[Humanist] 26.241 buying a bill of goods

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Aug 23 08:24:36 CEST 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 241.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2012 12:19:33 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: rhetoric


Allow me to pose a question about where rhetoric leaves off and 
matters (we think) of substance begin. I quote from an e-mail message 
that just popped in:

> The phenomena, known as big data is enabling organisations to get the
> right answers to their biggest questions-faster.
>
> But big data tools are not, in themselves a ‘magic bullet’ and there
> will be challenges along the way that will threaten to derail any
> initiative before it even gets off the ground.  For a start,
> justifying the investment in big data isn't easy. Many will struggle
> to define a business case, and the structural, people and process
> changes that will likely occur with a big data effort need to be
> managed very carefully to ensure success.
>
> Learn how, by hearing from the early adopters and key innovators
> leading the way in big data and advanced analytics at the 3rd Big
> Data Insight Group Forum on 13 September 2012.

The above can be made considerably more genteel, considerably
more like what one of us might write. It's trivial to find the markers of 
ignorance in the above text, the mistakes in punctuation, grammatical 
number and so on, and trivial to find the buzz-words and to adjust 
for the humanities. These are errors and infelicities that can easily 
be corrected, e.g. thus:

> The phenomenon known as "big data" enables us to make significant
> progress with our most difficult questions, and to do this faster than
> before.
>
> But big data collections and tools are not sufficient in themselves.
> Before they can be provided and put to use, challenges are likely to
> threaten any project before it even begins. For a start,
> justifying the investment in big data isn't easy. The changes in
> institutional structures and processes and the new abilities required
> from those involved need to be managed very carefully to ensure
> a good outcome.
>
> Learn how such an outcome may be secured by hearing from early 
> adopters and key innovators leading the way in big data and 
> advanced analytics at the 3rd Big Data Insight Group Forum on 
> 13 September 2012.

One could go further. But even so, the bill of goods being sold here 
remains undisturbed and, I think if we're honest with ourselves, 
could readily be encountered in an academic context.

What's assumed rather than asked? What "critical thinking", as we 
call it, is missing?

Comments?

Yours,
WM

-- 
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
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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