Mind Technologies: Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community


317 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55238-172-2
DDC 001.3'0285




Edited by Raymond Siemens and David Moorman
Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeff Moon is head of the Maps, Data, and Government Information Centre
at Queen’s University.


Mind Technologies is a collection of essays arising from a 2002 meeting
between the presidents of three Canadian funding agencies and humanities
researchers. Essays in this volume illustrate the number and
breathtaking variety of computing technologies being applied in Canadian
humanities research in recent years. Topics covered include text
analysis, multimedia education, effective markup, access to and
preservation of research data, and digital humanities libraries.

In the chapter titled “Between Markup and Delivery,” the authors
quote Mike Ridley (CIO of the University of Guelph), who makes reference
to an “electronic piсata” when he says that “one has potential
access to a great quantity of goodies, but in attempts to get at them,
one is blindfolded and has recourse only to blunt tools.” In this
instance, the essay’s authors try to square the need to effectively
“tag” the intellectual content contained in a body of literature
with the need to ensure that the resulting web resource is “usable”
by literary scholars. This tension between the technical and
intellectual underpinnings of a system and ultimate delivery and
usability is a common theme throughout this volume.

One author describes the “humanist’s workbench,” identifying
tools needed to meet the specialized needs of humanist researchers. For
humanists, “content is king” and browsing is a “key technique for
finding information.” This chapter goes on to describe a digital
humanities library where the power of computing is combined with the
“accidental tourist” approach of many humanist researchers.

Another author highlights the need for “access to and preservation of
research data in Canada.” On the access side of this argument, we see
the tension described above: get the technical/intellectual
underpinnings right and usability will be enhanced.

Participants in the 2002 meetings set out to “assess the state of the
humanities in Canada, identify major trends and challenges, and offer
recommendations on ways to strengthen research, teaching, and
scholarship.” If Mind Technologies is any measure, they succeeded in
achieving that goal. These essays provide a sweeping view of the rapidly
growing field of humanities computing in Canada, and the future looks


“Mind Technologies: Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16683.