Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 378.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2000 09:43:00 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <email@example.com>
Subject: what's interesting about Web pages?
This is the situation. Two people are given the task of assessing a
student's Web page, one of them a tutor in the subject area that the page
addresses, the other a tutor in humanities computing. My question is, what
criteria does the latter person employ? What from a humanities computing
perspective makes the page academically interesting -- or not?
There are ancillary questions too. How time-dependent are these criteria?
If, as I have observed, they are time-dependent, then let us project into
the future a few years and ask the same question with which I began. In
five years' time, say, will a Web page be -- from a humanities computing
perspective -- at all interesting? If so, where will the interest lie? Of
course there's the question of whether anyone will be writing Web pages
then, and what metalanguage they will be using, but for purposes of
discussion let's say that the Web is still current, and let us further
stipulate that HTML is the metalanguage and that it stays more or less the
If we humanities computing people are creatures of the technological
frontier, then where is that frontier now? Unless I am badly mistaken (it
happens :-), one patch of the current frontier is in the deployment of live
data within an argument or other discursive prose. (Envision, if you will,
reading someone's argument in which he or she, rather than give a footnote
or a quotation, supplies a link to an online database. Envision further not
just the thrill of getting to look at his or her stuff but also the
problems that may arise in relating what the author says, if in the welter
of interesting data you can remember, to the data you see.) What's the
rhetoric of the situation? How do we train our students to conduct an
argument using live data? (Yes, I know, there's the problem of having to
train our students to conduct an argument FULL STOP. Where do we turn for
wisdom on that subject?)
It seems one little question has turned into several. Discussion on all of
them would be quite helpful, among other things to clarify our contribution
to the training of students. Many of mine these days want to grow up to
write Web pages, which among other things means identifying the
intellectually stimulating aspects of the technology.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 848 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 848 5081
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