11.0266 hiatus, with explanation & rewards

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 21:42:35 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 266.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 21:39:59 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: hiatus, with explanation & rewards

Dear Colleagues:

My apologies for the hiatus in transmission of Humanist. I have just
returned from the Digital Resources in the Humanities conference at St.
Anne's College Oxford, <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~drh97/>, during which time I
could have had access to e-mail but was too engaged to make the small trek
to a terminal. So much for explanation and apology.

DRH 97 was, I am happy to report, a huge success. It was very well organised
and run, thanks to Lou Burnard (the local organiser), the team from Oxford
University Computing Services and the Conference committee. The quality of
papers was high overall. Although it was intended primarily as a European
event, many participants came from North America.

The opening plenary address was given by Fr. Roberto Busa, who 51 years ago
initiated what we now call humanities computing with a computer-assisted
study of the works of St Thomas Aquinas. (Busa tells the story himself, as I
recall, in an article entitled "The Annals of Humanities Computing",
published in Computers and the Humanities a few years ago.) At the very
beginning he understood the central principles of our field, principles that
some of us are just now coming to articulate. As Harold Short said in his
introductory remarks, whatever you discover about humanities computing, you
can be sure that Father Busa was there at least 30 years before.

Two remarks from Busa's talk stick in my head. The first was that the human
being and the computer form a single entity, the second that "we know how to
speak, but we do not know how we speak". In other words, hazarding a
paraphrase, in communion with ourselves through the machine we have invented
we discover how we think. Could there be any activity as exciting as this?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk

Humanist Discussion Group
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