Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 205–222 | Cite as

HUMANIST: Lessons from a Global Electronic Seminar

  • Willard McCarty
Article

Abstract

The electronic seminar HUMANIST illustrates how e-mail may foster discussion of basic problems and exchange of information among humanists world-wide, thus aiding research and strengthening the community. With a certain amount of tailoring and editorial care, it has used existing software to support traditional humanistic dialogue - while also solving the problem of information overload, at least temporarily. Through their complaints of “too much mail” members have, however, usefully pointed to our immature understanding of the new medium. Its apparently mixed nature (part conversational, part textual) demands a new paradigm, towards which this essay makes an attempt. Recommendations for the successful management of other such seminars are also given.

Key Words

Humanism humanists dialogue e-mail electronic mail computer-mediated communications networks Bitnet media studies 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Works Cited

  1. Adrianson, Lillemor, and Erland Helmquist. “User's Experiences of COM - A Computer-Mediated Communication System.” Behaviour and Information Technology 7 (1988): 77–99.Google Scholar
  2. Bush, Vannevar. “Memex Revisited,” In Science is not Enough. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1965. 75–101.Google Scholar
  3. Caillois, Roger. Man, Play, and Games. Trans. Meyer Barash. New York: Schocken, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. Caswell, Stephen A. E-mail. Converging Technology Series. Agincourt, Ont. (Canada): Gage, 1988.Google Scholar
  5. Cherry, Colin. “The Telephone System: Creator of Mobility and Social Change.” In Pool (1977):112–26.Google Scholar
  6. Critical Connections: Communication for the Future. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Washington: Congress of the United States, 1990. Dennett, Daniel C. “Murmurs in the Cathedral.” Rev. of Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind. In Times Literary Supplement 4513 (Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 1989): 1055-6.Google Scholar
  7. Denning, Peter J. “Electronic Junk.” Communications of the ACM 25 (1982):163–5.Google Scholar
  8. Dubrovsky, Vitaly J., Sara Kiesler, and Beheruz N. Sethna. “The Equalization Phenomenon: Status Effects in Computer-Mediated and Face-to-Face Decision Making Groups.” Human Computer Interaction 6 (1991): 119–46.Google Scholar
  9. Feenberg, Andrew. “Network Design: An Operating Manual for Computer Conferencing.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 29.1 (1986): 2–7.Google Scholar
  10. Finholt, Tom, and Lee S. Sproull. “Electronic Groups at Work.” Organization Science 1.1 (1990):41–64.Google Scholar
  11. Finholt, Tom, Lee S. Sproull and Sara Kiesler. “Communication and Performance in Ad Hoc Task Groups.” Intellectual Teamwork: Social and Technological Foundations of Cooperative Work. Ed. Jolene Galegher, Robert E. Kraut, and Carmen Egido. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Earlbaum Associates, 1990.Google Scholar
  12. Freeman, Linton C. “The Impact of Computer Based Communication on the Social Structure of an Emerging Scientific Speciality.” Social Networks 6 (1984): 201–21.Google Scholar
  13. Gumperz, John J. Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982.Google Scholar
  14. Heim, Michael. “Grassi's Experiment: The Renaissance Through Phenomenology.” Research in Phenomenology 18 (1988):233–59.Google Scholar
  15. Heim, Michael. “Humanistic Discussion and the Online Conference.” Philosophy Today 30 (1986):278–88.Google Scholar
  16. Heim, Michael. “Infomania.” The State of the Language. Ed. Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels. Berkeley: U of California P, 1980. 300–6.Google Scholar
  17. Heimstra, Glen. “Teleconferencing, Concern for Face, and Organizational Culture.” Communication Yearbook 6. Ed. Michael Burgoon and Noel E. Doran. Beverley Hills, CA: Sage, 1982. 874–904.Google Scholar
  18. Hiltz, Starr Roxanne. Online Communities: A Case Study of the Office of the Future. Human/Computer Interaction. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corp., 1984.Google Scholar
  19. Hiltz, Starr Roxanne. “The Virtual Classroom: Initial Explorations of Computer-Mediated Communication Systems as an Interactive Learning Space.” (One of several research reports available from The Virtual Classroom, Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ 07102.)Google Scholar
  20. Hiltz, Starr Roxanne and Murray Turoff. “Structuring Computer-Mediated Communication Systems to Avoid Information Overload.” Communications of the ACM 28 (1985): 680–9.Google Scholar
  21. Hiltz, Starr Roxanne, Murray Turoff and Kenneth Johnson. “Experiments in Group Decision Making, 3: Disinhibition, Deindividuation, and Group Process in Pen Name and Real Name Computer Conferences.” Decision Support Systems 5 (1989): 217–32.Google Scholar
  22. Holton, Gerald. Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler to Einstein. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1973.Google Scholar
  23. Housman, A. E. The Name and Nature of Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1935.Google Scholar
  24. Huff, Charles, Lee Sproull, and Sara Kiesler. “Computer Communication and Organizational Commitment: Tracing the Relationship in a City Government.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 19.16 (1989):1371–91.Google Scholar
  25. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in Culture. Boston: Beacon, 1950.Google Scholar
  26. The Information Gap: How Computers and Other New Communication Technologies Affect the Social Distribution of Power. Special issue of the Journal of Communication 39.3 (1989).Google Scholar
  27. Johansen, Robert, Jacques Vallee, and Kathleen Spangler. Electronic Meetings: Technical Alternatives and Social Choices. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979.Google Scholar
  28. Katzen, May. “The Impact of New Technologies on Scholarly Communication.” Multi-Media Communications. Ed. May Katzen. London: Frances Pinter, 1982.Google Scholar
  29. Kay, Alan C. “Computers, Networks and Education.” ScientificAmerican 265.3 (September 1991):138–48.Google Scholar
  30. Kerr, Elaine B. “Electronic Leadership: A Guide to Moderating Online Conferences.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 29.1 (1986):12–18.Google Scholar
  31. Kiesler, Sara, Jane Siegel, and Timothy McGuire. “Social Psychological Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication.” American Psychologist 39 (1984):1123–34.Google Scholar
  32. Kiesler, Sara, and Lee Sproull. Computing and Change on Campus. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987.Google Scholar
  33. Kochen, Manfred. “Long-term Implications of Electronic Information Exchanges for Information Science.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science 4.5 (1978): 22–3.Google Scholar
  34. Lai, Kum-Yew, Thomas W. Malone, and Keh-Chiang Yu. “Object Lens: A ‘Spreadsheet’ for Cooperative Work.” ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems 6.4 (1988):332–53.Google Scholar
  35. Lanham, Richard A. “The Extraordinary Convergence: Democracy, Technology, Theory, and the University Curriculum.” South Atlantic Quarterly 89.1 (1990):27–50.Google Scholar
  36. McGuire, Timothy W., Sara Kiesler, and Jane Siegel. “Group and Computer-Mediated Discussion Effects in Risk Decision Making.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52.5 (1987): 917–30.Google Scholar
  37. Mackay, Wendy E. “Diversity in the Use of Electronic Mail: A Preliminary Inquiry.” ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems 6.4 (1988):380–97.Google Scholar
  38. Malone, Thomas W., Kenneth R. Grant, Franklyn A. Turbak, Stephen A. Brobst, and Michael D. Cohen. “Intelligent Information-sharing Systems.” Communications of the ACM 30.5 (1987):390–402.Google Scholar
  39. Malone, Thomas W., Kenneth R. Grant, Kum-Yew Lai, Ramana Rao, and David Rosenblitt. “The Information Lens: An Intelligent System for Information Sharing and Coordination” In Technological Support for Work Group Collaboration. Ed. Margrethe H. Olson. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence ErIbaurn Associates, 1989.65–88.Google Scholar
  40. Mitchell, Richard G., Jr. Mountain Experience: The Psychology and Sociology of Adventure. Foreword by Gerald Suttles. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.Google Scholar
  41. Mulkay, M. J. “Sociology of the Scientific Research Community.” Science, Technology and Society: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective. Ed. Ina Spiegel-Rösing and Derek de Solla Price. London: Sage, 1977. 93–148.Google Scholar
  42. Murray, Oswyn. “The World is Mightier Than the Pen.” Review Article. Times Literary Supplement 4498 (June 16–22 1989): 655–6.Google Scholar
  43. Nisbett, Richard E., and Timothy DeCamp Wilson. “Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes.“ Psychological Review 84.3 (1977):231–59.Google Scholar
  44. Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982.Google Scholar
  45. Penrose, Roger. The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.Google Scholar
  46. Pfaffenberger, Brian. “Research Networks, Scientific Communication, and the Personal Computer.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 29.1 (1986): 3033.Google Scholar
  47. Pieper, Josef. Leisure: The Basis of Culture. Trans. Alexander Dru. Foreword by T. S. Eliot. New York: Pantheon Books, 1964.Google Scholar
  48. Pool, Ithiel de Sola, ed. The Social Impact of the Telephone. MIT Bicentennial Studies, 1. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  49. Quarterman, John S. The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide. Bedford, MA: Digital, 1990.Google Scholar
  50. Rafaeli, Sheizaf. “Interactivity: From New Media to Communication.” Advancing Communication Science: Merging Mass and Interpersonal Processes. Ed. Robert P. Hawkins, John M. Wiemann, and Suzanne Pingree. Sage Annual Reviews of Communication Research, Vol. 16. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1988.110–34.Google Scholar
  51. Rafaeli, Sheizaf. “The Electronic Bulletin Board: A Computer-driven Mass Medium.” Computers and the Social Sciences 2 (1986):123–36.Google Scholar
  52. Rafaeli, Sheizaf. “Interacting with Media: Para-social Interaction and Real Interaction.” Information and Behavior. Ed. Brent D. Ruben and Leah A. Lievrouw. Mediation, Information, and Communication, 3. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990. 125–81.Google Scholar
  53. Rahner, Hugo, S. J. Man at Play, or Did You Ever Practise Eutrapelia? London: Burns & Oates, 1965.Google Scholar
  54. Rice, Ronald E. “Computer-mediated Communication and Organizational Innovation.” Journal of Communication 37.4 (1987): 65–94.Google Scholar
  55. Rice, Ronald E. “The Impacts of Computer-Mediated Organizational and Interpersonal Communication.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 15 (1980): 221–49.Google Scholar
  56. Rice, Ronald E. and Donald Case. “Electronic Message Systems in the University: A Description of Use and Utility.” Journal of Communication 33 (1983):131–52.Google Scholar
  57. Richardson, John. “The Limitations to Electronic Communication in the Research Community.” Information Technology and the Research Process: Proceedings of a Conference held at Cranfield Institute of Technology, UK, 18–21 July 1989. Ed. Mary Feeney and Karen Merry. British Library Research. London:Bowker-Saur, 1990. Pp. 190–209.Google Scholar
  58. Roberts, Royston M. Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1989.Google Scholar
  59. Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Airpump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1985.Google Scholar
  60. Shapiro, Norman Z., and Robert H. Anderson. Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail. Rept. R-3283NSF/RC. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, July 1985.Google Scholar
  61. Short, John, Ederyn Williams, and Bruce Christie. The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1976.Google Scholar
  62. Spitzer, Michael. “Writing Style in Computer Conferences.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 29.1 (1986):19–22.Google Scholar
  63. Sproull, Lee, and Sara Kiesler. “Reducing Social Context Cues: Electronic Mail in Organizational Communication.” Management Science 32 (1986): 1492–512.Google Scholar
  64. Sproull, Lee, and Sara Kiesler. “A Two-Level Perspective on Electronic Mail in Organizations.” January 1990. Forthcoming, Journal of Organizational Computing.Google Scholar
  65. Sproull, Lee, and Sara Kiesler. “Computers, Networks and Work.” Scientific American 265.3 (September 1991): 116–23.Google Scholar
  66. Steinfield, Charles W. “Computer-Mediated Communication Systems.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 21 (1986):167–202.Google Scholar
  67. Thompson, Gordon B. Memo from Mercury: Information Technology IS Different. Montreal, Quebec: Institute for Research on Public Policy, June 1979.Google Scholar
  68. Tombaugh, Jo W. “Evaluation of an International Scientific Computer-Based Conference.” Journal of Social Issues 40 (1984):129–44.Google Scholar
  69. Vallee, Jacques, and Robert Johansen. A Study of Social Effects. Consultant Robert Randolph and Arthur C. Hastings. Menlo Park, CA: Institute for the Future, 1974. Vol. 2 of Group Communication Through Computers.Google Scholar
  70. Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition as History. Madison, WN: U of Wisconsin P, 1985.Google Scholar
  71. Westin, Alan F. “Social Change Through Electronic Communications.” In Electronic Communication: Technology and Impacts. Ed. Madeline M. Henderson and Marcia J. MacNaughton. AAAS Selected Symposium 52. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, for the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, 1980.Google Scholar
  72. Williams, Frederick, Ronald E. Rice, and Everett M. Rogers. Research Methods and the New Media. Series in Communication Technology and Society. New York: Free, 1988.Google Scholar
  73. Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. Rev. and Enl. Edn. New York: W. W. Norton, 1968.Google Scholar
  74. Wood, Lamont, and Dana Blankenhorn. “State of the BBS Nation.” Byte Jan. 1990, 298–304.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willard McCarty
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Computing in the HumanitiesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations