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Sunday

Overestimating technology


The disappearance of manifest meaning is, in fact, the price to pay for enhanced electronic facilities.

One can easily pick any combination of terms and search constraints - but there is no guarantee whatsoever that this will lead to an interesting result. So where does 'importance' come in?

This is a category of reflective assessment, crucially different from automated procedures. The discrepancy is at the center of any discussion about computer-assisted philology. A certain amount of cheating is necessary to reach the comfortable conclusion presented in the previous paragraph. Criteria enabling one to judge upon the importance of algorithmic procedures have to be presupposed in order for such procedures to be of any help.

To put it very simply: elaborate tools are of little help without knowledge of their proper use. One has to have a hunch about the possible significance of a term to profitably employ the electronic search function. The non-sequitur above may serve as a reminder to first-generation digital scholars. It is easy to fall into the trap of overestimating technology. None of the powerful programming at work below the WYSIWYG-surface guarantees philosophical content.

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