[Humanist] 29.437 ontologizing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 31 09:33:47 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 437.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Arianna Ciula <ariannaciula at gmail.com>                   (158)
        Subject: Re:  29.433 ontologizing

  [2]   From:    "Dr. Hartmut Krech" <kr538 at zfn.uni-bremen.de>             (20)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 29.433 ontologizing

  [3]   From:    Michael Ullyot <ullyot at ucalgary.ca>                       (24)
        Subject: Ontologies and evidence


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2015 09:36:55 +0000
        From: Arianna Ciula <ariannaciula at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  29.433 ontologizing
        In-Reply-To: <20151030073341.AA58E6D0F at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

I think that using the analogy with design processes can helps us here so I
like that you used the word 'redesign'. I think your sense of ontologizing
fits with an understanding able to capture practice-based research if one
sees it as iterative and creative process indeed. So not the models but the
modelling, not the ready-made boxes, but the manipulation of (immaterial
and material) ideas into one and another and another one model. The models
are finite (and failing) but they realise a process that is imperfect and
infinite. The latter is not a limitation but the engine. The gap between
formal and informal classification is not a hinder to better digital
humanities, but the reason why digital humanities can exist at all (at
least that's what I thought I learned by reading you... and others and by
doing digital humanities).

Surely industrial design gives us finite beautiful and efficient products.
Yet this hasn't stopped designers making new chairs. Ultimately the analogy
breaks at some point, but I think it can be helpful to grasp the division
between ready-made models and modelling. With others, I argued elsewhere
that a semiotic understanding of modelling (following Björn Kralemann &
Claas Lattmann (2013). Models as Icons: Modeling Models in the Semiotic
Framework of Peirce's Theory of Signs. Synthese 190 (16):3397-3420) not
only is helpful to capture this dinamycity and openness of modelling as a
process of signification, but also allows us to bring to the fore 'the end'
of the modelling (meaning also the classifying), the purpose, the scope,
the why we do it.

On another note, personally, while I think it's very important to craft and
play by hand, I am not sure every digital humanities scholar should be a
fully fledged maker (I am aware this debate has probably already exhausted
its flow elsewhere). I believe in communication and mediation. One has to
know how much one can about the human and mechanic principles of technology
but mainly to be able to talk with, interact meaningfully with and
understand those who master them; we don't all make chairs. Some imagine
them and draw them. It's not a hierarchy, it's a design team.

Best,
Arianna

Dr Arianna Ciula
Department of Humanities
University of Roehampton | London | SW15 5PH

On 30 October 2015 at 07:33, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>
>                  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
>
>
> 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




--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2015 13:45:55 +0100
        From: "Dr. Hartmut Krech" <kr538 at zfn.uni-bremen.de>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 29.433 ontologizing
        In-Reply-To: <20151030073341.AA58E6D0F at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard,

The question of 'ontologizing' as a means of educating 
oneself about the nature of a problem, then -- if I 
understand your argument -- amounts to what Aristotle is 
said to have told his disciples (according to Diogenes 
Laertius): "As sight takes in light from the surrounding 
air, so does the soul from mathematics" (DL 5.1). If such an 
illumination is in danger of being prevented by the schism 
between the producer and the consumer of computer software, 
a change in the 'modes of production' (is this what you are 
recommending?) is not necessarily at stake. It would be 
sufficient to teach the basics of programming and to mould 
solutions to suit local needs.

Best,
Hartmut
http://ww3.de/krech

Am 30.10.2015 um 08:33 schrieb Humanist Discussion Group:
> 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?).



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2015 14:50:33 +0000
        From: Michael Ullyot <ullyot at ucalgary.ca>
        Subject: Ontologies and evidence
        In-Reply-To: <mailman.7.1446202806.22455.humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard et al:

The line of Morson’s ("Only by deciding on the sort of thing one is looking for can one hope to find it”) makes intuitive sense for all kinds of inquiries; the question is, are we forming our opinions and building our models based on what the pollsters call a representative sample? I don’t know any other way to proceed other than to find a sample, make it representative (at least) of a local pattern or phenomenon, and then find other samples that are analogous — but sufficiently different to be interesting, and to change our original pattern.

Maybe an example will clarify what I mean. My project <http://ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2015/10/28/toward-an-augmented-criticism/> concerns rhetorical figures like *gradatio*, starting with Shakespeare (e.g. “My conscience has a thousand several *tongues*, and every *tongue* brings in a several *tale*, and every *tale* condemns me for a villain.”) It's easy enough to model this arrangement of repeating words, and indeed my colleagues are building an ontology of figures expressed through a series of regular expressions.

But we find as we deploy those regular expressions on various texts that we get odd examples of *gradatio* that challenge or (better) expand and complicate our original models. Take this example:

Yes, for although he had as many lives,
As a thousand widows, and a thousand wives,
As a thousand lions, and a thousand rats,
A thousand wolves, and a thousand cats,
A thousand bulls, and a thousand calves,
And a thousand legions divided in halves,
He shall never scape death on my sword's point,

It’s not an ordinary list, but a series of *anaphoras* (repeated words at the beginnings of clauses); each clause is also an *isocolon*, each of equal length and similar structure. Is it 'really' *gradatio*? Only if we're exceedingly generous in our definition of the figure, I think.

Or this:

Upon 'em, upon 'em, upon 'em, they fly, they fly, they fly.

This is two 3-part *isocolons* in series, with no sense of successive movement or growth.

So we refine our original ideas, adjust the script looking for them, and shift our models.

That’s how literary criticism (or really, any inquiry) ought to work, right? You begin with a model, you find instances that complicate it, and you build a new model on that expanded base of evidence. I’ve written a bit more about this here<http://ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2015/10/28/toward-an-augmented-criticism/>.

yours
Michael



=-=-=-=-=-
Michael Ullyot

Associate Professor, Department of English<http://english.ucalgary.ca/> :: Associate Dean (Teaching + Learning), Faculty of Arts<http://arts.ucalgary.ca/>, University of Calgary :: PI, Augmented Criticism Lab<http://acriticismlab.org/> :: Blog<http://ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/> :: Twitter<https://twitter.com/ullyot>

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