[Humanist] 24.198 how sweetly tweet

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Jul 17 22:05:38 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 198.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2010 05:57:23 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: what is poetry?

With Jascha Kessler's latest, in Humanist 24.195, once again we arrive 
at what seems to me the fundamental question to which computing always 
leads the questioner: what is X that it may be computed? Here I am 
taking "computed" to mean whatever is done by computing systems that 
signifiantly affects X. In this case: if a tweet can be a poem, then 
what is poetry? But as this example shows, the question leads us away 
from the specifics of digital machinery to any set of constraints put on 
a human cultural expression, i.e. to any language (verbal, mathematical, 
graphical etc). And if this is an interesting limb out on which to 
crawl, then we might ask: what possible languages, with what degree of 
expressive richness, can be formed on the basis of the digital machinery 
we have? In each case how does the basic digitality of the expressive 
form affect what is said?

When trying out stray thoughts for their strength and potential, I also 
like to ask, am I making sense?

How do we rescue such discussions as the one which prompted the above 
from becoming a YES IT IS / NO IT ISN'T squabble?

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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