[Humanist] 27.311 historical documents on project management

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Sep 3 08:12:49 CEST 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 311.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Seth van Hooland <svhoolan at ulb.ac.be>                     (47)
        Subject: Re:  27.308 historical documents on project management

  [2]   From:    Geoffrey Rockwell <grockwel at ualberta.ca>                  (17)
        Subject: Fawlty Towers


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Sep 2013 08:55:15 +0200
        From: Seth van Hooland <svhoolan at ulb.ac.be>
        Subject: Re:  27.308 historical documents on project management
        In-Reply-To: <20130902054401.043BC303D at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Geoffrey,

I have used "The management myth: why the experts keep getting it wrong" by Matthew Stewart as an easy to read eye-opener for my students on the topic of management and consultancy. Stewart combines a historical overview of management paradigms, combined with (often hilarious) examples of his own consultancy experiences. This short review puts it in a good context http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/10/12/091012crat_atlarge_lepore.

Kind regards, 

Seth van Hooland
Président du Master en Sciences et Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (MaSTIC)
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 CP 123  | 1050 Bruxelles
http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~svhoolan/
http://twitter.com/#!/sethvanhooland
http://mastic.ulb.ac.be
0032 2 650 4765
Office: DC11.102

> 
> 
>>>                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 304.
>>>           Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>>>                      www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>>>               Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>>       Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 13:01:13 -0600
>>>       From: Geoffrey Rockwell <grockwel at ualberta.ca>
>>>       Subject: Historical Documents for Project Management
>>> 
>>> Dear Humanists,
>>> 
>>> Can anyone suggest interesting readings for a course on project
>>> management in the digital humanities. I am not looking so much for
>>> contemporary advice on how to manage projects - there is certainly plenty
>>> of that. I am looking for documents of historical importance in the
>>> evolution of our thinking about project management or documents important
>>> to the ways the digital humanities has come to think of itself as
>>> involved in projects.
>>> 
>>> Some examples I have found include "The Mythical Man-Month" essay by Fred
>>> Brooks. Another is "The Project Manager" by Paul Gaddis which was
>>> published in 1959 in The Harvard Business Review.
>>> 
>>> To be frank I would welcome any suggestions that are well written,
>>> accessible to graduate students, and which promote reflection on project
>>> management and its discourses.
>>> 
>>> Yours,
>>> 
>>> Geoffrey Rockwell




--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Sep 2013 12:35:37 -0600
        From: Geoffrey Rockwell <grockwel at ualberta.ca>
        Subject: Fawlty Towers
        In-Reply-To: <20130902054401.043BC303D at digitalhumanities.org>

Martin Mueller mentioned that "Perhaps Fawlty Towers should have a place in the 
bibliography of how (not) to manage projects." I agree completely and I am 
reminded that John Cleese was one of the founders of Video Arts which has 
released some funny management videos starring Cleese, Ricky Gervais, Hugh 
Laurie and others. The problem with these is their cost, though bits have made it 
onto YouTube like an older clip from "Meetings Bloody Meetings" at 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWYnVt-umSA

While I am at it and associating things, another work about information management 
is the 1957 movie "Desk Set" with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn which deals 
with the introduction of computers into a research department of a broadcasting 
company. Here is my transcription of an exchange from the movie that touches on 
electronic texts:

<quote>
Richard Sumner (Tracy): The purpose of this machine, of course, is to free the worker…

Bunny Watson (Hepburn): You can say that again…

Sumner: ... to free the worker from the routine and repetitive tasks and liberate his 
time for more important work. For example, you see all those books there ... and 
the ones up there? Well, every fact in them has been fed into Emmy. What do you 
have there?

Operator: This is Hamlet.

Boss: That's Hamlet?

Operator: Yes the entire text.

Sumner: In code, of course ... Now these little cards create electronic impulses 
which are accepted and retained by the machine so that in the future, if anyone 
calls up and wants a quotation from Hamlet the research worker types it into the 
machine here, Emmi goes to work, and the answer comes out here.
</quote>

We might ask whether machines have freed academic workers and whether it freed 
them of their jobs too. How have computers changed the administration and staffing 
of the university?

Note: Canadian readers may recognize Bunny Watson as the name of a CBC radio 
program that ran until 2006. The program was named after Hepburn's character 
Bunny Watson - a librarian who "associates many things with many things".

Yours, by association,

Geoffrey Rockwell




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