[Humanist] 29.688 big vs small? (a naive question)

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Feb 5 07:32:51 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 688.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
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        Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2016 09:12:11 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: a naive question


Let me ask a naive question: if scale matters fundamentally, in the sense
that larger aggregates of things manifest new properties not observed in
smaller ones, then how do we know what if anything not observable in the
smaller but seen in the larger is relevant to the smaller? Does the
difference made by scale imply that Big Data is a realm of its own? -- that
(with apologies to Jason Ensor) distant reading means getting close to
*something else*, with problematic connection to any individual text? How
are so-called bigger pictures connected to smaller ones? Are the two
incommensurable?

(My question, by the way, was triggered by P. W. Anderson's "Moreisdifferent", Science NS 177.4047 (1972): 393-6.)

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






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