[Humanist] 25.49 limits of mediation

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri May 27 00:53:27 CEST 2011


                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 49.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Todd Lawson <todd.lawson at utoronto.ca>                     (60)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?

  [2]   From:    Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>                      (22)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?

  [3]   From:    Stefan Gradmann <stefan.gradmann at ibi.hu-berlin.de>        (86)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 10:24:17 -0400
        From: Todd Lawson <todd.lawson at utoronto.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?
        In-Reply-To: <20110525213753.CAD1314B906 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dare one recall that now vintage Canadian notion: the medium is the message?
On May 25, 2011, at 5:37 PM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> 
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 47.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 07:34:35 +1000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: mediation
> 
> I've been asked what I think about "the digital mediation of knowledge" 
> in the disciplines of the humanities. My first reaction to this is to be 
> troubled by the word "mediation", picking up on the sense given in the 
> OED as 2.a,
> 
>> Agency or action as an intermediary; the state or fact of serving as
>> an intermediate agent, a means of action, or a medium of
>> transmission; instrumentality.
> 
> Understood in this way, mediation seems immediately to prejudice the 
> case quite unhelpfully, by starting us off thinking in 
> information-theoretic terms of senders, receivers and transmission 
> between them. (I do not deny that the information-theoretic model is 
> useful -- our devices, including the one I am using at the moment, prove 
> usefulness -- only that this usefulness is limited.) And this returns me 
> to the question that has recently had considerable traction here, namely 
> about tools, esp considered phenomenologically. I am thinking that 
> "mediation" and "just a tool" are very close cousins.
> 
> I am wondering now, who has most illuminatingly gagged on 
> "mediation", as I seem to be doing? For whom has the problem most 
> interestingly been problematic? What do we think about this?
> 
> I suspect that I am thinking in a rather elementary way about this 
> matter, so elementary, beginner's observations would be welcome, at 
> least by me. If someone has nailed this question dead then I want to 
> know all about that nail, but I suspect that this is one of those gifts 
> that keeps on giving.
> 
> Help with this will be most welcome.
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's
> College London; Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western
> Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.isr-journal.org);
> Editor, Humanist (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 10:25:02 -0700 (PDT)
        From: Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?
        In-Reply-To: <20110525213753.CAD1314B906 at woodward.joyent.us>


Willard, you wrote :

> I am wondering now, who has most illuminatingly gagged 
> on "mediation", as I seem to be doing?
> . . .
> but I suspect that this is one of those gifts that keeps on 
> giving.

So do I.  But anyway, though I'm pretty ignorant in this area, 
the names of Andre Leroi-Gourhan and Bernard Stiegler come 
to mind.  And I saw by chance a possibly relevant article in 
last year's _Aquinas : rivista internazionale di filosofia_ ( 53.1, 
p.39-63 ) :  Flavia Silli's "Le basi neurofisiologiche dell’
epistemologia intersoggettiva e la categoria esistenziale della 
testimonianza". Sorry I can't be of more help ( but surely 
someone else here can ).


- Laval Hunsucker
   Breukelen, Nederland



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 27 May 2011 00:27:57 +0200
        From: Stefan Gradmann <stefan.gradmann at ibi.hu-berlin.de>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.47 limits of mediation?
        In-Reply-To: <20110525213753.CAD1314B906 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

'mediation' is indeed a doomed term, and as a professor in Library and 
Information Science I know what I'm talking about: for centuries 
libraries have been defining themselves as mediators, providing access 
to printed information with their catalogues containing the pointers to 
the individual bits of information, the documents. They have tried to 
transpose this business model inherited from the Gutenberg galaxis into 
the Turing galaxis with OPACs and the notion of digital 'collections' 
they would again provide access to. Today, these libraries are facing a 
rapid erosion of this mediation model, and this erosion is mainly caused 
by the WWW, where the very notion of 'mediating' access to resources 
doesn't make much sense and likewise terms like 'catalog' or 
'collection' are increasingly emptied metaphors. This erosion is 
accelerated with the extension of the web both in syntax (RDF and linked 
data) and in scope (from a web of 'documents' to a web containing 
representations of almost everything that can be referred to in a 
denotating statement). And finally, the very concept of a document the 
whole mediation approach was built around is being deconstructed itself 
in the information and knowledge architecture of the linked data web.

I could make similar statements putting on my hat as president of DGI, 
the German Association of Information Science and Practice, which was 
built around the paradigm of mediating information for quite some time 
and currently experiences the complete erosion of this professional 
profile of information brokering.

This probably is somewhere between a beginner's observation and nailing 
the question dead :)

Best -- Stefan Gradmann


_____________________________________________________________
Prof. Dr. Stefan Gradmann
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Berlin School of Library and Information Science
Sitz: Dorothenstrasse 26
Post: Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 2093-4481
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e-mail: stefan.gradmann at ibi.hu-berlin.de
_____________________________________________________________
  Je est un autre.
(Arthur Rimbaud, Lettres du Voyant)
_____________________________________________________________





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