[Humanist] 28.191 the indispensible become invisible

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jul 8 22:55:22 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 191.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:27:26 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: importance and reputation

The following is from R. I. G. Hughes, "The Ising model, computer 
simulation, and universal physics", in Morgan and Morrison, Models as 
mediators (1999):

> It is a curious fact that the index of The New Physics (Davies 1989),
> an anthology of eighteen substantial essays on recent developments in
> physics, contains only one entry on the topics of computers and
> computer simulation. Curious, because the computer is an
> indispensable tool in contemporary research. To different degrees,
> its advent has changed not just the way individual problems are
> addressed but also the sort of enterprise in which theorists engage,
> and hence the kind of theory that they propose.... In The New Physics
> the beautiful pictures of fractal structures that illustrate the
> essay on chaos theory...are, of course, computer generated.
> Yet, perhaps because it runs counter to the mythology of theoretical
> practice, that fact is mentioned neither in the captions that
> accompany the pictures nor elsewhere in the text. The indispensable
> has become invisible. (p. 97)

How do we go about changing the "mythology" (a.k.a. master narrative) of 
the various scholarly disciplines for which computing has become 
similarly indispensable?



Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney

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