[Humanist] 30.475 interfaces, models and cartoons

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Nov 9 07:26:40 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 475.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (14)
        Subject: interface figuration to interface implementation

  [2]   From:    "Norman Gray" <norman at astro.gla.ac.uk>                    (42)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 30.469 models and cartoons


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2016 06:56:20 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: interface figuration to interface implementation


Let us take these elements and imagine: thanks to Francois Lachance, 
Mark Ford's

> The arrow-headed cursor points
> Into space, but glides like a shark between
> Sandbar and reef

David Cronenberg's eXistenZ (and with it gaming design) and Jerome 
McGann's IVANHOE. Properly done, what a scholars' experimental 
machine that would be!

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


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2016 10:53:17 +0000
        From: "Norman Gray" <norman at astro.gla.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 30.469 models and cartoons
        In-Reply-To: <20161108063713.D5DA0820B at digitalhumanities.org>


Greetings.

On 8 Nov 2016, at 6:37, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> Who has worked along such lines?

My colleague Hugh Hudson has long curated an archive of solar physics 
cartoons, now at  http://solarmuri.ssl.berkeley.edu/~hhudson/cartoons/ . 

Solar physics studies a complicated and highly dynamic system -- the 
upper layers and atmosphere of the sun -- which is well understood on 
the micro-scale (it's 'just' electromagnetism and plasma physics), 
but much less well understood on the macro-scale, full of 
counterintuitive emergent effects and interactions.

Like other areas of astronomy, but unlike other areas of physics, solar 
physics is an observational rather than an experimental science.  It 
therefore can't simplify the object of its study, and must instead 
simplify its explanation of the rich multi-wavelength imagery it 
collects.  'What is happening in this picture...?'

Willard said:

> 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.

I would distinguish a cartoon, which is impressionistic and expository, 
from a model, which operationalises an understanding of the 'important' 
aspects of a system.  Thus a model is concrete enough (mathematically) 
that it can be simulated or calculated with, and indeed is capable of 
being shown to be inadequate in a particular context.

I think that biologists also use 'model systems' to refer to particular 
species, such as mice or fruit-flies or E. Coli, which are particularly 
suitable for particular types of study 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_organism>.  I'm not sure what 
specific sense of 'model' this usage is picking up, nor quite how it 
fits into Willard's argument here.

Best wishes,

Norman

-- 
Norman Gray  :  https://nxg.me.uk
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK





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