[Humanist] 28.759 evidence of value

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Feb 22 10:26:28 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 759.
            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>          (55)
        Subject: Re:  28.755 evidence of value

  [2]   From:    Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>           (44)
        Subject: Re:  28.755 evidence of value


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2015 08:23:07 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Re:  28.755 evidence of value


Stephen Gregg's realisation of the iterative loop from close reading to
microanalysis and back is, it seems to me, an essential step into the
heartland of literary and historical computing. But I am puzzled: why is
this not so obvious to us all that it need not be mentioned? Is it the case
that we, or some of us, expect answers from computers? If this is the case,
then does it reveal an expectation of answers from the scholarly study of
texts? And if that is true, what can be done to awaken indefatigable
curiosity and establish it in the public mind not only as the supreme virtue
of the scholarly life but also as a primary engine of human culture?

I was charmed the other day, thanks to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 (BBC),
to come across a "Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy",
Angie Hobbs
(http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/university-appoints-first-uk-professor-of-the-public-understanding-of-philosophy-1.174523).
I do recommend that you take the time out to listen to her interview
(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050yh93). We need many more such
appointments, in all fields of the humanities including digital humanities.
Humanists in the UK will recognise the phrase "public understanding" from
initiatives for the public understanding of science, where again and again
one finds stories of the curiosity-led research that has drawn someone
into the sciences and yielded not merely a life worth living but also the
discoveries we most value.

There is a dark side to the professionalisation of the academic life. The
usurping of curiosity by the ladder of promotion is certainly one of them.
For a rude awakening I recommend interviewing opportunistic
candidates.

Comments?

Yours,WM

On 21/02/2015 07:43, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 755.
>              Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>          Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2015 14:04:27 +0000
>          From: "Stephen H. Gregg"<s.gregg at bathspa.ac.uk>
>          Subject: Re:  28.751 evidence of value is evidence of worry
>          In-Reply-To:<20150220080423.317D97FC at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> Dear list
>
> Teaching (very entry level) textual analysis with my undergraduate students
> has really underlined - for me just as much as for them - precisely this
> movement between close reading and what Matthew Jockers terms macroanalysis
> (my students preferred this term to 'distant reading').
>
> Best
> Stephen Gregg


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



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2015 14:47:51 +0000
        From: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
        Subject: Re:  28.755 evidence of value
        In-Reply-To: <20150221074337.D1A6AA0C at digitalhumanities.org>


The term I prefer is 'scalable reading,', which is the name of my blog at
https://scalablereading.northwestern.edu  The most striking feature of
digital text analysis tools is not that they are "distant" or "macro" but
that they make it really easy to change your perspective. Depending on how
well your data have been prepared--usually a lot more work than casual
users suspect--you can zoom in or out at the drop of a hat. In business
jargon, I take it that "drilling down" refers to that distinctive power of
the technologies. 

In addition to being a more accurate description of the really distinctive
feature, "scalable reading" is also a more friendly term. It doesn't carry
with it any assumptions that you ought to go "macro" or "distant" and that
"micro" and "closer" are no longer where the action is. Instead "scalable
reading" gives readers the option to vary the distance from the data
depending on the tasks at hand.

Martin Mueller

Professor emeritus of English and Classics
Northwestern University



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