6.0001 Humanist's Birthday (1/53)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Sun, 10 May 1992 23:34:20 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0001. Sunday, 10 May 1992.

Date: Sun, 10 May 92 23:00:50 EDT
From: Elaine M Brennan <ELAINE@BROWNVM>
Subject: Humanist's Birthday

Humanist had a very quiet birthday earlier this week. It's become
somewhat of a tradition for us to note each year's passing, and I
have spent much of the last week wondering exactly what it was I
wanted to say about Humanist (the list) and Humanists (readers and
writers both) this year. (Allen gets to make his own statement, if
he likes.)

Electronic lists have come a long way since 7 May 1987, and the number
of different lists seems to have expanded close to exponentially every
time I pause to review them. And I wonder, sometimes, exactly what
Humanist's role ought to be becoming now, as the roster of more
specialized discussion groups grows longer and longer, and as cross-
posting notices becomes something more than epidemic on those various

Humanist has never been "just another list," but it seems to have lost
some of the spirit and vitality that it once had. We're all busy, we
all have more electronic mail and information to process, and how
we're dealing with issues surrounding humanities computing has changed.

And at the same time, I'm still hungry to know what it is others
who "do" humanities computing are doing, I'm curious as to what
sorts of things those who ask for e-texts of various genres want to
be able to do with them, what conclusions those who attend various
conferences dealing with electronic tools and humanities issues
are coming to, what Humanist readers want to be doing with the
gigabytes of information that pass through their terminals.
I'm curious about how people are (or are they?) trying to work
out the kinks in collaborative work that computers and networks
can make possible, and what new tools people wish they had. Those
are all topics I'd like to see discussed more on Humanist.

As an editor of Humanist, I'll admit that I wish I had the time to
compile a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) list that gave definitive
answers on fonts, for example, so that when the questions get asked
every month or so, we wouldn't have the same discussion over and
over again.

This, then, is my request to those of you who have read this far:
that you focus on the questions of what humanities computing is
and isn't, that you share the information and the queries various
conferences raise about using computers in humanities disciplines,
that where you have the time and the will, you talk about the
hows and whys and wherefores, for example, of electronic texts,
rather than simply searching for their existence.

I feel honored to have met as many Humanist readers as I have,
and I treasure many memories of conversations both live and
electronic; I wish that it were possible to bring some of the
vitality and intensity of those conversations with you back to
the net as well.