[Humanist] 27.147 readings on modelling

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jun 24 22:54:58 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 147.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2013 09:53:12 +0200
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>
        Subject: Re:  27.141 history of markup? readings on modelling?
        In-Reply-To: <20130620200510.B4EA53A3A at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Michael,

If you were looking for more concrete digital and/or computational models
for topics, events, text, style, and narrative etc., there's a lot to go
round and Wikipedia (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topic_model) is good
companion for starting a dive into literature I think.

A bit counter to "quantitative/tractable models of research objects" you
may also be interested in chapters 9 and 10 of Handbook of Knowledge
Representation. More specifically chapter 10 shows the potential for
"qualitative computational models", which to me suggests a closer match to
humanities modeling:

- Forbus, Kenneth D. (2008), "Qualitative Modeling". In F. van Harmelen et
al. (eds.), Handbook of Knowledge Representation. (p.361)

- Struss, Peter (2008) Model-based Problem Solving, "Qualitative Modeling".
In F. van Harmelen et al. (eds.), Handbook of Knowledge Representation.

For some background/rational as to why qualitative modeling and
computability is of essence I think Johanna Drucker's Humanities Approaches
to Graphical Display in DHQ (
http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/1/000091/000091.html) is still

Modeling as part of the dynamic between humanities and computer science has
been little studied to uncover its mechanisms and potentials. Althouh
modeling arguably is applied in any DH project (and I'd argue in any decent
research design actually), mostly DH modeling practices seem tacit and

I think this is actually ground that remains to be covered, at least in
(digital) humanities. That is: there are a lot of practices people apply
for capturing, describing, and encoding topics, events, text etc.. These
constitute concrete models, or model implementations, I guess. However
there is not much explicit reflection on what constitutes modeling, or what
a Model is for that matter. What do researchers assume modeling to be, what
do they think it facilitates? Nor is there a lot of literature on multiple
models for the same domain, and how models in such cases are confronted and
compared to each other. There is even less, I suspect, on the analytic
capabilities and underpinnings of various models applied in the humanities.

And actually I'd be very interested in other people's views on this.

Some (very) general pointers:

- McCarty: “either a representation of something for purposes of study, or
a design for realizing something new.”
(Companion to Digital Humanities as you quote)

- Minsky: “To an observer B, an object A* is a model of an object A to the
extent that B can use A* to answer questions that interest him about A”
(Minsky, Marvin L. (1995). Matter, Mind and Models.)

- Root-Bernstein: "The point of modeling is to depict something real or
imagined in actual or hypothetical terms in order to study its structure or
function." (Robert Root-Bernstein and Michele Root-Bernstein (2003).
Intuitive Tools for Innovative Thinking. In Larisa V. Shavinina (ed.),
International Handbook on Innovation.)

The last also has: "Modeling, as many practitioners have said, is like
playing god, toying with reality in order to discover its unexpected

-- Joris

On Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 141.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>   [1]   From:    Kimberly Tryka <ktryka at gmail.com>
>   (12)
>         Subject: looking for a reference
>   [2]   From:    Michael Ullyot <ullyot at ucalgary.ca>
>   (15)
>         Subject: Theorizing the Model
> [snip]
> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 09:01:07 -0600
>         From: Michael Ullyot <ullyot at ucalgary.ca>
>         Subject: Theorizing the Model
> Dear all:
> I'd like to ask both a research and a teaching question, about the most
> productive *and* accessible theorizations of the Model in artistic,
> scientific, and in-between disciplines like ours.
> I'm teaching a course (this fall) in my university's interdisciplinary
> arts-and-science undergraduate program on the very broad theme of
> 'representation.' I'm comparing the relationships between scientific
> theories, artistic representations, and quantitative/tractable models of
> research objects (in any field) that make them computationally addressable.
> The question is this: which essays or articles would best introduce these
> advanced undergraduates to the third category?
> I ask Humanist readers because our own Willard McCarty's essay, "Modeling:
> a study in words and meanings" from *A companion to digital humanities*
> (2004), is cited in Matt Burton's "Joy of Topic Modeling" blog post last
> month < http://mcburton.net/blog/joy-of-tm/ >. This seems the natural
> place to start, but I wonder if readers have used other texts to induce
> intelligent non-specialists to join, or at least to grasp, our field.
> These are my other texts:
> * David Bohm, *On Creativity*
> * Virginia Woolf, *The Waves* (and Stephen Ramsay's work on the same)
> * Richard Dawkins, *The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing*
> With thanks,
> Michael Ullyot
> ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
> Michael Ullyot, Assistant Professor
> Department of English, University of Calgary
> ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/  |  @ullyot  |  403.220.4656
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Drs. Joris J. van Zundert
*Researcher & Developer Digital and Computational Humanities
Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands
*Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

*Jack Sparrow: I thought you were supposed to keep to the code.
Mr. Gibbs: We figured they were more actual guidelines.

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