Date of this Version
Newsletter of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 2, Number 3, September 1980. ISSN 0196-7134
Any mention of computers among humanists is likely to arouse strong passions, but they are no longer simply the older, more absolute passions of disdain on the one hand for any diabolical plot to train a machine to do human-or, in cases of concordancing and indexing, vaguely inhuman-work, or on the other a wholehearted acceptance of electric salvation from drudgery. They are now more complex emotions: interest in dramatic possibilities but uncertainty about ways to proceed, or happy installation of computer components and processes but an expensive fear that someone, somewhere, is doing the same work better and faster and cheaper. In this context of transition, the publication of not one but two books about computers and their uses specifically directed at humanists is an opportune event. It is hardly necessary to say that neither book is fully up-to-date; any purchaser of a pocket calculator has learned how quickly one incredible chip displaces another. Neither Hockey nor Oakman devotes any significant space, for example, to a description of stand-alone mini-computers, those self-contained tabletop units with much of the flexibility and even the storage capacity of the room-filling mammoths of ten and fifteen years ago, or to the variety of word processing programs, first developed for general secretarial and journalistic use, now available in conjunction with these more portable, more affordable units.