13.0451 needs, wants, desires

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 29 2000 - 06:49:31 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 451.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:44:01 +0000
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Needs, wants, desires


    I am ever intrigued by how the question of tools circles round to a
    question of communities. At least this how I read Michael's recent call
    for prototyping as a developmental practice and your own posting on the
    nature of inovation and small groups.

    If my own limited experience is of some worth, it appears to me that
    there are two ancilliary roles at work in any communal labour:

    1) One is the function of "going meta" -- the invitation to make explicit
    what is implicit. Timing in these matters is everything. Your question,
    like the perenial return of spring, captures my attention at a time which
    by a certain cosmic serendipityness I have been preparing a prestantion on
    the pedagogical uses of TACTWeb and thus led to the work of Barbara
    Wildemuth on defining search success and from there to Carmel, Crawford
    and Chen's 1992 cognitive study of browsing in hypertext and finally to
    the GOMS model outlined by Card, Moran and Newell in their 1983 book _The
    Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. By a second bit of serendiptous
    grace, I searched the Humanist archive for postings on GOMS (found, in
    keeping with the initial theme of appropriate technology, a delightful
    citation of a Guadaloupean proverb by George Lang to the effect that God's
    pencil has no eraser. [the joys of partial matches!]). The point of
    pursuing these chains here is to underline that the GOMS model is
    explained by way of the example of copy editing and would it not be
    fitting for the GOMS model to help clarify both the what it is computing
    humanists do and what it is they might wish to do. Card, Moran and Newell
    base their model on the example of the copy editing behaviour. With this
    example they illustrate the working out of Goals, Operators, Methods and
    Selection Rules as a way of describing a task. As mechanistic as this
    sounds it has value. What I particularly like about the model is the
    understanding it displays of regarding the mobility of goals. I invite
    anyone interested to run a quick WWW search. There are several
    introductory sites re: GOMS.

    2) The second function is that of publicist, impressaria, publisher,
    reporter, secretary, recorder. I invite readers to recall to what degree
    they experience scholarly gatherings that publish papers (or even
    abstracts) before a gathering, accomodate remote participation during
    proceedings, or provide a digest of the learned exchanges. This not just a
    plug for the network environment as a communication milieu with many
    portals. It is also a reminder that these ancilliary activities are based
    upon skills -- skills that we acquire and skills that we teach in our
    interaction with computer technology.

    Francois Lachance
    Post-doctoral Fellow
    projet HYPERLISTES project

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