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Re: How to Teach Perl to Scholars in the Humanities

by Hanamaki (Chaplain)
on Jan 31, 2004 at 19:36 UTC ( #325570=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to How to Teach Perl to Scholars in the Humanities

You allready got some good advice above, but let me give some more hints, how to talk about perl in a humanistic environment.

Since it is the department of Celtic and Scottish studies, I assume that the people in this department have a linguistic and literature background.
The linguists are pretty easy to handle. Just speak there language and you can tell in a few minutes a lot of Perls power. Linguists know the Chomsky hierarchy as programmers know. So if you talk about RegEx, talk about regular grammars . Some of them may even know about the current finite-state boom in language parsing (dangerous ground if you talk to guys of the old school) and may get interessted if you tell them that regular expressions are a language to write finite state machines, which are for e.g. very often used in computational morphology. Another example are hashes. Try to explain hashes from the viewpoint of the cognitive science Schema Theory and so forth.

So after this theoretic part you could talk about the ease implementing corpus tools. The Web as corpora is another quit booming topic. To use the web you need tools like spiders to get the data, and n-gramm or whatever scripts to compute them. It won't harm to use the word scripts, instead of programms, because its a word they should allready know since this term is a joint development of computer science and cognitive psychology coined in the late 70s, and well known in athropology and linguistics. Probably script does not sound as scary as programm.

Many people in the humanties are stilled scared about computers, but also know, that there is a shift to computer assisted research. In our days researchers don't spend there whole life counting the "the", "that" and "this" in the literature from 1600 to 1800. So, while they may fear computers, many will feel the need to get aquainted to them. So just tell them, programming is hard, but Perl gives you enough sugar to swallow this bitter pill in a human way.

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