[Humanist] 24.802 our basic furniture

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Mar 20 08:22:08 CET 2011


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 802.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2011 09:57:13 -0400
        From: Haines Brown <haines at histomat.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.798 our basic furniture
        In-Reply-To: <20110319073031.0B84611A442 at woodward.joyent.us>

Although the initial question and the replies to it may be worthwhile, 
there was an absense of the parameters needed to make it meaningful. 
For example, the replies to the question wander between listing 
specific applications and the functions they support and between 
applications specific to humanistic study and those probably useful to 
everyone.

The main parameter, however, was probably the purpose of the question. 
For example, a way the question could have been put is: what are the 
basic computer functions needed by someone entering the profession? 
Once that is defined, it is easier to debate which operating system is 
more accommodating and which applications best fulfill those functions 
on those various platforms. However, my experience is that such 
debates are often not very productive, and a survey of actual usage is 
probably more efficient and useful.

A functional approach might be, just by way of illustration, that we 
in the humanities are fixated on the extraction and production of 
information, usually in the form of text: a) operations on "primary" 
text such as digitalizing, translating, statistical analysis, and 
storing, b) storing and access to "secondary" text material, such as 
an organized database that supports searching and automated citing and 
some means for on-line information retrieval, c) text manipulation for 
its production in various media such as print, projection, and 
Internet, with an ability to manipulate and include auxiliary media. 
The relative weight of the first and second functions seem to vary 
greatly, although the third would seem to be common to everyone.

Haines Brown






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