[Humanist] 25.341 basic scholarship?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 1 06:40:43 CEST 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 341.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 07:22:03 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: basic scholarship?

In their Turing Award lecture, "Computer Science as Empirical Inquiry: 
Symbols and Search" (CACM 19.3: March 1976), Allen Newell and Herbert 
Simon wrote as follows about their discipline:

> We build computers and programs for many reasons. We build them to
> serve society and as tools for carrying out the economic tasks of
> society. But as basic scientists we build machines and programs as a
> way of discovering new phenomena and analyzing phenomena we already
> know about. Society often becomes confused about this, believing that
> computers and programs are to be constructed only for the economic
> use that can be made of them (or as intermediate items in a
> developmental sequence leading to such use). It needs to understand
> that the phenomena surrounding computers are deep and obscure,
> requiring much experimentation to assess their nature. It needs to
> understand that, as in any science, the gains that accrue from such
> experimentation and understanding pay off in the permanent
> acquisition of new techniques; and that it is these techniques that
> will create the instruments to help society in achieving its goals.

My question is this: changing what needs to be changed, how much of what 
goes on in the digital humanities satisfies their criterion as what they 
would call basic science?


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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