[Humanist] 27.151 curiosity

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jun 25 22:06:31 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 151.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2013 16:25:20 -0500
        From: Erik Hanson <erikalanhanson at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  27.150 is no one curious?
        In-Reply-To: <20130624210443.A11EA3A7B at digitalhumanities.org>

I wouldn't be surprised if, given the primacy of digital research, actually
going to the physical library were often the result of frustrated searching
(or over-browsing) elsewhere, such that research requests in person
were occurring at that state of mind of "I need to find this and be done
with it already. I've already wasted too much time surfing around and
getting distracted by tangents on the internet."

On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 150.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>         Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 06:51:15 +1000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: unintentional, serendipitous research
> In the Chronicle of Higher Education for 23 June, Julio Alves writes in
> praise of "Unintentional Knowledge: What we find when we're not looking"
> (
> http://chronicle.com/article/Unintentional-Knowledge/139891/?cid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en
> ).
> He documents the changes in library usage at his institution, from
> dependence on printed materials to online, but with that shift he notes
> increasing conformity of students' research to that which can be found
> by subject- (and presumably discipline-) specific searching. Happy
> accidents in the stacks -- going for one book and finding another, and
> another unexpectedly -- don't tend to happen any longer, he says.
> My experience with online searching, which I do every day of the week,
> every week of every year, is so much the opposite that I wonder at the
> cause of this conformity. When I was doing my doctoral research I knew
> to nose around in the English literature stacks, and those for classics
> and biblical studies, and so often did. I ventured out, e.g. into the
> social sciences, history et al when a title came up, but otherwise my
> prowlings were rather limited. (No wonder it took me 8 years to complete
> my degree....) Now the situation is much worse (better). I am often
> adrift in a vast ocean of digital stuff, blown this way and that by every
> promising trade wind that happens to blow. Frequently I am frantically
> trying not to be blown onto shores of fascinating new riches. I may sink
> with all the treasure I have loaded on board before I get a chance even
> to finger it.
> This is to say nothing about my profligacy of book-buying that is a direct
> consequence of digital serendipity. Amazon Prime, one-click option
> turned on, of course.
> In other words, I think an inculcated narrowness of mind is the problem,
> not our marvellous online resources. I think the disciplinary blinkers
> that Greg Dening thundered about are the problem. I think our professors
> are failing to understand that the times are not just changing now but
> have already done quite a lot of changing. And, perhaps most seriously
> of all, I think all the pernicious nonsense about universities training
> for jobs by giving students transferable skills has done deep damage.
> For shame, Paymasters!
> What do I need to read, boss? May I punch out now and go home to my
> telly, beer and chips?
> Comments?
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
> the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
> London; Professor, Research Group in Digital Humanities, University of
> Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
> (www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist (dhhumanist.org);
> www.mccarty.org.uk/

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