[Humanist] 30.420 friendly introductions

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Oct 19 08:01:38 CEST 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 420.
            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>          (30)
        Subject: more on friendly introductions

  [2]   From:    Domenico Fiormonte <domenico.fiormonte at gmail.com>         (64)
        Subject: Re:  30.416 friendly introductions

  [3]   From:    Simon Rae <simon.rae at gmail.com>                           (58)
        Subject: Re:  30.412 friendly introductions?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2016 06:47:51 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: more on friendly introductions


Thanks for the suggestions of books that have taken up the burden of 
providing a friendly introduction to computing. In my query I didn't say 
much about what exactly I am looking for. Allow me to do that now.

Reading the books, esp those published in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, from 
the perspective of the second decade of the 21st Century provides a 
curious experience. Except when the AI folks get a bit further with what 
they can make computers do, and the journalists project the advance into 
the future, sometimes quite reasonably, we seldom worry as our 
colleagues once did. I'm digging into the worries. The friendly, esp the
analgesic books provide a kind of evidence. Thus a book (costly to 
produce) whose message is "You have nothing to worry about!" indicates 
the worry.

Furthermore, the friendly books are evidence for scholars taking the 
bait of pre-packaged "solutions" and so turning away from dealing with 
the machine in their own scholarly terms. Why worry about the nature(s) 
of historical data when dBase II is sitting there on the shelf alongside 
a friendly book showing how easy it is to use? Back then the learning 
curve was otherwise exceedingly steep and time limited as always, so we 
must not judge too severely. But, as a result, much was not done that 
remains and needs to be done. As a few said back then, starting with the 
machine and all the marvellous things it can do, with however much 
charity in one's heart, puts the situation the wrong way around and 
inhibits true innovation.

Comments? More books?

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, 18 Oct 2016 16:25:40 +0200
        From: Domenico Fiormonte <domenico.fiormonte at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  30.416 friendly introductions
        In-Reply-To: <20161018051158.BC4678161 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

I guess you are looking for books written in English, but for my generation
of Italian computer-illiterates the most gentle introduction to computing
was

Giuseppe Gigliozzi,
Letteratura, modelli e computer. Manuale teorico-pratico per
l'applicazione  dell'informatica al lavoro letterario, Euroma La
Goliardica, Rome, 1993.

Although presented as in  introduction to literary computing (one of the
first published in a language other than English), it provided a friendly
and enjoyable reading for everyone interested in learning the basic
computing concepts. Indeed, Giuseppe's sense of humour and witty metaphors
for explaining how the computer worked became legend among his students. Is
thanks to his friendly teaching and writing style that a generation of
humanities students were attracted by the arcane world of computers.

Best,

Domenico


> >                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 412.
> >             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
> >                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
> >                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> >
> >
> >
> >         Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2016 06:13:48 +0100
> >         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> >         Subject: friendly introductions
> >
> > This question will only be answerable by those old enough to have been
> > an academic when computers were relatively new to the humanities. I'm
> > looking for recommendations of introductory texts -- specifically books,
> > chiefly monographs -- that attempted to make "the computer" approachable
> > and understandable to those who were or might have been somewhat
> > tentative about computers. Examples are Feldman and Norman, The
> > Wordworthy Computer  (1987); Shore, The Sachertorte Algorithm (1985);
> > Evans, The Mighty Micro (1979); Laver, An Introduction to the Uses of
> > Computers (1976); Schneider, Travels in Computerland (1974); Shorter,
> > The historian and the computer (1962).
> >
> > The category of book I am interested in does not include books such as
> > Abercrombie, Computer programs for literary analysis (1984), or Oakman,
> > Computer methods (1980), or any of Susan Hockey's fine introductory
> > texts. These address people who have put behind them, or into a robustly
> > locked closet, any such tentativeness. They want to get started.
> >
> > I am also not looking for studies that report on or discuss specific
> > research done with a computer, such as Hymes, The use of computers in
> > anthropology (1962), or Bowles, Computers in humanistic research (1967).
> > Nor does it include books focusing on or speaking from an interest in
> > artificial intelligence, such as Sluckin, Minds and machines (1954), or
> > Feigenbaum and Feldman, Computers and thought (1963).
> >
> > But if you have or know of books which take the temperature of former
> > times with respect to computing please let me know what these are.
> >
> > Many thanks.
> >
> > Yours,
> > WM
> > --
> > Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> > Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> > University


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:19:40 +0100
        From: Simon Rae <simon.rae at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  30.412 friendly introductions?
        In-Reply-To: <20161017052205.447678176 at digitalhumanities.org>


Well ... I enjoyed reading

Computer Lib; Dream Machine
by Theodore (Ted) H. Nelson (1974).

Some reviews here:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/722414.Computer_Lib_Dream_Machines

Cheers
Simon

retired Lecturer in Professional Development
Twitter: @simonrae


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