[Humanist] 24.738 theorizing the Web

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Feb 24 07:38:28 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 738.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Postles, David A. (Dr.)" <pot at leicester.ac.uk>            (5)
        Subject: theorizing the Web

  [2]   From:    Peter Batke <batke_p at hotmail.com>                         (30)
        Subject: theorizing the web

        Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 13:34:53 +0000
        From: "Postles, David A. (Dr.)" <pot at leicester.ac.uk>
        Subject: theorizing the Web

'..And, for the record, please note
that Microsoft has in the opinion of some been displaced in the
blacklist by Google. For the curious: google (of course) for "google
evil empire".

Or, in the opinion of others, Apple:  Google Wintek and toxic cleaner - add that to Foxconn.

        Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2011 06:07:44 +0000
        From: Peter Batke <batke_p at hotmail.com>
        Subject: theorizing the web

> Yesterday, for the 1000th time, I caught myself muttering as I walked 
> away from my machine, "I hate computers!!!" But, I must admit, they do 
> give us much to investigate.
I am shocked to hear that Willard routinely mutters: "I hate computers."
Perhaps it is time to take away his computers, his internet access, his e-book reader and anything else that may be construed as an electronic device. His files and printouts shall be given to someone else, and he can keep anything handwritten or anything actually typed on a typewriter. He should be allowed to have a "pensioner's phone" with extra large keys but no smart functions.
I am sure Willard has enough accumulated humanistic savvy that he could continue to teach "digital humanities" without specific reference to computers till he comes to the end of "the far side of his career."
I think that would be appropriate penance for having bitten - at least 1000 times - the hand that has fed him, by his own admission. I can only marvel at the patience of that nurturing hand.
Et tu Willard ??
My own take, having passed through the "far side of my career" some time ago is that computers will nourish me well into my dotage. I hope to stave off dementia by playing Civilization III. That strategy is supported by the latest research.
I am equally shocked how easily some humanists postings are finding evil empires. I agree that Gates et al were caught in a paradigm shift that engulfed them and forced them into predatory practices and left us with a series of flawed products. On occasion, I still light a candle for the victims at shrines for the Blessed Virgin Mary around Salzburg and Bavaria.
Yet I am amazed how quickly Google is painted with the same brush. It seems colleagues are still engulfed in shifts without knowing it.
I would suggest we might consider a brave thought of Siva Vaidhyanathan, UVA, of whose work I know only a few snippets:
"Google," Vaidhyanathan observes, "is an example of a stunningly successful firm behaving as much like a university as it can afford to." I hope to read more when I return to my office.
I am tempted to embroider on this idea. Google may well afford to be a quite spectacular university - not like the robber barons of the past who made billions with coal and oil or dry goods and endowed universities to salve their conscience - but rather by making the very essence of humanistic and scientific work their stock in trade. Google may be our best hope of the long awaited mathematization of text research. Finally we have a corporation that probably knows more about the work of Bayes and Markov than the people at UMASS and CMU. I would remind everyone that at some time in our not so recent past (14-15 c.), monasteries far outstripped universities in many areas of science, cartography being just one example. I will let the experts complete the analogy.
Buck up Professor Willard. All in good fun...
cheers, from the beaches of North Carolina, Peter Batke batke_p at hotmail.com

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