13.0427 what we need & how (not) to get it

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 07:06:44 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 427.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "Malcolm Hayward, English, IUP, Indiana PA 15705" (20)
             Subject: Re: 13.0423 what we need: a provocation

       [2] From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com> (29)
             Subject: Re: 13.0423 what we need: a provocation

             Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 06:55:28 +0000
             From: "Malcolm Hayward, English, IUP, Indiana PA 15705"
             Subject: Re: 13.0423 what we need: a provocation

    I absolutely think a tool-box and set of manuals for the
    use of those tools should be high up on our list of priorities
    for our discipline. To comment on the "limitations of
    the tools we need to outgrow," and to extend a metaphor,
    you don't ever really outgrow a hammer and saw even when
    you buy a power nailer and a circular saw: you just find
    ways to accomplish the tasks you want to do more efficiently
    and quickly. For example, last fall I used SPSS for windows
    for the first time. Now I am sure others have been using that
    for years, but for me it was like a revelation: the program was
    brilliant and I did in 20 minutes what it used to take days
    to do with writing those little programs on SPSS-X. No way
    are we going to outgrow the need for statistical analyses.
    Which makes me think: maybe the issue is not so much that we
    need a new set of different tools, but that we need sets of
    plans, suggestions, patterns and the like for better, more
    imaginative use of the tools that are at hand. After all,
    that hammer and saw can be used to build tables, chairs,
    dressers, bookshelves, or, as I am going to build right now,
    register covers for floor vents. Malcolm Hayward

             Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 06:56:03 +0000
             From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
             Subject: Re: 13.0423 what we need: a provocation

    "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty )" wrote:

    > Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 08:15:18 +0000
    > From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
    > >
    > Dear Colleagues:
    > Of course if you think the criticism essentially or
    > entirely correct, please say so. If you think it does not go far enough,
    > then please extend it -- and if you wish anonymity for your stronger
    > statement, I am certainly happy to arrange for that. We need ad laborem,
    > not ad hominem strokes!
    > Here is the lash:
    > . Apart from lack of time and money,
    > >these attempts have been flawed by seriously underestimating even the
    > >sociologically ordinary difficulties in extracting ideas reliably from
    > >actual practice.

    I'm sorry, but I have no idea what on earth this sentence means or intends to
    mean. What are "sociologically ordinary difficulties" ? The words don't even
    seem made to go in the same phrase. And what is the 'actual (or even
    'virtual') practice from which ideas are somehow extracted ? (and how does
    one extract an idea ??) If I knew what it meant, I might respond to it.

    > More specifically, they have not been framed to separate
    > >the operations of scholarly research from habits formed by existing
    > >software and so have boxed in the imaginations of those questioned by the
    > >limitations of the tools we need to outgrow.

    Where else does one get things except from things that already exist ? I know
    the "outside the box/envelope" cliche's but they mean little or nothing. Does
    the author really expect something new under the sun ?

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