[Humanist] 27.585 an atlas? give-and-take?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Dec 3 07:48:45 CET 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 585.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (30)
        Subject: more like a person

  [2]   From:    "Jim O'Donnell" <cassiodorus at gmail.com>                   (23)
        Subject: seeking an atlas


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2013 10:18:32 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: more like a person


Consider the following about developments in computing, from John 
Pfeiffer, "Machines That Man Can Talk With", in The Computer Age and Its 
Potential for Management, by Gilbert Burke and the Editors of Fortune 
(New York: Harper and Row, 1965):

> PERHAPS THE MOST STRIKING single fact about the continuing computer
> revolution is that the proudest achievements of today's machines will
> seem crude and primitive within a decade.... [New developments] are a
> response to an urgent need for computers that are intelligent enough
> to be approached in a more democratic, "man to man" manner.
> Present-day computers have to be ordered about like menials. The user
> writes out a detailed program of instructions for them and then waits
> while the machine grinds out answers..... But when he wants to do
> original work-say, to design a new space vehicle or devise a subtler
> business or military strategy-he cannot spell out step-by-step
> programs in advance. He must be able to maintain give-and-take
> relations with the computer instead of giving it peremptory commands.
> In other words, he must be able to talk easily with it, ask it
> questions, receive prompt replies, and change his mind at a moment's
> notice in the light of those replies.... Conversations still tend to
> be a bit on the awkward side....

Substitute for the now striking use of the personal pronoun an 
explicitly more inclusive one; also substitute for the user-programmer 
the user as he or she now usually is. Then ask, what has changed since 
then?

Yours,
WM
-- 
Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2013 13:42:13 +0100
        From: "Jim O'Donnell" <cassiodorus at gmail.com>
        Subject: seeking an atlas

I would like to find a real atlas for my iPad.  I mean real maps that
zoom down to a decent level of detail, contain some basic street maps
of major cities.  Essentially the Times Atlas of the World would do
just fine, if I could zoom down to a resolution comparable to what I
get when I take my (near-sighted) glasses off and put my nose to the
page of the print version and squint.  Yes, Google Maps exists and has
excellences (and I have kept my iPad at system 5 so that I have the
real Google Maps app from back in the day, not the crippled version
that came out after they had their fight with Apple; and not the Apple
Maps thing -- if you've forgotten it, the joint venture was really a
superior product to anything available now) BUT I want something that
is not network dependent.  This came to me in a plane where I was
sketching the outlines of a lake on the back of my boarding pass so I
could look at it after we landed and figure out where we flew.  Silly
to have to do that.

App Store is discouraging about choices.  National Georgraphic Atlas
is available very cheaply, but it requires network to work.  Other
no-name atlases on offer get screamingly bad reviews.  I know I'll buy
the Barrington Classical Atlas when it comes out real soon now and
that will help me over a large part of Eurasia, but not in the
Americas alas.  Suggestions welcome.

Jim O'Donnell
Georgetown U.





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