File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 620

From: Humanist Discussion Group <>
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 06:29:47 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: [Humanist]  22.635 looking back

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 635.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to:

  [1]   From:    Siobhan King <>                   (52)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist]  22.633 looking back

  [2]   From:    Willard McCarty <>          (41)
        Subject: being reminded of origins

        Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 14:38:29 +1300
        From: Siobhan King <>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist]  22.633 looking back
        In-Reply-To: <>

"The only real difference here between print and internet production is speed of production."

Funny you should say that, now I think of it, it is odd that I never came across an early modern print version of Google, I couldn't pick out metadata generated by the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury in a tag cloud to save my life and I never did find a copy of "The Fable of the Bees" that allowed me to simply poke the page with my finger and automatically produce before my eyes contemporaneous pamphlets on charity schools but that's probably just my lack of appreciation of history. 

Hypertextuality is a fundamental difference between internet production and text production. I may have glossed over the nuances of print history for the purpose of brevity, but at least I didn't overlook a quintessential characteristic of the internet because I was too focussed making an analogy with the past.

Siobhan King

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Humanist Discussion Group
Sent: Thursday, 19 March 2009 7:45 p.m.

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 633.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to:

        Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:42:31 -0400
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.627 looking back
        In-Reply-To: <>

Siobhan --

Thanks for this response.  I want to make clear, though, that I'm not
saying that what we can learn from a study of pint culture is
directly, and without complication, transferable to "text" culture as
you describe it.  What I am saying is that a detailed awareness of
print culture makes differences from "text" culture -that much more
visible-.  It's only possible to move past something when you've come
to grips with it to begin with.

But your summary of print culture lacks nuance.  There are and almost
always have been "underground" presses, those which weren't associated
with the production of authoritative texts, and since the advent of
moveable type it is possible to change text relatively rapidly
(compared to manuscript).  I just listened to a conference paper a
week ago about how print was used for propaganda purposes in 17thC
Spanish wars.  Broadsides released one day could be substantially
different from those released the next under the same anonymous or
pseudonymous author.  The only real difference here between print and
internet production is speed of production.  Anyone who could gain
access to a printing press could print.  Authorities feared the
production of these presses and sought to suppress them.

Furthermore, your distinction between "print" and "text" was first
developed exclusively within a culture of print -- you are still
thinking in terms of print culture, but because you're not properly
considering history you're not aware of it.

Jim R

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 2:08 AM, Humanist Discussion Group
<> wrote:

> I'm saying traditional modes associated with print will not help us in this type of environment and forcing it won't work either, not when the society holds a completely different ethos. Print culture has had strong elements of centralised control. Yes it may be useful to see how that control became centralised, but it doesn't help us come to grips with decentralised and chaotic text production.
> Siobhan King

        Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 06:26:25 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: being reminded of origins
        In-Reply-To: <>

The following is from the Preface to the English-language edition of 
Jean-Pierre Dupuy, The Mechanization of the Mind: On the Origins of 
Cognitive Science, trans. M. B. DeBevoise (Princeton, 2000), p. x:

> Although the history of science and ideas is not my field, I could
> not imagine adopting Alfred North Whitehead's opinion that every
> science, in order to avoid stagnation, must forget its founders. To
> the contrary, it seems to me that the ignorance displayed by most
> scientists with regard to the history of their discipline, far from
> being a source of dynamism, acts as a brake on their creativity. To
> assign the history of science a role separate from that of research
> itself therefore seems to me mistaken. Science, like philosophy,
> needs to look back over its past from time to time, to inquire into
> its origins and to take a fresh look at models, ideas, and paths of
> investigation that had previously been explored but then for one
> reason or another were abandoned, great though the promise was. Many
> examples could be cited that confirm the usefulness of consulting
> history and, conversely, the wasted opportunities to which a neglect
> of history often leads. Thus we have witnessed in recent years, in
> the form of the theory of deterministic chaos, the rediscovery of
> Poincare's dazzling intuitions and early results concerning nonlinear
> dynamics; the retum to macroscopic physics, and the study of fluid
> dynamics and disordered systems, when previously only the infinitely
> small and the infinitely large had seemed worthy of the attention of
> physicists; the revival of interest in embryology, ethology, and
> ecology, casting off the leaden cloak that molecular biology had
> placed over the study of living things; the renewed appreciation of
> Keynes's profound insights into the role of individual and collective
> expectations in market regulation, buried for almost fifty years by
> the tide of vidgar Keynesianism; and, last but not least, since it is
> one of the main themes of this book, the rediscovery by cognitive
> science of the cybernetic model devised by McCulloch and Pitts, known
> now by the name of "neoconnectionism" or "neural networks," after
> several decades of domination by the cognitivist model.



Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London,;
Editor, Humanist,;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews,

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