[Humanist] 23.377 who sustains what for whom, and how?
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 17 10:06:13 CEST 2009
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 377.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2009 08:56:13 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: who sustains for whom?
Francois Lachance has written asking me to excavate an old posting and
try out the question I asked in it, five years ago, once again with a
somewhat different emphasis. The old posting is Humanist 17.759, on the
sustainability of digital academic resources. Then I asked,
>> To the extent I hear what urban planners are talking about these days, I've
>> noticed the term "sustainability". This, it seems to me, bespeaks more
>> wisdom than "innovation". Sustainability concerns should also be high on
>> the agenda of those who deal with electronic resources. Beyond the
>> technical questions (which are hard ones, to be sure) is the one I'd like
>> to raise here: how do we keep things such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of
>> Philosophy going financially and editorially?
> I am asking for the reposting because it touches upon a theme which has run through the recent
> explorations of the early discourse and reception of cybernetics: for whom does the scientist/scholar work?
> (it's a corollary of with whom...)
Another way of asking this question is to ask the epistemological
question: what is knowledge in relation to these resources? Much of the
talk that happens in relation to their construction implies that
knowledge is like bricks, cumulative and stable, and that to know
something is to possess one or more of these representative objects, or
share its possession. The metaphor doesn't work very well of course, not
least because to know something does not diminish the knowledge of
someone else who also knows it. Much of our disciplinary/departmental
organization seems to orbit this bad metaphor.
Since knowledge cannot be possessed like a brick or even shared like
one, then do we say that knowing is the point? If so, then what do we
work to sustain, and how do we sustain it? What does this say about that
which we call the digital library?
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.
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