3.1273 questionnaire for classicists (119)
Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 6 Apr 90 22:48:09 EDT
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1273. Friday, 6 Apr 1990.
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 90 20:50:56 EDT
Subject: Burning Questions!
First, I would like to thank you for responding and offering to share
your experiences with me. The number and variety of responses I have
received from HUMANISTs has been quite heartening. This is not a
yes/no questionnaire. Instead, I will present a set of questions and
issues of interest below and will leave it to you to decide on how
they are best addressed or answered.
Ideally, I would have liked to observe your pre-computer work habits
and your post-computer work habits first hand, and interview you in
person. Instead, a more pragmatic choice is to approximate this
situation as closely as possible by asking you to share with me your
experiences via e-mail.
If you would prefer to talk in person, please mail me your phone
number. If you'd prefer to send me ``paper-mail,'' my address is:
Karen Ruhleder, Department of Information and Computer Sciences,
Program for the Social Analysis of Computing, University of California,
Irvine, CA 92717.
I would like to stress that all responses, electronic or otherwise,
are completely confidential. A general summary of my conclusions will
be made available via HUMANIST, but will be presented in such a way as
to obscure the identities of individuals or institutions.
WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING?
I am writing a dissertation in which I evaluate how a new class of
technologies changes the way that people do their work. I have
selected classical scholarship as my case study. In order to map
changes and to understand the context within which they occur, I focus
on the activities that comprise the research process, the interactions
between researchers and other members of the academic community, and
the organizational arrangements within which they work.
My study is qualitative in nature and relies primarily on data
gathered via unstructured interviews with tool builders and users,
documents of tool-building projects, etc. ``Tools'' can include
anything from sophisticated data bank search systems to traditional
concordances and 3x5 card indexes.
For most people, the integration of new technologies is a gradual and
sometimes very haphazard process. I am interested in understanding
how you are integrating computers into your work. As the focus is on
change, I am equally interested in how you did your work before you
had access this new system or that new data base.
BURNING QUESTIONS AND ISSUES:
The issues of interest fall into three general categories:
* How are various computer tools changing the way you do your work?
* How are new technologies altering your interactions with others?
* What kind of organizational infrastructures exist for the use of
computer-based and/or non-computer-based tools?
Please ignore what doesn't pertain to you and include anything else
that you think might be relevant. Please include as many concrete and
detailed examples as you can. I am not looking only at ``high-tech''
uses of advanced computer applications, so please don't think that
anything you do is too mundane to mention!
Some information about you: Sketch briefly your academic background,
your research interests, and your technical background. Perhaps you
have a vitae handy that you could send me. What are your current
Work processes and structures: You might want to address this set of
issues in terms of a current or recent project. What questions are
you asking, what data sources do you use (documentary papyri,
concordances, computer data banks)? If I were to observe you as you
work, what kinds of research activities would I see you carrying out?
Interactions with others: Consider all the people you might come into
contact with while doing your work, including colleagues, librarians,
administrators, and computer technicians. With whom do you share
ideas or drafts, or collaborate on projects? Where and how do you
disseminate your work. How do new technologies such as electronic
mail (fax machines, photocopiers) affect these interactions?
Organization and infrastructure: Consider all the institutional
arrangements already in place to support research, from libraries to
computer labs to funding agencies, which make it easy (or hard) to
make use of certain texts or tools, travel to meetings, etc. What are
the physical arrangements for using different materials or tools?
What do you do when things go wrong (books aren't available, computers
break down)? Who shows newcomers the available resources and teaches
them to use unfamiliar technologies?
General impressions: What do you see as the major changes in your
discipline due to increased computerization? Are these good or bad?
Have computers ``revolutionized'' the discipline?
Further contacts: Are there other people, within or without the
discipline, with whom I should get in touch in order to get a more
Any other comments or suggestions?
Again, I appreciate any information you can offer, and thank you for
the time you have taken in your response. I will send you a copy of a
paper summarizing my conclusions in the (near) future.