Prof. Willard McCarty - Mimesis to poesis in the Digital Humanities


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Presentation of Prof. Willard McCarty (King's College, London) for THATCamp Switzerland, Lausanne, 11-12 November 2011

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Prof. Willard McCarty - Mimesis to poesis in the Digital Humanities

  1. 1. Mimesis to poiesis inthe digital humanities ! Willard McCarty! Department of Digital Humanities ! King’s College London!!
  2. 2. ca 1950-1995!in academic !departments!by computingcentres, libraries &other non-academic units!from work!done in! & commercial development !"
  3. 3. The result:!many goodthings, but on thewhole littleadvance onmimeticmechanisation ofthe codex –hence by analogywith themechanisation ofmusic, !the knowledgejukebox.! #"
  4. 4. !"#$%&()*"*%+&",-.*/.01%234,54#"%6789$%:%;.**.-<%34,54#"%$*%5<"%6"87*5.=%>"?@1A B.C.57,%&487*.5."-%DEEF1%G4,41%;.*,7*HA $"
  5. 5. Andrew Webster, “Computers: The NewAge of Miracles”, Toronto Globe andMail, 16 November 1965! Little conceptual advance in ca 40 years! Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila, “The Semantic Web”, Scientific American, May 2001 ! %"
  6. 6. ca 1995-2005!Formation of a discipline centred on methods: the digital humanities askeepers of a “methodological commons”. But how is this of thehumanities?! &"
  7. 7. Difficult questions & tentative answers!•  What are we trying to do?" ! –  Simply to be useful to the older disciplines? Become the perfect servant, and so be without a life of our own?" ! –  Found a new discipline on the basis of a methodology which provides cogent explanations of phenomena that cannot be obtained by any other means? Thus Latour’s moral quandry (in “The Politics of Explanation”):" ! •  “If the work of explaining something is that of empire-building, should we explain something?.... Do we want to add yet another discipline and profession to the many that we study?.... Do we lust for power and recognition?....”!•  This lust is wrong because it distracts. Explanation and its concrete instantiation in methods are not a desirable goals because they divert us from that which we study. They become things in themselves, distancing us from that which give them meaning. Computational methodology is a house built on sand." !•  Again Latour: replace methodology by style (by playing a role rather than following a rule).! "
  8. 8. =7%DEEI:A JAApart from theories and imperatives, what actually do we find going on inthis space of the digital humanities?! ("
  9. 9. Publishing!Simulating! Modelling! Computing in the humanities! )"
  10. 10. Actions, Publishing! not things!Simulating! Modelling! Computing in the humanities! *+"
  11. 11. Publishing!Simulating! Modelling! of! for! Computing in the humanities! **"
  12. 12. Basics: modelling! modelling of! residue! Cantwell Smith 1985.!modelling for! *!"
  13. 13. Simulating! Modelling! is! of!Mimetic!Creative! might be! for! Computing in the humanities! *#"
  14. 14. Basics: simulatingA simulated city! New, unpredictable ?! behaviours! real city! *$"
  15. 15. •  Jerry Fodor: “no computation without representation” (Language of Thought, 1975)." !•  I suggest: “No computing (in the humanities) without experimenting and comparing”.! *%"
  16. 16. !"#$%&(K%;#78.*C%5<"%-5,"-A *&"
  17. 17. Publishing!Simulating! Modelling! Computing in the humanities! *"
  18. 18. Like a thief in the night!•  Joseph Weizenbaum: “…the direct societal effects of any pervasive new technology are as nothing compared to its much more subtle and ultimately more important side effects” (“On the Impact of the Computer on Society”, 1972)." !•  What, for us now, are these?" ! –  Wide & interdisciplinary rather than deep & specialist;! –  Argumentative rather than evidential;! –  Probabilistic rather than determined;! –  Conjecturally scientific – when it suits the research;! –  and…! *("
  19. 19. Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times, 1936!Trade Union !Congress, !1936! L>"%87%=$897#"%7%87*%.*%5<"%9#$="--%$M%=$8945.*C%7%#"7,% *48?"#%5$%7%87=<.*"%N<.=<%.-%$*,%=797?,"%$M%7%O*.5"%*48?"#%$M% =$*H.5.$*-KKKKP%QK%RK%S4#.*C1%TUVW%+7M5"#%X"$#C"%6K%Y$$,$-%7*H% Z.=<7#H%3K%["#"1%)*+,$-./"0"-1.234*#"56%DEE]^%DT1%;.CK%VKT0A " *)"
  20. 20. 6<",,%G.,%7H("#51%7.-$%3.189&2"2#:*;-1%TW%B"="8?"#%TUIE1%-<$N.*C%_YR%>$#,H%&"7H`47#5"#-1%I]5<%65#""5%7*H%R7H.-$*%Q("*4"1%N<.=<%5<"*%H.-9,7"H%5<"%6","=5.("%6"`4"*="%!,"=5#$*.=% ;#$*5%=$("#1%<"+&=.#.>"2&1%D%Q9#.,%TUWIK"37,=4,75$#%+66!31%*.=/*78"H%La$997P%?%97--"#-b?0%.*%5<"%M#$*5%N.*H$NKA !+""
  21. 21. McCulloch-Pittsmodel of thebrain, based onthe TuringMachine,1943-48!Commercialcommunicationsinterfacebetween Judy Trogadis & Johnneuronal cells K. Stevens, promotionland silicon- microphotograph of abased electronic human brain celldevices, the growing on a MotorolaGolden Brain 68000 chip, 1984.!project,November 2004. !