[Humanist] 30.202 tools, method, tooling

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jul 26 07:37:43 CEST 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 202.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (39)
        Subject: tools

  [2]   From:    Hope Greenberg <hag at uvm.edu>                              (18)
        Subject: Re:  30.200 tools

        Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2016 07:14:36 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: tools

Allow me, if you will, a stubborn course-correction, or an invitation to
reconsider the current subject: not so much 'tools' as 'tooling', and not so
much 'method' either. I'm clearly wanting to edge closer to the
preoccupation of computer science with developing tools, and away from the
help desk's helpful advice about which ones to pick up and use. But the
concept 'method' has a very different trajectory'. The divergence is over
the tendency of 'method' to become something fixed. (Consider, for example,
"I have a method for doing that." Contrast "What if I try doing this?") What
I am struggling to express is something very close to 'live coding'
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_coding), something performative, for an
audience of one. There are surely people here who know a great deal more
about this than I do, but allow me to have a go.

When I learned programming (Fortran, assembler) you had to plan everything.
Flowcharts always; "one line of comment for every line of code" was the
slogan I tried to live by. The reason for this now seemingly absurd amount
of effort was that the 'turnaround time' -- itself a telling phrase -- could
be hours, even days, and what you got back across the I/O counter in the
computing centre was more often than not the result of some silly error in
keypunching. (Once I received a call: "How many boxes of printout did you
expect????") All that has changed, of course. You try things out.
Experiment. Yes?

I'm speaking about coding for research purposes. Are there stable methods at
the edge of research, where it cuts into the unknown? Can the aim of a
research discipline be stability? Fixed methods? Would it be reasonable to
think that the direction we're going in -- we who live at the crash-site of
computing and the humanities -- is far more about tooling, not tools, not
methods? Of course people in CS will continue to discover cool algorithms
that form part of the standard toolkit, but I am wanting to talk about
discovering, not discoveries.

And finally, a request: to use the wonderfully polysyllabic 'methodology'
when it means something more than 'method'. Clearly the ghost of Thomas
Sprat haunts me.


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney

        Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2016 14:36:40 +0000
        From: Hope Greenberg <hag at uvm.edu>
        Subject: Re:  30.200 tools
        In-Reply-To: <20160725055237.22AF87B88 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Humanists -

To follow-up on Laura’s idea, you may be interested in exploring the Hedonometer at the University of Vermont Complex Systems Center:

The original project was an attempt to measure the relative happiness of large populations by studying Twitter posts in real time. They have since expanded that idea to study happiness and story shapes as expressed in literature (yes, inspired by Vonnegut’s idea). Their About page provides more details on the underlying assumptions, and the Projects link will take you to the Happiness of Stories work.

- Hope (hope.greenberg at uvm.edu<mailto:hope.greenberg at uvm.edu>, Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Vermont)

       Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2016 12:18:03 +0200
       From: Laura Dietz <dietz at informatik.uni-mannheim.de<mailto:dietz at informatik.uni-mannheim.de>>
       Subject: Re:  30.198 tools
       In-Reply-To: <20160724064741.4B49C6AC7 at digitalhumanities.org<mailto:20160724064741.4B49C6AC7 at digitalhumanities.org>>


In the future, I hope that sentences such as
   "we apply tool X on data Y"
are replaced with
   "from data Y we obtain results based on the [CS assumption here] as
this is well aligned with [DH assumption here], because ..."

More information about the Humanist mailing list