File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 36

Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 08:22:10 +0100
From: "Humanist Discussion Group \(by way of Willard McCarty              <>\)" <willard-AT-LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU>
Subject: 22.036 getting carried away?
To: <humanist-AT-Princeton.EDU>

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 36.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to:

         Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 18:25:11 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <>
         Subject: getting carried away?

Sometime between 1964 and 1965, in a conference at Purdue University
sponsored by IBM, Professor William B. Kehl, then Director of the
Computing Centre at Pittsburgh, said the following in a panel discussion:

 >Ultimately, I hope that somewhere along the way there will be one
 >man who will become so interested and so involved with the computer
 >and his own work that he will begin to develop some sort of
 >structures which may be defined only in terms of a computer; a
 >research project, in other words, in which the computer is implicit
 >in the structure that he is trying to analyze. Let me explain: Simon
 >and Newell (both of whom came from the field of psychology), in
 >their chess-playing program and their learning programs on the
 >computer, saw that the existing language was not sufficient for
 >them. They had more complex things to think about. In chess playing
 >they had to look ahead many moves, while in learning theory they had
 >to think of the fact of how things were structured. The same thing
 >was done with grammar, and so the linguists became so involved that
 >they designed a language which actually was almost a new computer in
 >itself. It totally restructured the idea of a computer. Now the same
 >thing is going to happen at some point in the humanities, at least
 >this in the area of written communication. I'm not talking about
 >linguists and the problems of parsing sentences, which are pretty
 >well simplified and solved, or about generative grammars; I'm
 >talking about a real structure to deal with problems in literature.
 >I don't say this is the path for everybody in the humanities, but
 >hopefully there is going to be one man out of a conference who will
 >become so involved with the computer that his whole concept, his
 >whole approach to research, is going to be involved intimately with
 >defining such a structure of which previously he could not have
 >conceived. (Edmund A Bowles, ed., Computers in Humanistic Research:
 >Readings and Perspectives, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 252)

Any nominations? (Self-nominations accepted!)


Willard McCarty | Professor of Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p. 26). 


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