[Humanist] 30.469 models and cartoons

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Nov 8 07:37:13 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 469.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2016 12:03:02 +0100
        From: Tim Smithers <tim.smithers at cantab.net>
        Subject: Re:  30.463 models and cartoons?
        In-Reply-To: <20161104080902.0EA1A822A at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

Back when I taught a Knowledge Representation and Inference
course (on an MSc offered by the AI Department, as it then
was, at Edinburgh University) I sometimes (only half jokingly)
told students the computational knowledge representations we
built were better thought of as cartoons, rather than well
designed formal models, of some kind of good reasoning.

To work well, like cartoons, our computational representations
needed to pick out some easily recognisable aspect, feature,
object, person, situation in the world, to use exaggeration to
emphasise salient properties of these, and employ plenty of
simplification to remove (intended) meaning obscuring clutter.

An understanding of how cartoons work often proved useful for
building and making work computational representation and
reasoning systems.  It's just that our cartoons were not meant
to be funny.  The ways they failed occasionally were though,
but mostly just embarrassing.

Best regards,

Tim

> On 04 Nov 2016, at 09:09, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 463.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2016 07:57:52 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: models and cartoons
> 
> In Understanding Comics (1993), Scott McCloud makes a distinction 
> between comics and cartoons, in the process of which he argues for 
> cartooning "as a form of amplification through simplification" (p. 30). 
> It occurs to me that the same could be said of modelling, i.e. that the 
> necessary simplification at any one stage of modelling is not only 
> reductive, by leaving out parts or aspects of the thing modelled, but 
> also expansive, by including more variants. For any given model the 
> latter is bad from the perspective of disciplines or specialisms that 
> focus on unique particulars, good to those that reach for law-like 
> regularities. But as a dynamic processes, cartoon-ing and model-ing 
> leave those regularities counterfactual, hypothetical, entities of the 
> imagination.
> 
> Who has worked along such lines?
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> University




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