[Humanist] 25.341 basic scholarship?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 1 06:40:43 CEST 2011


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 341.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 07:22:03 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: basic scholarship?

In their Turing Award lecture, "Computer Science as Empirical Inquiry: 
Symbols and Search" (CACM 19.3: March 1976), Allen Newell and Herbert 
Simon wrote as follows about their discipline:

> We build computers and programs for many reasons. We build them to
> serve society and as tools for carrying out the economic tasks of
> society. But as basic scientists we build machines and programs as a
> way of discovering new phenomena and analyzing phenomena we already
> know about. Society often becomes confused about this, believing that
> computers and programs are to be constructed only for the economic
> use that can be made of them (or as intermediate items in a
> developmental sequence leading to such use). It needs to understand
> that the phenomena surrounding computers are deep and obscure,
> requiring much experimentation to assess their nature. It needs to
> understand that, as in any science, the gains that accrue from such
> experimentation and understanding pay off in the permanent
> acquisition of new techniques; and that it is these techniques that
> will create the instruments to help society in achieving its goals.

My question is this: changing what needs to be changed, how much of what 
goes on in the digital humanities satisfies their criterion as what they 
would call basic science?

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/





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