[Humanist] 25.465 working with what one has?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Nov 12 10:19:43 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 465.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 15:57:07 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: without funding

The genre of "acknowledgements" in books provides a chance not often 
taken to comment on the socio-intellectual circumstances of scholarly 
work. Following is one for your collection, and one that answers to a 
thread of discussion that has surfaced more in recent times than earlier. 
It is thanks to Robert Jarvis, who is Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International 
Politics at Columbia. He begins his acknowledgements to System Effects: 
Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton, 1997), co-winner of 
the American Political Science Association's Best Book Award in 
political psychology for 1998, thus:

> At lunch with younger colleagues a number of years ago, I mentioned 
> that a journal had just rejected my latest article. They could hardly 
> disguise their relief at learning that this doesn't happen just to 
> them. In this spirit I would like to say that several private 
> foundations and public funding agencies declined to support this research.
> So my debts are intellectual only.

I have perhaps mentioned before that my first great lesson along these 
lines came from a seminar given by Dr. Rangaswamy Narasimhan 
(http://hindu.com/2007/09/04/stories/2007090455531100.htm) at the 
International Semiotics Symposium in Toronto in 1987. For several 
days we sat in a room and, with Narasimhan's guidance, imagined 
a computing system capable of learning as a child learns. Narasimhan 
knew quite a bit about the developmental psychology of children. What 
I didn't know then was that he had designed the first general purpose 
computer in India. How thrilling those days with him were!

Of course he had no end of funding at the Tata Institute of Fundamental 
Research, and of course Jarvis had all the while support in the form 
of a professorship at Columbia. But there is, I think, a lesson to be 
learned about what one can do with what one has.



Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's 
College London; Professor (fractional), 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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