[Humanist] 28.737 evidence of value is evidence of worry

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 17 07:25:07 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 737.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>    (128)
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry

  [2]   From:    Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>                      (109)
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry

  [3]   From:    Desmond Schmidt <desmond.allan.schmidt at gmail.com>         (93)
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:17:37 +0100
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry
        In-Reply-To: <20150216062300.73F9DA67 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

Just to make sure, but I am not assuming you are unaware of these:

* Kirsch, A., 2014. Technology Is Taking Over English Departments: The
false promise of the digital humanities. New Republic. Available at:
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117428/limits-digital-humanities-adam-kirsch
[Accessed May 8, 2014].

* Fish, S., 2012. Mind Your P’s and B’s: The Digital Humanities and
Interpretation. New York Times. Available at:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/mind-your-ps-and-bs-the-digital-humanities-and-interpretation/
[Accessed February 26, 2013].

* Conrad, K., 2014. What the Digital Humanities Can’t Do. The Chronicle of
Higher Education. Available at:
http://chronicle.com/article/What-the-Digital-Humanities/148597/ [Accessed
September 15, 2014].

* Marche, S., 2012. Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities. Los
Angeles Review of Books. Available at:
http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/literature-is-not-data-against-digital-humanities
[Accessed May 8, 2014].

On commenting on the last one, Alex Gill called these types of publications
"straw-manned […] genre-pieces". I'd say that's fair enough. I think we are
hard pushed to find real anxiety explicitly in writing, but I'd be
delighted to be proven wrong! I cannot escape the feeling that real anxiety
is often covertly implicit in misconceptions of what other-than-hermeneutic
approaches are trying to explore. It is easy to hide anxiety behind
seemingly genuine academic argument. However, it is equally not academic
fair play to accuse and suspect such writings to be just based on luddite
anxiety. Genuine methodological concern should be valued. It is rather
unfortunate in my opinion that anxiety informed pieces induce poor argument
and less than helpful critical thinking. These genre-pieces divide minds
rather than that they contribute to the identification of real problems and
discourse. Our computational tools are at their core still highly
hermeneutically uninformed and inadequate. That is a challenge that needs
to be shared rather than that it would be taken as a cause to incite
methodological trench warfare.

All the best
--Joris


-- 
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*
 http://www.huygens.knaw.nl/vanzundert/
http://www.huygens.knaw.nl/vanzundert/
 http://www.huygens.knaw.nl/vanzundert/?lang=en

-------

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



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:35:40 -0600
        From: Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry
        In-Reply-To: <20150216062300.73F9DA67 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Daniel:

 I find your post interesting. If you will permit me to follow up with some of
the points to gain a deeper understanding of the issues that you raise.

 You state:

> a pretty widespread scepticism towards quantitative-empirical data in
> general can be framed in the well-known saying "don't believe in
> statistical conclusions that you didn't influence by yourself”.

Can you document this “widespread criticism?” Let us examine whether
the skepticism has merit.  I recently observed a note by Willard that captured 
the essence of the Royal Society: “Nullius in verba” which translates as 
“take nobody’s word for it.” In millennia prior to this enlightenment, the
idea of truth was unfortunately dictated by those in “authority” or “power.” 
How could returning to a culture of “I don’t believe X because I wasn’t
an influence for X” be of any merit in the academy? Would, for example,
someone be skeptical of flying an airplane on the argument that all of
the tests done on the airplane (most of which were quantitative) to make
it safe to fly were not in the presence of that person? How are quantitative
methods employed in the humanities any different?

Perhaps I have misunderstood the argument, and await clarification. Thank
you.

-paul

On Feb 16, 2015, at 12:23 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 735.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 09:23:09 +0100
>        From: Daniel Herzig <danielherzig2014 at gmail.com>
>        Subject: Re:  28.733 evidence of value is evidence of worry
>        In-Reply-To: <20150215072358.310A9A05 at digitalhumanities.org>
> 
> 
> Dear Willard,
> 
> a pretty widespread scepticism towards quantitative-empirical data in
> general can be framed in the well-known saying "don't believe in
> statistical conclusions that you didn't influence by yourself".
> 
> Of course that doesn't affect philosophical discourse about digital
> humanities but has great impact on big data processing done within them.
> "Mistakes" within the base of a digital, let's say linguistic,
> investigation will have by far greater implications than those of a
> classic one. A protecting argument would be that these mistakes can be
> revised in a very short time though, without having to discard the initial
> material.
> 
> Best regards,
> 
> Daniel Herzig
> Vienna


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Chair, ACM SIGSIM
Distinguished University Chair of Arts & Technology 
   and Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog: creative-automata.com



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2015 05:38:29 +1000
        From: Desmond Schmidt <desmond.allan.schmidt at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  28.735 evidence of value is evidence of worry
        In-Reply-To: <20150216062300.73F9DA67 at digitalhumanities.org>


Willard,

I would reframe the question as: 'what have we done that transcends the
technological tools used to realise it'. Some of these achievements do
that. We can conceive of techniques to test the authenticity of works of
Shakespeare that succeed using whatever tools are at hand. But what
about specific technical tools that depend on their technologies for
their success? As Vint Cerf sad in a recent article on BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31450389 we may be heading
for a digital dark age in which current technologies and the texts
recorded in them will not be understood in the future. That worries me.

Desmond Schmidt
Quensland University of Technology






More information about the Humanist mailing list