Conceptual sculpture as popular resource (1 of 2)

December 15, 2011

Having, pre-retirement, been an academic in what is now called "digital humanities", I much appreciated Matthew Reisz's sapient article on the current state of play ("Surfdom", 8 December). Beyond the issues of digital storage and retrieval, I feel the long-term advantage to myself and, I hope, to humanities researchers in the future is the way the area can affect thinking and vision both cognitively and aesthetically.

I found the logical approach and formalisms offered by computing science a valuable addition to my first formation (and teaching) area built around Reformation poetry. The developmental input from turning first to computing science then to computational linguistics has latterly enabled me to stretch from my original area in Reformation studies to the development of a new sub-movement of theology (critical postliberalism), published in appropriate circles, which draws on a combination of the logic and flexibility I found inherent in aspects of computing and the poetry of faith.

In terms of artsome creativity, Reisz may also be encouraged to hear how more than 20 years ago, at an interview that led to a lectureship in humanities computing at my last university, I referred to "the conceptual sculpture of operating systems" - and yes (scientists perhaps naturally tend to ask), I still got the job.

Noel Heather, Egham, Surrey

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