[Humanist] 24.914 in denial

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Apr 29 07:49:19 CEST 2011


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 914.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Desmond Schmidt <desmond.schmidt at qut.edu.au>               (9)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                       (7)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial

  [3]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>                       (130)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial

  [4]   From:    del thomas Ph D <deltom at comcast.net>                      (11)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 16:55:55 +1000
        From: Desmond Schmidt <desmond.schmidt at qut.edu.au>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial
        In-Reply-To: <20110428051012.AC67F61014 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Peter,

I assumed that what Willard was referring to was the McLuhanesque principle that 'man shapes tool then tool shapes man'. Asserting that a computer simply automates a task that we would otherwise be forced to do manually, ignores the change in the task that the tool brings about. You can see this, for example, in the production of printed concordances. Once the previous manual task is automated it is suddenly not needed any more. Instead we can just search for words in a digital text and throw the printed concordance away. So in that sense the computer is much more than 'just a tool'.

Desmond Schmidt
Information Security Institute
University of Queensland
Australia


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 08:58:57 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial
        In-Reply-To: <20110428051012.AC67F61014 at woodward.joyent.us>


Willard consistently asks all of the best questions.

When I think of a computer as "just a tool," I usually think of it as a
conduit of some sort, almost in a very literal sense.  It is the hammer
between my hand and the nail; less metaphorically, it is in between me, the
content that I use, and the content that I produce.  It is not the content
itself.  If I were a programmer I would think very differently, of course.

Jim R



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 11:06:25 -0700
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial
        In-Reply-To: <20110428051012.AC67F61014 at woodward.joyent.us>


Dear Willard,

I was entertained by Mr. Stokes' simple and clear view of the computer, its
users and uses.  Reading his paragraphs, I suddenly found myself in a messy
bearskin cloak, the kind shamans wear in Siberia, but sent back in time, and
sitting outside some French cave mouth. There I was fashioning tufts of hair
onto small sticks; pounding some dry, colored chalks to powder and adding
some rainwater, preparatory to lighting a cup of bear fat oil and descending
to paint a wall with hunting scenes.  We have been using instruments since
we learned to flake flints to kill a bear, clear a cave of its family, and
set up a repository of charms and records.  *Plus ça change, nous sommes
toujours les memes Homo saps...?*
*
*
*Jascha Kessler*
*UCLA
*


-- 
Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648
www.jfkessler.com
www.xlibris.com



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 15:48:16 -0400
        From: del thomas Ph D <deltom at comcast.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.910 in denial
        In-Reply-To: <20110428051012.AC67F61014 at woodward.joyent.us>

Hi,

It may often be the case that technology allows future users to 
"discover" needs that otherwise would not have surfaced.  There is often 
an interaction between hardware soft ware wet ware and the users.     I 
think of the lead pencil that years after its introduction proved to be 
invaluable in space.  Needs that very likely could not have been 
anticipated even by Thoreau and his family.

Del

On 4/28/2011 1:10 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> 4. There is (I think) no point in producing hardware or software without properly considering the needs of its users.
>





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