Tuesday, October 10, 2017

David De Roure Disrupting the Disruptive

Greetings from the Australian National University, where
David De Roure, Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford is presenting, The imagination of Ada Lovelace: an Experimental Humanities approach. In the introduction he was described as "disrupting the disruptive" of humanities. He recommended the play "Ada and the Engine". 

Professor De Roure described a thought experiment where Ada did not die young, and programmed Babbage's analytical engine to play music. Emily Howard has composed "Ada Sketches" was inspired by this.

Professor De Roure then outlined how to program the analytical engine, which is similar to an early microprocessor. The CPU is called a "mill", a term which was still in use when I learned computing. He then ran a program to play music inspired by "Ada". This sounded to my untrained ear like the soundtrack of a Peanuts cartoon, played on a harpsichord.

Professor De Roure described this as "Experimental humanities" the algorithmic equivalent of "close reading" in humanities research.

It occurred to me that this musical interpretation of computer technology might be extended to William Stanley Jevons (logic piano) and the Lamarr / Antheilpiano inspired, spread spectrum torpedo guidance system

Professor De Roure is visiting ANU for the next month. He is giving the keynote address at Musicology in the Digital Age in Sydney on 14 October and is the first plenary speaker at eResearch Australasia on Creativity in Digital Scholarship, in Brisbane on 18 October.

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