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Humanist Archives: July 11, 2022, 8:27 a.m. Humanist 36.100 - the question of scale

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 100.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-07-11 07:15:42+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: the question of scale

The work of Charles and Ray Eames (who designed the IBM Pavillion for
the 1964 World's Fair in New York) has led me to wonder how the question
of scale affects our understanding of digital research. In 1977 they
made a film, Powers of Ten, based on Kees Boeke's Cosmic Views: The
Universe in Forty Jumps (1957); later the Eames' collaborators, Philip
and Phylis Morrison, in turn made a book based on the film, Powers of
Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe (1982). All this
is available either on the Internet Archive or via

The calligrapher Edward Johnston wrote that "size is absolute". This is
one of the lessons I take also from Boeke's, the Eames' and the
Morrison's work. My question, then, is how this 'absolute' difference
applies across the range of computational phenomena, from the
quantum-level of the microprocessor, through the 'levels of abstraction'
in a computing system, to the results of computational stylistics, say,
and beyond that to GPT-3 and its kind, AlphaGo Zero and so on.

Some (micro/macroscopic) speculative help here?

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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