19.338 wordprocessing, foul papers, genetic study?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 07:19:56 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 338.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 07:05:50 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: wordprocessing, foul papers, genetic study?

A colleague offline to Humanist has forwarded me a question about the
impact of wordprocessing on authorial studies, i.e.

"whether email [is] cutting down collections of writers' letters.
(The old effect-of-the-telephone-question). Well, not if they're
saved, but I'm thinking of broader issues. Word-processing revision
before saving can be lost; if saved, however much subsequently
superseded, (.wbk) files can be retrieved until they fall off the end
of the hard disk ie a technician can recover them. Are any writers
backing up subsequently succeeded saved versions? Are they being
encouraged to? (Many universities keep daily backups for you.) Are
any research libraries asking for writers' hard disks?.... I knew a
psychologist at the University of Kent who had a software programme
to recreate the history of every keystroke. He was interested in how
people learned, especially using electronic learning materials.
Genetics with a vengeance. Of course, there's always what goes on in
your head before you type a keystroke. I thought that the AI man in
David Lodge's Thinks... rather let us down there."

Comments and pointers to research are eagerly awaited.

Many thanks.


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax:
-2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Thu Oct 13 2005 - 02:31:00 EDT

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