[Humanist] 31.245 manipulatory computing? present state of OCR?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Aug 15 08:58:51 CEST 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 245.
            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>          (32)
        Subject: manipulatory?

  [2]   From:    Ryan Cordell <rccordell at gmail.com>                        (26)
        Subject: Report on the present & future of humanities OCR

        Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:26:51 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: manipulatory?

A while back we were discussing the role of mathematics in thinking at 
what I like to call the 'base-level' of digital research, that is, with 
awareness of the all-or-nothing logic that governs the operations of the 
machine and the combinatorics that it makes possible. At this level 
what happens is rather close to the Sino-Japanese game of go, and at 
a further remove any sort of manipulatory operation that people use to 
reckon, i.e. count, account, think, play.

My question is this: what is the relation between physical manipulatory 
reckoning (in all those senses) and reasoning with computers as we know 
them now? In the days when I did assembler-language programming I 
thought of many of the instructions (e.g. 'shift left accumulator 2 
bits') quite physically, imagining the hardware as if bits were moved in 
space from one slot to another. The very language of those instructions 
encoded the kinaesthetics of calculation (calculus, 'small stone'). I'd 
guess we don't think like that now. But is that so? Are there any studies 
e.g. in cognitive psychology which bear on this question?

We are able to ignore sub-vocalisation when it happens while we're 
reading. Are we ignoring some kind of kinaesthesis when we're computing 
these days? To draw on Aden Evens' argument in Logic of the Digital, the 
equivalent to shifting bits is our alphabetic (or alphabetically inspired) 
typing on the keyboard and clicking or not clicking the mouse on this 
or that provided icon -- all choices among discrete (rather than 
continuous), software-defined possibilities.

Any references to writings from cognitive psychology or elsewhere would 
be greatly appreciated.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
Sydney University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)

        Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2017 15:49:37 +0000
        From: Ryan Cordell <rccordell at gmail.com>
        Subject: Report on the present & future of humanities OCR

Dear Humanist colleagues,

In 2016-2017 the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern
University will study the current state of optical character recognition
(OCR) for historical and multilingual documents and write a report
outlining future directions for research in this area. This study is funded
by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and emerged from collaborative
conversations between Mellon, the National Endowment for the Humanities,
and the Library of Congress. We hope the report will serve as a catalyst
for further OCR research and help the community move forward best practices
for digital collections using OCR data.

We are seeking input from the scholarly communities invested in historical
and multilingual OCR, including but not limited to: humanities researchers
employing text mining and analysis; humanities researchers drawing on
findings from keyword search in historical databases; computer scientists
researching OCR; and library professionals creating, maintaining, or
developing tools on top of OCR-derived collections.

We have prepared a brief community survey, which is available (along with a
longer project description) at http://ocr.northeastern.edu/. Though it's
often hidden, OCR is a domain that affects most of us: please consider
adding your experiences and ideas to our survey. Thank you in advance for
your help!

Ryan Cordell

Assistant Professor of English | Northeastern University |
r.cordell at northeastern.edu | rccordell at gmail.com | twitter: @ryancordell |

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