[Humanist] 29.433 ontologizing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Oct 30 08:33:41 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 433.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2015 07:06:13 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Re:  29.431 ontologizing
        In-Reply-To: <074d645fb9ee46f49a13c43924702bb9 at AM3PR03MB1283.eurprd03.prod.outlook.com>


Øyvind Eide's response to my sequence of terms, ontology --> ontologies -->
ontologizing, brings out an interesting difference of perspective reflected
in different senses of the term 'modelling'. I will try to state this
difference clearly, though in a way that fixes the shifting sands for
purposes of argument.

If you look on how we relate to software as makers, from a developer's point
of view, then the participial 'ontologizing' or ('conceptual modelling')
causes no stir, I'd assume. But if you look from the ordinary scholar's
perspective, what you see is almost entirely shrink-wrapped products, fixed
ontologies and conceptual models that are pre-cooked to allow you a bit of a
tweak here and there but not fundamental redesign. Is that correct, even
roughly? If it is, then what we're seeing is the old developer/user divide,
moving with the progress of technology, but still there. In practical terms
the obvious way to get around it is to learn enough to start messing with
software directly -- to make software things oneself, as many here do.

But meanwhile we still largely talk mostly as consumers rather than as
makers. Education is the solution, and that's happening (is it on a
large-enough scale?). But as a (side-)effect we are spawning a great swarm
of ungrounded theorizing, which I'd assume those on the makers' side look on
with more than a little dismay. Some strange things come of it.

What makes this situation (changing what needs to be changed) essentially
different from that elsewhere, e.g. in physics, between the theoreticians
and experimentalists, or on a larger scale, with scientists and engineers?
What needs to change for digital humanities?

Yours,
WM

On 29/10/2015 06:19, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 431.
>              Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>          Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2015 21:42:45 +0100
>          From: Øyvind_Eide <lister at oeide.no>
>          Subject: Re:  29.426 ontologizing?
>          In-Reply-To: <20151027064617.CA4718E5 at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> 27. okt. 2015 kl. 07:46 skrev Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>:
>
>>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 426.
>>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>>
>>
>>
>>         Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2015 06:30:02 +0000
>>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>>         Subject: ontologizing
>>
>> In pursuit of wisdom about wisdom literature (proverbs, parables and the
>> like) I ran into Gary Saul Morson's The Long and Short of It: From
>> Aphorism to Novel (Stanford, 2012). It itself offers two sorts of wisdom
>> to the computationally fascinated: an antidote, if you will, to one
>> current obsession and a booster to another. The first is demonstration
>> of the rewards from studying Small Data; second is its encouragement to
>> play seriously with schemes of what might be. Morson's Introduction, in
>> which he discusses the many ways of sorting the forms of aphoristic
>> literature, implies that the second made the first possible. Anyhow
>> here's the paragraph which urged me to write this note:
>>
>>> Like arguments over terminology, classification debates may seem
>>> pointless, and yet, as thinkers from Aristotle to Linnaeus and Darwin
>>> have understood, one can often best understand a range of phenomena
>>> by first examining its types. If nomenclature proves less than
>>> helpful in doing so and the phenomena lend themselves to different
>>> groupings, one needs to reflect on why one is interested in the
>>> phenomena in the first place. Articulating the questions one hopes to
>>> answer also helps. Only by deciding on the sort of thing one is
>>> looking for can one hope to find it. There is no single correct way
>>> of classifying genres. Rather, principles of classification properly
>>> depend on the reasons for classifying. Different purposes demand
>>> different classifications. (pp. 4-5)
>>
>> Perhaps as "ontology" has among us given way to "ontologies" so it in
>> turn should be given the means to metamorphose into "ontologizing”?
>
> Dear Willard,
>
> We already use the terms ‘ontological analysis’ and ‘conceptual modelling’. Maybe that covers more or less the same as ‘ontologizing’?
>
> All the best,
>
> Øyvind


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





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