[Humanist] 24.620 importance of trivial changes

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Dec 28 09:07:19 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 620.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2010 17:06:16 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the importance of theoretically trivial changes

In our nervous if not neurotic search for "evidence of value" we tend 
unsurprisingly to look for theoretically sophisticated changes that 
digital tools and methods have made. We tend to miss the simplest 
things, such as the simple fact of online access and publication -- 
individually a small change in one's life but persistent over a long 
time, like the drops of very soft water than wear away the hard stone. 
The fact that changes like this come digitally does not seem to bolster 
any arguments for digital scholarship, or about it, but they do, or 
could. My favourite argument for the profound importance of these simple 
changes focuses on JSTOR and its kind, specifically on the effects 
access to scholarship across many disciplines has on disciplinary focus. 
But another just popped into The New Republic, and seems worth a look: 
Noam Scheiber's "Game Changer: Why Wikileaks will be the death of big 
business and big government", 

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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