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Foreword: Perspectives on the Digital Humanities

Roberto A. Busa

Subject Literature » Literary Theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405103213.2004.00002.x


During World War II, between 1941 and 1946, I began to look for machines for the automation of the linguistic analysis of written texts. I found them, in 1949, at IBM in New York City. Today, as an aged patriarch (born in 1913) I am full of amazement at the developments since then; they are enormously greater and better than I could then imagine. Digitus Dei est hid The finger of God is here! I consider it a great honor to be asked to write the Foreword to this fine book. It continues, underlines, completes, and recalls the previous Survey of Antonio Zampolli (produced in Pisa, 1997), who died before his time on August 22, 2003- In fact, the book gives a panoramic vision of the status artis. It is just like a satellite map of the points to which the wind of the ingenuity of the sons of God moves and develops the contents of computational linguistics, i.e., the computer in the humanities. Humanities computing is precisely the automation of every possible analysis of human expression (therefore, it is exquisitely a “humanistic” activity), in the widest sense of the word, from music to the theater, from design and painting to phonetics, but whose nucleus remains the discourse of written texts. In the course of the past sixty years I have added to the teaching of scholastic philosophy, the processing of more than 22 million words in 23 languages and 9 alphabets, registering and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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