[Humanist] 31.205 innovation?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jul 26 10:16:18 CEST 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 205.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:03:39 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: innovation

We talk quite a lot about innovation as a virtue of thinking and acting 
digitally but do not always, or even very often, distinguish it from 
novelty. Perhaps the following will help.

> The 'act' of observing something for the first time presupposes the
> activity that rendered it visible. Once you have learned how to see
> something, the activity becomes unimportant or second nature - it
> passes into what Polanyi called peripheral awareness. It is easy to
> suppose that the cases we are aware of - where we seem to 'see' first
> and then record what we then say we have observed - are typical of
> all seeing. Most of our seeing is like this because for most of what
> we experience, the perceptual stage is already set.... we have a
> repertoire of images and concepts which we bring to the task of
> selecting or depicting just those aspects of experience we wish to
> record or communicate. This repertoire is usually adequate to the
> task and its use is therefore usually tacit. The repertoire itself
> remains imperceptible until we encounter (or are asked to share) an
> experience which does not readily fit our available renderings.
> Novelty brings the repertoire into focal awareness.

David Gooding, Experiment and the Making of Meaning (Kluwer 1990): 74f

In its development as an appliance, computing has become quite 
successfully mimetic of our daily activities, but when defamiliarised, 
considered in the basic strangeness of its digital logic, does it not 
serve us as well or better in bringing our non-digital repertoire into 
focal awareness? Gooding writes of "how much stage-setting is needed for 
observers to have similar experiences of novel phenomena"; then the 
stage-setting is taken for granted, we become involved in the world 
unfolding in the play. I would have both the seamless affordances to 
my reading and writing, and the instrument for probing the difference 
between all-or-nothing and the continuum in between. Is the 
forward-moving, constantly changing but spinoff-producing digital 
medium just what the doctor ordered?


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, 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)

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