3.511 Humanist and e-mail (206)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 28 Sep 89 19:17:16 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 511. Thursday, 28 Sep 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 17:43:23 EDT (20 lines)
From: cbf@faulhaber.Berkeley.EDU (Charles Faulhaber)
Subject: Re: 3.504 Humanist (109)

(2) Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 23:19 ADT (12 lines)
Subject: Academic Vs. Electronic

(3) Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 19:01:30 CDT (46 lines)
From: Natalie Maynor <MAYNOR@MSSTATE>
Subject: HUMANIST/James O'Donnell

(4) Date: Thu, 28 Sep 89 11:04:34 BST (54 lines)
From: Donald Spaeth <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: Essential purpose of HUMANIST

(5) Date: 27 Sep 89 21:51:40 EST (38 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: slow-motion replay

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 17:43:23 EDT
From: cbf@faulhaber.Berkeley.EDU (Charles Faulhaber)
Subject: Re: 3.504 Humanist (109)

I find HUMANIST both amusing and useful. Lost hearts became
tedious after a while, and I do indeed use it for technical
information. If you're not a true tekkie and don't read
the computer journals, it becomes extraordinarily difficult
to answer even very simple questions. To suggest that I work
my way through the labyrinthine procedures of our local
computer center staff to find out about Mac fonts is to
ignore the reality of the way many (most?) faculty members

Charles B. Faulhaber
Department of Spanish
UC Berkeley CA 94720
bitnet: ked@ucbgarne
internet: cbf@faulhaber.berkeley.edu
telephone: (415) 642-2107
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------18----
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 23:19 ADT
Subject: Academic Vs. Electronic

I couldn't agree more with the comments by Ken Steele on why Humanists
use e-mail and computer discussion groups. I am not particularly
interested in the technical subjects but long for more academic
discussions (isn't Schopenhauer right about the World as Will and
Representation?). I also wonder about the silence of ENGLISH and
LITERARY. I sent a message to the former about a week ago but
never saw it again. Did something go wrong with the transfer of
the discussion group to its new base in Texas?
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 19:01:30 CDT
From: Natalie Maynor <MAYNOR@MSSTATE>
Subject: HUMANIST/James O'Donnell

Several weeks ago, when Willard posted his comments on the purposes
of HUMANIST, I wrote a response, which apparently got lost. Since
the debate continues, I'll repeat it -- not because it is especially
profound but because I want to put in my vote on behalf of a forum
for non-technical discussion. The following is a "screendump" of
what I sent to HUMANIST on September 8:

Bob Sinkewicz: "PLEASE could we . . . stick to topics with at least
some relevance to Humanities Computing."

Daniel Boyarin: "For me, the idea of a computerized network of
humanists is even more important than a network on computers in the

What this says to me is that another list is needed -- something
I've been thinking for quite a while. Although I agree with Daniel
Boyarin, I believe that HUMANIST should continue to fulfill its
stated mission. Is there anyone out there willing and able to start
a separate list for general topics of interest to humanists? My
guess is that most of us would subscribe to both lists. How easy it
is for me to sit here and make such a suggestion, knowing that I
have neither the technical knowledge nor the mechanical means of
doing so myself. :-)
Natalie Maynor
English Department
Mississippi State University
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(End of note previously sent.) On another subject, did I
misinterpret James O'Donnell's comments about "meeting girls"? I
thought he was lamenting the fact that HUMANIST seems to be
dominated by males (which is not, of course, the fault of HUMANIST
itself -- it's the fault of us "girls" for not being more vocal).
In a discussion of gender and e-mail on the "Communication and
Gender" hotline of COMSERVE, I mentioned HUMANIST not long ago as
the one exception to my observation of roughly a 50-50 gender split
in the use of e-mail. BTW, I would find the use of the word "girls"
offensive if I had not thought that James O'Donnell's choice of the
word was a joke. I think he said something about putting it
"crudely." Maybe I have misinterpreted completely. If so, the
flames should continue.

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------67----
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 89 11:04:34 BST
From: Donald Spaeth 041 339 8855 x6336 <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: Essential purpose of HUMANIST


The current debate on HUMANIST's purpose reveals one interesting
characteristic of email debates which I have noticed before--they
tend to involve contributions put in black-and-white terms, even
more so than is usual in academia. In this case, the debate started
(as I recall) when Willard reminded us of what he saw as HUMANIST's
purpose. Brian Whitaker opined that he quite liked discussions
on displaced hearts but found technical discussions boring and
superficial (I paraphrase shamelessly!). I took this opportunity
to put the opposing point of view, defending the right of technical
discussions to continue and supporting their value, while
commenting that I find discussions of such matters as displaced hearts
to be out of place. So one intolerant statement produced another (mine).
If we were in the same room we would not only be dressed but at one
another's throats. Or wouldn't, because physical presence brings
into play social means of restraint which are lacking with email.

I do not believe that technical discussions are the ONLY legitimate
subject for HUMANIST. Heaven forfend! One lesson from the discussion
so far (one which we already knew) is that different people get
different things out of HUMANIST, and this is as it should be.

I will now destroy the effect of these words of temperence by trying
(vainly, I know) to have the last word! In my opinion, there is
only one very weak limit to the discussion area of HUMANIST;
matters should have something to do with the promotion of the
use of computers for teaching or research in the humanities.
(I.e., something more than the fact HUMANISTs must use a computer
to read the b-board!)

I do have a pet peeve, namely "fishing expeditions". These occur
when someone uses HUMANIST to ask a question which in earlier
days they would have answered by spending half an hour doing a
little research in the library. There is a delicate balance
here. Sometimes queries would take months/years to answer, because
the information is not directly accessible. But other times,
resort to a reference work or standard work in the field would
have produced the answer quickly.

These trawls can be fun. I am happy to read them or skip them as
the spirit moves me. But I do not believe that they have a RIGHT
to publication. In this case, I am prepared to accept Willard's
judgment about whether they should be included or not, dependent
upon his own workload; I am happy to hear that HUMANIST does not
add greatly to this.

Donald Spaeth ("Don")
CTI Centre for History
University of Glasgow
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------43----
Date: 27 Sep 89 21:51:40 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: slow-motion replay

From: jodonnel at pennsas

Two nights ago, 10 p.m., fully clothed. `Let's see, what I want to find is a
concise way of pointing out that HUMANIST's participationship and, in my
limited experience, e-mail generally, is a world in which women are
numerically underrepresented to a substantial degree. This is not a good
thing, because it does no good to liberate (or try to liberate) formerly
repressed/downtrodden/discriminated-against segments of the population to the
point where they achieve equality of opportunity and participation in the OLD
technologies, if the middle-aged white guys (such as myself) have in the
meantime taken control of a new technology which will leave them with
unchallenged control of the REAL instruments of power in a society.'

So I tried drafting something like that. Sounded preachy and verbose: e-mail
should be pithy and lucid, suggestive rather than didactic.

`Let's try', I thought, `for something a little humorous, perhaps even ironic.
Now I know people who join exercise clubs to meet people of the opposite sex
(I don't), and do volunteer work to meet people of the opposite sex (and I
don't), and in general know lots of people who do lots of otherwise honorable
and interesting things at least in part to get to meet people of the opposite
sex. Pretty clear that this doesn't work if the opposite sex is
underrepresente `So let's try this: ``... not an activity ... to get to meet
girls.'' Not bad, but people are pretty sensitive nowadays, so I'd better make
sure I include something to make it CLEAR that I am speaking ironically, that
I don't share the attitude I am satirizing. I'll put in a parenthesis,
something like (`to put it as crudely as possible'): that way nobody will
mistake my intent.'


End of slow-motion replay. My apologies to those who got my point the first
time around for going into it again at this tedious length, and my thanks to
those who e-mailed privately to say they got it the first time. Sheesh!