19.479 relational database (and TEI)

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 06:58:06 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 479.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: DrWender_at_aol.com (40)
         Subject: Re: 19.470 relational database and TEI

   [2] From: Lynda Williams <lynda_at_okalrel.org> (18)
         Subject: Relational Databases Obsolete

   [3] From: DrWender_at_aol.com (69)
         Subject: "a given research problem" (16.372)

         Date: Sun, 04 Dec 2005 06:29:28 +0000
         From: DrWender_at_aol.com
         Subject: Re: 19.470 relational database and TEI

>A brief polemic, a pot-stirring.
>It seems to me that the situation Orietta Da Rold has described is
>not entirely dissimilar to the Homeric story of Scylla and Charybdis
>-- the Scylla of database design vs the Charybdis of TEI -- or the
>other way around, as you please. What I'd think the *researcher*
>should be doing is getting as clear as possible the nature of the
>tool that would best answer to the problem at hand -- in this case as
>well as mine, it seems, a tool that does not yet exist. [...]
>As long as the researcher's task is put for purposes of research in
>terms of commitment to this or that existing technology, the story
>goes not even as happily as Homer's. [...] *in
>terms of research* the humanities computing problem here
>would seem to be clarifying the emergent technology, not selecting an
>emerged one. [...]

Sorry, Willard, but I don't understand your
"brief polemic". Reading the initial Posting
19.433 to see what is the "case at hand" I think
it was the question of an 'end-user' which tool
fits best her/his situation for applying computer
technology, but this seems not to be a research
problem. If you think in the given case the
end-user has only the choice between two evils,
and you as researcher in hum.comp. can imagine an
alternative tool doing better the job - what sort
of improvement do you expect? Can you please
define clearly what you see as the
<emph>research</emph> problem at hand? what would
be the evil in using relational database
management? what evil in using TEI? (Botth Skylla
and Charybdis would be the end of Odysseus' travel, right?)

Catalogues of manuscripts were printed long
before computer technology was invented,
consequently this sort of Information Storing &
Retrieving surely is not the problem at hand. But what else?

Sincerly yours,

         Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2005 06:41:01 +0000
         From: Lynda Williams <lynda_at_okalrel.org>
         Subject: Relational Databases Obsolete

>We *are* using XML database tools (eXist and Berkeley) for smaller, specific
>applications, most notably for highly dynamic and repurposable individual
>documents. But intensive processing of small numbers of documents
>as databases as a content management system would not really qualify
>as a "database" application in the way that XML critics would frame it.

Last week a grad student at UNBC asked me how to implement a database
for her website. I wound up recommending google search. After
teaching AND and OR and fields and records for over 20 years (and
acquiring an M.Sc. Computation along the way, as well as a library
masters with a specialization in expert system search engines) I am
beginning to wonder if relational databases might be dinosaurs. At
least for 90% of typical searching goals. They may continue to be
useful in well-defined business settings.

Lynda Williams, http://www.okalrel.org
"The Courtesan Prince" (SciFi)
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy
         Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2005 06:44:40 +0000
         From: DrWender_at_aol.com
         Subject: "a given research problem" (16.372)
Dear colleagues,
looking on your debates from the outside position of someone who is
no longer practitioning in the field of humanities computing, I
wonder about some longlife obsessions in some threads in which
usually are involved they who one could call the 'usual suspects'. I
will give an example from exactly 3 years ago:
Dec 7 2002, initial question of Willard:
"A technical question: what might be reliable criteria for
determining when a given research problem involving textual data is
approached with relational database technology, when with text
encoding?" (16.372)
Just in the few weeks to the end of the year, statements of almost
all of the suspects can sampled in the Humanist archibes - with some
interesting shift in subject terms:
... ((omitted: 16.375))
Dec 11, 16.377 encoded text vs database
[1] From: Patrick Durusau
[2] From: Fotis Jannidis
[3] From: Julia Flanders
... ((omitted: [4], [5]))
Dec 11, 16.380 thinking with the technologies
From: Willard McCarty
Dec 13, 16.384 thinking with the technologies
[1] From: Norman Hinton
[2] From: C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
Dec 26, 16.387 thinking with tools
[1] From: Patrick Durusau
[2] From: Willard McCarty
Dec 26,
16.390 thinking with the technologies / XML vs. RDM
From: Manfred Thaller
Dec 30, 16.393 thinking with tools
[1] From: Wendell Piez
[2] From: Francois Lachance
Subject: Re: 16.387 thinking with tools
Coming back to the initial question of Willard in 16.372, I suppose
that we can say. When a researcher in history of science or in
sociology of science (or psychology of lscience, or discourse
studies, or ...?) aims to know what's going on in an emergent
discipline / field of practices / domain (take what you want) as f.e.
HC, and s/he takes as base data for this research the verbal stuff
stored in the Humanist archives, s/he has fairly a "research problem
involving textual data", right?
I seems (looking at directory "humanist/data" on site
"lists.village.virginia.edu") to habe had in the years 1998 - 2002 an
approach to use relational database concepts for organizing the
memory of the list somehow more 'professional' as with the
old-fashioned text file directories year by year? (Probably John
Unsworth was experimenting with an rudimentary RDB; see f.e. flat
file 'humanist.rdb'). Was it too frustrating this work envisaging
Humanist-RDB? Was planned to convert the effort to an XML based
technology / tool (again: take what you want, you know what I mean)?
Could anyone imagine what funds would be necessary for elaborating a
topic map to master this messy stuff? Or would you agree that it is
fully sufficient to have the material reachable via internet with the
crude text search supported by Google? (For profinling the master
protagonists in the list I always found it sufficient.)
Backtracking such topics as 'database vs. markup' I'm wondering that
experts in the field accept a list, where the thematic
self-organization known from other lists at this village (Virginia)
is blocked by the governing moderator who overrides the subject lines
of the contributors by his own, always beginning with the current
number. Take a look at the messages 'sorted by thread', and you'll
see what I mean: only the day-wise moderator-bundled messages form
somewhat like a mini-thread, but the greater lines of discussion are
not constitutive for thread-organizing the discourse like in other lists...
I think it's enough for today, and anyhow I doubt that anyone will
hear the grumbler ;-)
Received on Tue Dec 06 2005 - 02:15:57 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Tue Dec 06 2005 - 02:15:57 EST