[Humanist] 31.248 manipulatory computing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Aug 16 06:56:37 CEST 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 248.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Ken Kahn <toontalk at gmail.com>                             (61)
        Subject: Re:  31.245 manipulatory computing? present state of OCR?

  [2]   From:    David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>             (24)
        Subject: 31.245 manipulatory computing?

  [3]   From:    "Burke, Robin" <rburke at cs.depaul.edu>                     (22)
        Subject: Re: Humanist Digest, Vol 107, Issue 12


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:49:58 +0100
        From: Ken Kahn <toontalk at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  31.245 manipulatory computing? present state of OCR?
        In-Reply-To: <f0a1651c-bde4-4e95-a3b5-405fa320c64f at HUB02.ad.oak.ox.ac.uk>


Regarding

> 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?

To me it depends upon the computational model  one is thinking of-- a
Turing machine is very manipulatory -- the lambda calculus much less so. I
think it is rare these days for people to think about computation models at
the machine language level. Perhaps the popularity of Turing Machines is
that they can be thought of in such concrete terms. I once read that Turing
preferred this but can't find the reference.

Best,

-ken

On 15 August 2017 at 07:58, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 245.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>         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.
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> 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)


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:37:20 +0100
        From: David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: 31.245 manipulatory computing?
        In-Reply-To: <56c14c58-9f7c-404a-a0b2-c092fbbbce49 at HUB01.ad.oak.ox.ac.uk>


Willard

my favourite reference  on what you are calling manipulatory computing is

Livingston, Eric. 2008. Ethnographies of reason. Aldershot: Ashgate 
Publishing.

which includes accounts of how people reason while playing drafts/chequers

I also like his earlier short book
Livingston, Eric. 1987. Making sense of ethnomethodology. London: 
Routledge and Kegan Paul.

which has a very nice chapter on the importance of drawing diagrams as 
part of the process of doing mathematical proofs

best wishes
davidz

-- 
David Zeitlyn,

Professor of Social Anthropology (research). ORCID: 0000-0001-5853-7351

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
University of Oxford
51 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PF, UK.
http://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/people/professor-david-zeitlyn
http://www.mambila.info/ The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf2728/

Oct 2015 open access paper 'Looking Forward, Looking Back'
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2015.1076813

Vestiges: Traces of Record http://www.vestiges-journal.info/ Open access journal



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:33:15 +0000
        From: "Burke, Robin" <rburke at cs.depaul.edu>
        Subject: Re: Humanist Digest, Vol 107, Issue 12
        In-Reply-To: <mailman.9.1502791204.31887.humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org>


> 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?

This is not my area of expertise, but there is considerable work in the area of computer science education and software engineering on the type of mental models used by programmers. One important concept is that of the “notional machine”: “an idealized, conceptual computer whose properties are implied by the constructs in the programming language employed.” 

du Boulay, B., O’Shea, T., & Monk, J. (1989). The black box inside the glass box: presenting computing concepts to novices. In E. Soloway & J.C. Spohrer (Eds.), Studying the novice programmer (pp. 431–446). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Cited in Robins, Anthony, Janet Rountree, and Nathan Rountree. "Learning and teaching programming: A review and discussion." Computer science education 13.2 (2003): 137-172.

Here is a more recent article on this concept:

Sorva, Juha. "Notional machines and introductory programming education." ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) 13.2 (2013): 8.

As you note, different programming languages give rise to different notional machines. Often, notional machines contain physical constructs: such as the physical motion of bits in the shift operator or the concept of a variable as a box where values can be stored. Notional machines can also contain concepts that are more linguistic – models of reference, for example. As an example, see: 

Miller, Craig S. "Metonymy and reference-point errors in novice programming." Computer Science Education 24.2-3 (2014): 123-152.


———————————————————————————————
Robin Burke, Professor
School of Computing, DePaul University
rburke at cs.depaul.edu






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