:12 +0000, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 280.
>>           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>>
>>
>>
>>          Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 17:20:39 -0400
>>          From: James Rovira<jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>>          Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.275 getting involved
>>          In-Reply-To:<20100823195833.1721365417 at woodward.joyent.us>
>>
>> I think that Alan's advice is very good.  There are a great many tasks
>> in humanities study that is made much easier with digital tools; a
>> humanist who is interested in these tasks can probably become excited
>> at the tools allowing them to do so.
>>
>> But, I've been thinking along the lines of the following:
>>
>>> When I reflect on the amount of time I had to devote to my major in
>>> Computer Science as compared to my major (or even Ph.D.) in English I
>>> think this is absolutely true.  Getting an interested computer
>>> scientist situated in a humanities discipline would likely take much
>>> less time than getting a humanist trained in advanced math (I say this
>>> provocatively in the hopes that someone challenges my assumption and
>>> experience).
>> I wish that I could challenge your assumptions and experience, but...
>> a computer scientist who reads enough of the right books can become a
>> good enough humanist in a much shorter time than a humanist can become
>> an equally competent programmer.
>>
>> I think that if we changed our education systems so that students
>> couldn't graduate college without at least two full years of calculus,
>> the situation might be different.  That's a change I'd favor, by the
>> way...
>>
>> Jim R
>
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-- 
Melissa M. Terras MA MSc DPhil CLTHE CITP FHEA
Senior Lecturer in Electronic Communication
Department of Information Studies
Henry Morley Building
University College London
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT

Tel: 020-7679-7206 (direct), 020-7679-7204 (dept), 020-7383-0557 (fax)
Email: m.terras at ucl.ac.uk
Web: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/melissa-terras/
Blog: http://melissaterras.blogspot.com/

Deputy Director, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dh/
General Editor, Digital Humanities Quarterly: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/





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