[Humanist] 30.388 flowcharts?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Oct 6 08:18:51 CEST 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 388.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2016 07:09:41 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: flowcharts

At the moment I am working on the history of flowcharting and related 
practices, in part to discover what those practices are and how they may 
be considered related. The organizational chart is an example of a close 
relation; a map showing movement of goods, services, people is an 
example of a distant one, I would suppose. But my question here is 
strictly focused on the fading away of flowcharting (if indeed it has 
faded away) as a programming practice.

I'm aware that there are programming practices in which it would never 
occur to the programmer to use one. I'd suppose that flowchart-like 
whiteboard sketches are still used to think through a programming 
design. What I am supposing has gone for good is the detailed flowchart 
made before a programming task begins, except perhaps in a large 
organization where the programming is divided into separate groups. In 
situations in which a programmer and a client meet to work out what 
might be done, does the flowchart ever come into use as a medium of 
thinking through the computational process?

In the good/bad old days technically minded academics occasionally 
published flowcharts in their papers, e.g. in Dell Hymes, ed., The Use 
of Computers in Anthropology (The Hague: Mouton, 1965). I'd be very 
surprised if that has happened this century but would love to be 

Can anyone help with real-life experience? I'd especially like to know 
what anyone thinks a flowchart communicates -- tacitly, subliminally as 
well as explicitly and rationally -- to the non-technically minded scholar. 

Thanks very much.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney

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