Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 533. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org  From: Dr. Herbert Wender
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge (52)  From: Elisa Beshero-Bondar Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge (150)  From: email@example.com Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge (48)  From: Jeffrey Savoye Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge (51)  From: Willard McCarty Subject: historical disciplines (36) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-03-10 23:48:28+00:00 From: Dr. Herbert Wender Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge Dear Digital HUMANISTs while hoping not to disturb neither the well-feelings nor the bothered-feelings in yoour community which I observe with some reservations, I cannot resist to ignore Meisters resp. van Zunderts plea for forward-thinking (BTW: someone here who has considered to use fuzzy set formalisms to model fuzzy textcritical situations ?), at least for today. My interest here is to see what's in the field of digital editin the state of the art practically (how we get what we want, in my case: reliable transmission of historical text forms of literary works) and which - rivaoizing, complementary - theoretical positions determine the conceptualizations in actual DSE. Maybe there will be some X for which holds what Alexander Hamilton has stated in quite other conrns (advocating 1790 for a national bank of the US ;-) in variant formulations: "Theorists and men of busicness unite in the acknowlegment of it." [https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-07-02-0229-0003} Draft versions: "Speculatists and men of busicness .." "The speculative theorist & the practical man of business &c." [https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-07-02-0229-0003] In my personally feeling I find it most puzzling to distinguish between questions of effectiveness, or of usability, or of utility ..., or just of taste or what I would call the beuaty resp. elegance of a computational solution, and theoretical concerns with respect to the adequacy of the transmission compared with the observale phenomena in a given tetual tradition. (Not to speak here about the political concerns, questions of power and social distinctions, which I would like to separate from my actual concern.) Maybe you wonder about the Hamilton citation? Following the path of Francois Lachance's mention of Sileni boxes (meaning behind meaning behind ... expression behind expression of expression ...) I found in the depths of my mailbox - marked as 'unread' - a posting by Lou Burnard in the TEI-L list commenting a "monkey wrench" (= dirty trick?) in the context of a SUBST discussion about a Hamilton ms. situation very similar to the Frankenstein example mentioned by myself last week. If you estimate my questions asked there as annoying please say it aloud and I will leave this discussion. If not, pleae clarify what was going on in the ROTIMDA encoding for founders.org. With kindly regards, Herbert [span class="subst"]Theorists[ins title="insertion in manuscript"][del title="deleted in manuscript"]Speculatists[/del][/ins][/span] and men of business [ins title="insertion in manuscript"]unite in [del title="deleted in manuscript"]an unqualified[/del] the[/ins] are agreed in the acknowlegment of [ins title="insertion in manuscript"]it.[/ins] [del title="deleted in manuscript"]their value.[/del][a class="ptr" id="ARHN-01-07-02-0229-0002-fn-0126-ptr" href="#ARHN-01-07-02-0229-0002-fn-0126" title="jump to note 126"]126[/a][/p] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-03-10 18:17:52+00:00 From: Elisa Beshero-Bondar Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge Dear Joris, Perhaps this post was written in fatigue and ennui, but I was sorry to see that it feeds one of the persistent problems of dogmatic points of view, and that is the perpetuation of a falsely simplistic binary opposition. Here the problem is our notions that hierarchy and dimension are on opposits poles, with one singular and limited and the other multiple and free. One reason a debate continues is that the debaters have reduced their positions to the illusion that each is in entirely the opposite camp. I agree with you that dogma is reductive and tiresome, and will add that it is needlessly polarizing and does damage to the extent that, as you say, it stilts the way we form communities and whom we think we can respect. Let's consider the position that hierarchy and structure are inherently limiting and singular, and by implication are not to be found in multi-dimensional models. Dashed off in a such a way, we confuse data models with culture and text and fail to perceive anything more than a polarized position--and it's so compelling that we turn people away from bothering to find out what they could do with XML to express hierachy and connect to other hierarchies in multi-dimensional ways. Having no use for hierarchy seems a little self-limiting in real life, and I'd assert that eventually hierarchy must and will assert itself in non-XML models (yes, as soon as you need to nest something in JSON). Describing semantic relationships requires expressing dependencies regardless of the format we apply. A dogmatically polarized view, however, will abruptly dismiss XML and pretend it doesn't matter in HTML or in anything we decide to describe as "simple" and also "multidimensional". I suppose that's how we talk to each other when dogma asserts itself, but in real life, modeling texts and data is more complicated than convenient polarities permit us to express in debate. In practice, we learn how to express our ideas and perspectives in different formats. We become multi-lingual. We write code that maps across data models. We write XML and map to JSON. We write multiple formats of XML to mediate across hierarchies. And we respect the intellectual work of modeling and structure. Topographies and nestings are part of modeling, and we work, really, in intermediary ways--that can be the fun of it. Or so I've found. You can read more about our intermediating work (via the Frankenstein Variorum project), and our views of interchange and interoperation in our Balisage paper that Raff cited earlier, and I hope you will hear us speak about these things at Utrecht. Maybe we can be moving beyond tiresomely dogmatic debates into the real world where we work together on mediating in between data models. Joris, I do believe we're on the same page by the end of your post. I agree with you, whole-heartedly, in asking this question: "And why are we so bad at skilling scholars to choose a technology, data structure, or algorithm based on reasoning its applicability for purpose instead of community based or individual dogma?" I shake hands with you there, but I must dissent with your dismissal of "technical hype" and the rough treatment of hierarchy and structure. I have heard such rapid-fire dismissals from several quarters--not just from this post, but in conversations at DH conferences about what's supposedly wrong about markup. If we do want to honor the history of DH and we want to sustain an informed and respectful connection with each other's work, perhaps less debunking and more bridge-building would be helpful. When do we recognize that hierarchies can be plural and address multiple dimensions? And haven't we been aware of this all along? Best, Elisa Beshero-Bondar, Elisa E., and Raffaele Viglianti. âStand-off Bridges in the Frankenstein Variorum Project: Interchange and Interoperability within TEI Markup Ecosystems.â Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2018, Washington, DC, July 31 - August 3, 2018. In *Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2018*. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 21 (2018). https://doi.org/10.4242/BalisageVol21.Beshero-Bondar01. -- Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD Associate Professor of English University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Humanities Division 150 Finoli Drive Greensburg, PA 15601 USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org On Sat, Mar 9, 2019 at 2:17 AM Humanist wrote: > Date: 2019-03-08 09:52:55+00:00 > From: Joris van Zundert > Subject: The illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge > > Dear Willard, > > Something has been bothering me ever since Michael Sperberg-McQueen > first questioned the value and validity of hares. > (https://dhhumanist.org/volume/32/173/ ) > > You were quick to identify part of what was bugging me: > > "Once upon a time I thought that I could blame the Web's great deluge > for obliterating nearly everyone's memory of what was going on for the > ca 35 years prior to its impact, to say nothing of the two decades > between von Neumann's architectural sketch and Joe Raben's founding of > Computers and the Humanities in 1966. But the Web's not the real > problem, as the current debate indicates. The real problem is the > thoughtless and thought-depriving hype of continual progress -- even > when we think we're 'progressing' toward something we'd rather not think > about." (https://dhhumanist.org/volume/32/436/ ) > > I wholeheartedly agree with Domenico Fiormonte: > > "I've been following this and the previous McGann et al thread and I > feel like this was a gigantic *dÃ©jÃ vu*... People I've been knowing for > a long time, and for whom I've the greatest respect and affection, were > rehearsing the same ideas and arguments I've been listening to for... > may be thirty years?" (https://dhhumanist.org/volume/32/510/ ) > > And it is good to see that Jan Christoph Meister points to Dino's 2002 > brilliant but much neglected article: > > "And there's more to this approach than merely being able to handle > nested / overlapping / discontinuous structures (which imho is really a > problem of the past, as is the Renear-McGann debate which, as far as I'm > concerned, Buzzetti 2002 "Digital Representation and the Text Model", > NewLiterary History, Vol. 33, No. 1 had already pretty much superseded). > (https://dhhumanist.org/volume/32/520/ ) > > For all that matters Dino Buzzetti's argument might have ended the > debate already in 2003 so we would have moved on to more interesting > challenges. But it didn't. Domenico points out some detrimental > mechanisms that may have caused the persistence of hierarchical > perspectives on text. You blame the hype of continual progress. I think > you are too easily discarding the influence of technical hype (XML was, > oh boy). It is all of these things of course. The deeply inherent social > fabrication of who's anyone in our community, the technological fads, > and the institutional hypes. > > I am not sure whether either the hierarchical perspective or the > multidimensional understanding of text signifies any progress at all. I > have no use for hierarchies or XML, but so far the multidimensional > approach has not produced much of anything either. I'll advocate the > latter because it at least made me think about text instead of > structure. But in general we seem not to be able to transcend a debate > that looks suspiciously like a boring format war to me. > > However, all that really looks like an aside to me. The major worry > remains and no one seems really to have addressed it. Why are we (as a > community? as individuals?) so excruciatingly terrible at transferring > the knowledge of the field's past? And why are we so bad at skilling > scholars to choose a technology, data structure, or algorithm based on > reasoning its applicability for purpose instead of community based or > individual dogma? Wasn't ours supposed to be a historically informed and > critical field of investigation? > > All best > --Joris -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-03-09 20:30:09+00:00 From: email@example.com Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge Joris, I'm not sure that dismissing the entire argument as "deja vu" or "format wars" is really very constructive. A closer reading of what has been proposed in the now previous threads, beyond the subject lines, might reveal SOME progress to an attentive reader. In talking of all things standoff there are actually two very different ideas often confused. One is "standoff markup", which is the removal of the tags forming a rigid hierarchical structure to a separate file for later recombination with the residual text. This is indeed an old idea first propounded by computational linguists in around 1993. The format was the subject of a court-case between Microsoft and i4i, who patented the idea in 1994, and won compensation of 294 million dollars. So we are talking about something that has commercial value. It's not a storm in a teacup, as you seem to imply. The other idea is standoff properties, which capture the properties of text via a set of overlapping external attributes with no formal hierarchies in evidence. Conversion of the properties into standard hierarchical forms of markup such as HTML can be achieved by splitting them when they overlap. This idea is even older and goes back to Ted Nelson (1970), to Thaller's 'extended string' model, Dino Buzzetti's 'weakly embedded markup', the eLaborate editor, LMNL and CATMA. In fact annotation systems also follow this model. What was interesting in the argument that just happened is that standoff properties appear to be gaining ground and practical systems beyond those already mentioned like Iian Neil's SPEEDy editor and - dare I plug it - my own implementation in the Harpur edition are becoming more common. So I don't think that we haven't progressed at all. The whole reason why I picked up on Francois Lachance's original posting was to test exactly how far attitudes have changed on these old issues. And they have. I sense a distinct weakening in the status quo who have put all their eggs in the basket of hierarchical markup and now are beginning to suspect that it may not long retain the privilege of being something that CAN be deja vu-ed. Desmond Schmidt eResearch Queensland University of Technology -- Dr Desmond Schmidt Mobile: 0481915868 Work: +61-7-31384036 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-03-09 14:31:51+00:00 From: Jeffrey Savoye Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.532: the illusion of 'progress' and transfer of knowledge I am not precisely sure what we mean by "making progress" or "not making progress," or of the context in which such an evaluation is intended to take place. From my own experience, electronic presentation does solve some problems (mostly in terms of space, access and searching) and brings others with it (technical issues, and questions of formatting and presentation, many of which are actually old ones). I don't know if TEI can reasonably be considered "progress" (mostly because I have yet to see an application that justifies the amount of effort it requires, and the limitations it imposes), but certainly some of what is being done online can be considered progress. (I am also willing to grant that TEI may have manifest virtues that are simply as yet unknown to me. If I incorporate TEI versions at some point, the XML will be yet another addition to my website, building on work I have had to do anyway.) On my own website, I give every historical text of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry, prose fiction, essays and most of the critical/editorial material (much of which is complicated by the fact that it is not signed). I give complex bibliographies for each work (which I am still refining) to separate authorized printings from reprints, and to show the relationship between authorized printings. I also give comparative and study texts that emphasize the changes made between versions of text, with special attention to trying to follow Poe's own sequence and method of revision. (My approach may necessarily be peculiar to Poe.) No print edition is likely to be capable of such a presentation, and I think that is progress in some sense, even if it is well beyond the interests of most casual readers. Beyond the text of his works, my website gives many books and articles about Poe and his writings. (I have been very fortunate that many of these works predate the copyright boundary of 1925, or have since fallen out of copyright for various reasons. I have also been able to secure permission for several newer works still under copyright, such as the Mabbott edition, The Poe Log and G. R. Thompson's groundbreaking work on Poe's Fiction, with its emphasis on romantic irony.) Although I am still in the process of providing these texts and making these links, I can often supplement the reference in a footnote or internal citation by linking directly to the original material. Where that material references still earlier material, I provide that link as well. In so doing, I have consciously intended to try to not only make material available for students, but to more tangibly demonstrate the complex web of thought and revision that is the essence of scholarship. Trying to gather together and jump between these references in any form other than electronic would be utterly impractical. How one might choose to follow a thread of thought or break from one path to follow another, is certainly interesting, if not actually progress. Jeffrey A. Savoye The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore https://www.eapoe.org -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 2019-03-09 07:53:25+00:00 From: Willard McCarty Subject: historical disciplines Thanks to Joris can Zundert for asking why we as a putative community and as individuals are "so excruciatingly terrible at transferring the knowledge of the field's past?" A simple answer is that we are riveted to the compulsive fascination with the next new thing, and so profess that 'DH' -- let us use the acronym for its badge-like qualities -- is it. Many of our colleagues are eager or at least willing to go along with this doctrine, I'd suppose, because they've lost the faith in the face of a society that no longer privileges the scholarly life. Riveted as we seem to be on the near-term future of the next release and the politics of now, history quickly slips away from us and with it much else. Inter alia, non-digital ways of doing things vanish under the conviction that digital tools and methods replace rather than, in some cases justifiably, supplement; the technology comes to define most everything. But all that is a small part of the bigger problem. There is very good reason to think of the humanities as 'the historical disciplines', for without an historical sense and historical knowledge there's really nothing left to study. If DH is ever to become a discipline *of* the humanities rather than so often merely a presence within them, we need not only to get to know our own past and closely related pasts -- which go back much further than the machine we celebrate -- but also to sit at the feet of the historical disciplines and learn from them. Comments? Yours, WM -- Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney University; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org) _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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