[Humanist] 30.446 and more on flowcharts

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 29 07:16:04 CEST 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 446.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Henry Schaffer <hes at ncsu.edu>                             (60)
        Subject: Re:  30.406 even more on flowcharts?

  [2]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (24)
        Subject: Flow Chart and flowcharts


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:33:47 -0400
        From: Henry Schaffer <hes at ncsu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  30.406 even more on flowcharts?
        In-Reply-To: <20161012060638.852C28165 at digitalhumanities.org>


  There are many humorous examples of real flowcharts, one that every
engineer will recognize is the classic "Does it Move" one, e.g.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/7214525854 which does a good job of
communicating to the public.

  I started out using flowcharts as the first step in programming a
computer, but have moved to the use of "pseudocode" which I find to be a
better preparation for writing computer code. I also use this in teaching
as I find it to be a good way to communicate with both non-programmers and
beginning programmers. E.g. here is an example for an elementary text
processing program:

while there is text left to read {
     read in line
     split into words
     for each one of these words, increment count
}
print words with count of each

where the { } indicate the grouping for iteration so that the printing
doesn't happen until all the text is processed. I find that the flowchart
can show iteration, it is not as easy to understand and that gets worse
with nested iteration. (Note that this example does have nested iteration -
it's implicit in the 4th line of the pseudocode - but it is easy for a
non-programmer to understand.)

  The history of the flowchart certainly goes much further back than
computing. One example is the depiction of metabolic pathways in
biochemistry. E.g. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid_cycle
which dates back to the 1930's. But a biochemist/biologist would never
refer to that a "flowchart".

--henry schaffer

On Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 2:06 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 406.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 06:56:23 +0100
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: even more on flowcharts
>
>
> In this post-programming phase of flowchart's history, what role does the
> flowcharts play in the public sphere?
>
> There are a few serious ones I have encountered, e.g. in a hospital
> Accident
> & Emergency room. Otherwise the ones I find are almost all humorous, in
> cartoons (to use Scott McCloud's distinction between them and comics). The
> question is, why are they humorous, and what does this tell us about the
> public view of computational reasoning?
>
> Reflections (and references to studies) most welcome.
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> University


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 21:59:35 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Flow Chart and flowcharts
        In-Reply-To: <20161012060638.852C28165 at digitalhumanities.org>


> Still in the published city but not yet
> overtaken by a new form of despair, I ask
> the diagram: is it the foretaste of pain
> it might easily be? Or an emptiness
> so sudden it leaves the girders
> whanging in the absence of wind,
> the sky milk-blue and astringent? We know life is so busy,
> but a larger activity shrouds it, and this is something
> we can never feel, except occasionally, in small signs
> put up to warn us and as soon expunged, in part
> or wholly.

That's the first few lines of the American poet John Ashbery's long poem 
"Flow Chart" (1992). Having just received the book (of slightly more 
than 200 pages) I haven't read it yet, but a quick search of it tells me 
that "diagram" is mentioned 3 times, "flow chart" only in the title, 
"chart but once" and "flow" (plus inflected and compound forms) 11 
times. Reading it is in order :-). Has anyone commented on the relation 
between the poem and the (long-ago) programmer's flowchart?

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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