censoring, editing, and volume of mail, cont. (224)

Thu, 30 Mar 89 20:59:44 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 785. Thursday, 30 Mar 1989.

(1) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 02:03:26 EST (9 lines)
From: "Patrick W. Conner" <U47C2@WVNVM.bitnet>
Subject: censoring, editing, and volume of mail (179)

(2) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:39:40 GMT (49 lines)
From: Donald Spaeth (0532) 33 3573 <ECL6DAS@CMS1.UCS.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject: editing, censorship, and peripheral topics

(3) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 08:00:29 BST (31 lines)
From: Sebastian Rahtz <spqr@CM.SOTON.AC.UK>
Subject: the content of humanist

(4) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 07:28:35 CST (35 lines)
From: Mark Olsen <mark@gide.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Rosanne Potter

(5) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:59 EST (32 lines)
Subject: mail filters, ListServers comment (8 lines)

(6) Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:36 CDT (28 lines)
Subject: HUMANIST Self-Definition

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 02:03:26 EST
From: "Patrick W. Conner" <U47C2@WVNVM.bitnet>
Subject: censoring, editing, and volume of mail (179)

Boys and their toys? Roseanne, I don't think you're being irritable; I
think you're being sexist. Volume of mail we don't care to read can
certainly be a problem, but I daresay that it's less related to gender than
to the likelihood that humanist with their language-centered interests are all
very verbal.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------53----
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:39:40 GMT
From: Donald Spaeth (0532) 33 3573 <ECL6DAS@CMS1.UCS.LEEDS.AC.UK>

Re: Editing, censorship and peripheral topics

Rosanne Potter is recommending the removal (albeit to a b-board) of
the very subjects that I subscribe to HUMANIST in order to read,
namely hardware and software comparisons, evaluations and queries!
As someone who supports (in both senses of the word) the use of
computers by humanists, I find such notes an invaluable means of
finding out about products which meet special needs, a task which
would be far more time-consuming done in other ways, and of
gaining the benefits of others' experiences, both good and bad, with
particular products. I can then pass this information on to those
I serve and use it to make decisions about what we should be putting
in computers which humanists will use. My only complaint in this
area is that it interesting questions are sometimes asked to which
I never see the answers, because these are sent privately. I'd
like to see the answers on HUMANIST, even if it adds to the flood
of mail.

I'm sure we all have subjects which we would like excised from
HUMANIST. My own personal bugbear is just the sort of philosophical
exchange that I suspect the founders wanted to encourage, on such
subjects as hypertext, do "the humanities exist", etc., including
the current debate! If just keeping up with HUMANIST is a major
task, it is largely because of such exchanges. I therefore would
not like to see such debates extended to other issues which have
nothing to do with computing in the humanities (and which have other
forums for expression). But I've learned to skim or skip items which
I can't apply to my job (as interesting as they sometimes are); I
just don't have the time.

In sum, although I am somewhat concerned about the amount of HUMANIST
which arrives in my reader each day, I'd like to keep it as it is.
I like the breadth of subject area, I like the informal exchanges,
I like the detailed information on software and hardware,
and I like the fact that irrelevant and/or offensive contributions
are occasionally omitted. Hats off to Willard for doing such a
good (and, I'm sure, time-consuming) job!

Donald Spaeth
Arts Computing Development Officer
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Janet: ecl6das at leeds.cms1
Bitnet: cms1.leeds.ac.uk
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 08:00:29 BST
From: Sebastian Rahtz <spqr@CM.SOTON.AC.UK>
Subject: the content of humanist

Rosanne Potter wants to take out all the questions about hardware,
Latin, requests for text etc; Willard wants to take out anything that
does not relate to computing (maybe if Salman Rushdie had used OCP on
the Koran it would count?); Joe Giampapa wants all the good stuff
stashed on a LISTSERV server; I want the proportion of HUMANISTs who
are into dead languages cut to a maximum of 50%\footnote¤FLAME ON why
doesn't HUMANIST come out into the open and call itself LITLANG? how
much of the discussion relates to anything except textual material?
FLAME OFF‡. Doesn't leave much, does it?

People consistently compare HUMANIST to a journal; I would say that the
differences are that HUMANIST is much more difficult to read (no
typography, and a nasty screen) but that it comes out MUCH faster. It
suggests to me that the appropriate contents of HUMANIST are items
which are a) timely and b) short. I have received frequent criticism
for writing items which do not not show mature consideration and are
(gasp!) flippant; but if I wanted to publish a long, considered,
reflection on censorship of computer networks, or the problems of
quantification of literature, I would write the piece, get colleagues
to read it, rewrite it (cutting out silly jokes, apologizing to all
known Danes in the word), then publish it somewhere where lots of people
could read it in comfort.

Lets stick to immediacy in HUMANIST.


(4) --------------------------------------------------------------39----
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 07:28:35 CST
From: Mark Olsen <mark@gide.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Rosanne Potter

>> My problem is not censorship, but wasting my precious writing and re-
>> search time dealing with HUMANIST. There are way too many postings
>> on Latin texts, hardware comparisons, requests for texts of this or
>> that. Why can't things like this be put on a bulletin board some
>> where instead of cluttering up my box?

There are a number of good reasons why general distribution of Humanist
messages is important. What good is requesting text xxx if the message
is not read by a wide range of people. I am impressed by the restraint
Humanists exercise in comparison to other e-mail groups. (Ever look
at the csnet discussions?)

>> I am unfortunately getting to the same place I was a year and a half
>> ago, i.e., ready to withdraw my name from HUMANIST. I know I would
>> miss a lot, but now I am missing too much of my own time while I
>> watch what Grace Logan once described as "boys and their toys" mail
>> scrolls across my screen.

Fine. If Rosanne can't figure out how to delete messages she does not
want to read, then she should withdraw. I manage to get through the
"waves" of Humanist messages in a couple of minutes a day, while I'm
sitting at home in the morning with my coffee and newspaper. Hardly
an onerous effort. Willard spends too much of *his* time collecting
our responses in single files for our convenience. In fact, the only
time I waste with Humanist is when I respond to dumb comments...and that
*is* meant to sound irritated.


(5) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:59 EST
Subject: mail filters, ListServers comment (8 lines)

It seems to me that, as we all become more sophisticated uses of
E-mail, the problems of "power users" in a grown-up system loom
larger. There are indeed MUCH nicer systems, technically, which
do the things one hopes for. IBM and others are doing extensive
research on intelligent filters and prioritizers for mail. Compuserve
has a delightful method of both filtering to your choice of about
12-15 broad areas per forum, and then further being able to just
follow notes and replies that branch downstream from a given item.
CONFER-II, at the University of Michigan, provides extensive ways
to establish new forums, new topic areas within forums, and just
pick and choose what one wants to see, read, or reply to.
I've heard good things about Minitel (cheaper than Compuserve)
and some new Minitel spinoff just started in the US.
I'd propose that we all think about ways to get "someone" to
subsidize such forums, in (from my point of view), the National
interest, since they are not incrementally free to use.
Note, for instance, that in Tokyo almost EVERYTHING costs 5-10
times what it does in the US, EXCEPT for a local phone call, which
is something like 0.1 cents. The Japanese appreciate the economic
value of encouraging interpersonal communication. Why don't we,
and, more to the point, who has a deep pocket that we can lobby to
make such a new value system come to pass?
How about some activism, Humanists?

Wade Schuette (WADE@CRNLGSM)
Johnson Graduate School of Management
Cornell U., Ithaca NY USA

(6) --------------------------------------------------------------32----
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 09:36 CDT
Subject: HUMANIST Self-Definition

Part of the problem is that we are working with machines of very different
standards. Some allow swift perusal of the mail, and swift deletion of stuff
that is of no personal interest or lasting value. Others are painfully
slow, and the accumulation of nit-picking, irrelevant and distorted
quotation (*especially* of William Blake), and flamboyant ego-tripping
becomes maddening after a very short while. I don't want not to be
informed of things outside my own immediate specialism - anything may
come in useful some day, and if I've seen a vague reference I can usually
backtrack to discover more when I happen to ned to. I even quite enjoy
being exasperated by some of our fellow-HUMANISTS, as long as they don't
take too long or display too much ignorant conceit. I'm quite happy to
leave serious demarcation disputes to be settled by Willard, and to go to
other lists for whatever rambling discussion I feel the need of today.
As others have said, part of the value of HUMANIST is the provision of
addresses and identities of others with the same interests and relevant
experience: that's why we go on going to conferences - and it's also
why we learn to avoid conference-bores, and try not to become them.
Not every conversation needs to be public. Not every conversation is worth
continuing even in private: people who will keep talking at us when we don't
feel like it have to be dodged or gently discouraged - not because we will
*never* want to continue the conversation, but because there are other
things to do here-now.
As indeed there are right now! Regards, Stephen Clark
(Vanderbilt & Liverpool)