[Humanist] 25.205 the subtle changes?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Aug 1 22:27:00 CEST 2011


                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 205.
          Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org


Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2011 06:22:13 +1000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: the subtle changes

Computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, famously author of Eliza, in "On
the impact of the computer on society", Science NS 176.4305 (May 1972),
wrote that,

> the direct societal effects of any pervasive new technology are as
> nothing compared to its much more subtle and ultimately much more
>  important side effects. (p. 609)

Surveying the cultural effects of the sciences, Weizenbaum thought that in
concert with them the computer was helping to bring about "a crisis in the
mental life of our civilization". As extreme as his pronouncement may seem
to be, I think there's a strong argument in favour that survives those Cold
War days.

Apart from that, however, I am interested in knowing what you think are the
big changes in store for us that tend to escape our notice because they
appear technically or theoretically uninteresting. For example, how about
the effects of large-scale accumulation of online resources? Ignore for the
sake of argument all the interesting problems of how these are best accessed
and presented online or, for example, what text-analysis software the texts
require, or what markup problems they present. Consider, if you will, simply
the masses of stuff. What does it mean for scholarship to have all this to
hand? Does the TLG have anything to teach us here? Perseus?

Yours,
WM

--
Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's
College London; Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western
Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.isr-journal.org);
Editor, Humanist (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/




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