[Humanist] 31.126 unrecognised

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Jun 23 07:56:42 CEST 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 126.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:04:26 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: powerful without being mentioned

In "The idea of mathematical models and modelling in 20th century" [1], 
Tinne Hoff Kjeldsen writes: "it seems to be the case that as 
mathematics becomes more important its role seems to become less visible 
-- a point that is reflected in the recent EU policy for research and 
innovation, Horizon 2020. Mathematics and mathematical modelling will be 
a key component of many of the areas of expertise in the call, though 
without being mentioned explicitly." (p. 672) The same, I expect, is 
true of digital analytics, simulation, visualisation and other methods 
cultivated in digital humanities. 

We have much less cause to be wary of the mathematical skills in 
the kinds of work addressed. For one thing no one has any problem 
recognising mathematics as an equal nor with institutional provision of
the means to gain its skills. But digital humanities is another matter.

Kjeldsen writes in the context of the workshop in which his talk was given, 
"From 'Mixed' to 'Applied' Mathematics: Tracing an important dimension 
of mathematics and its history" [*]. This workshop attests, the organizers 
say, to the fact that,

> we have to deal with a field of interactions of the production of
> mathematical knowledge with a large and variable number of
> scientific, technological and social areas beyond the core
> disciplines of 'pure' mathematics... Moreover, the very notion of the
> 'application' of ready-made mathematical methods and knowledge to
> extra-mathematical domains is problematic; in fact in many cases
> mathematical methods emerged from interactions with such domains,
> thereby changing and challenging the existing ideas about
> mathematics.

Note especially: "mathematical methods emerged from interactions with 
such domains". The common term in digital humanities, 'application', 
is just as problematic for the reason given -- it is one-way, 
service-orientated rather than collegial. The creativity in the interaction 
goes largely unrecognised.



[*] Report to the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach on the 
outcome of its workshop; see https://www.mfo.de/occasion/1310/www_view

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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