Interfacing Knowledge: New Paradigms for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

March 8-10 2002, University of California Santa Barbara


Welcome to Interfacing Knowledge


William Warner

English, UC/Santa Barbara

(all rights reserved)


If an interface can be defined as a “surface forming a common boundary between adjacent bodies”, and “a point at which diverse groups interact”, then this conference is itself a kind of interface for the exchange of knowledge. I want to begin that exchange by introducing you to groups that are sponsoring this conference, and say a word about how we have designed this interface. My co-organizer of this conference, Mark Meadow, has told you a bit about the Microcosms project. I serve as the director of The Digital Cultures Project. We are a group of 21 UC faculty whose research is centrally concerned with the history and theory of new digital technologies, and the ways in which they are changing humanistic studies and the arts. You can find out about the activities we sponsor by looking around our web page. Most of the panel chairs and UC presenters at this conference belong to the Digital Cultures Project. Mark Meadow and I have been assisted in giving this conference by the creative energy of the Digital Cultures research assistant, Jeremy Douglass. If you have any questions or special needs, please don’t hesitate to ask the three of us for help.


Two ideas animate the social design of this conference interface: first, we hope to promote friendliness and informality, in several ways: by keeping introductions very short, by offering breakfast rolls and coffee before the conference each morning, and providing a full lunch for the whole conference at mid-day. Secondly, by limiting our panel presentations to 15 minutes, and by keeping other panel presentations to 20 minutes, we hope to have plenty of talk, so that, through our conversation, we can all think through ideas together.

So without any more preliminaries, I would like to turn the proceedings over to the chair of the first panel, J. Hillis Miller. He is a member of the Digital Cultures Project, and comes to us from UC Irvine.