American Philological Association Board
Endorses Statement of Computer Support

Following is the final revised draft of the APA Statement of Computer Support, which was put together over the past year by the Committee on Computer Activities and recently endorsed by the APA Board.

William Johnson, chair of the APA Committee on Computer Activities says of of the statement,

[It] differs deliberately from the rather more prescriptive statement of similar name put out by MLA. Uppermost in our minds were the following two concerns:

(1) We want to put into the hands of the membership a document in which the Association states emphatically the need for Classicists to have good access to the equipment, personnel, technologically-enhanced classrooms, and so forth that are necessary for taking full advantage of electronic resources. Such a statement could be useful, for instance, in helping to persuade a dean who is skeptical that a Classics Department has serious need for sophisticated electronic equipment.

(2) We want to provide a statement by the Association which might help in cases where promotion is in part dependent on technological contributions to the profession. Without presuming to prescribe what constitutes a contribution worthy of promotion, we wish nonetheless to assert the principle that contributions in electronic media merit attention on par with contributions made in print.

American Philological Association
Statement of Computer Support

Classical studies has now a tradition of active involvement with computers. Due to the early availability of significant quantities of machine-readable Greek and Latin texts as well as early and ambitious efforts to coordinate these and other data for the purposes of research and pedagogy, Classics has rightly been regarded as a leader in the use of computers for humanistic inquiry. The purpose of this document is to outline support considerations which may help Classics maintain this position of leadership.

1. Computer literacy.  Many of the basic resources of Classical scholarship and pedagogy are becoming or have become electronic. Among these resources are text and image data banks, basic tools such as bibliographies, and the unstable but profound resources that come with connectivity to computer networks, from the chat of mailing lists to formal pedagogical interchange to complex and growing webs of "published" materials. Able use of such resources is therefore increasingly essential to our profession. With full awareness of the demands of time and the constraints of local finances, the Association nonetheless affirms as an ideal the following:

2. Development and use of electronic resources.  Useful electronic tools will be developed principally by scholars and teachers and not by computer support personnel. But faculty will often require technical assistance in the construction of such tools and may also require significant training in software and hardware systems if they are to realize the advantages offered by electronic technology. In addition, there must be a suitable forum for the use of these tools if faculty efforts are to bear fruit. Though, again, local constraints may make immediate or full implementation impossible, the following support considerations merit particular attention:

3. Support for non-traditional scholarship and pedagogy in technological areas.  Faculty members who develop computer-based educational applications and scholarly products should receive due recognition for such curricular, pedagogical, and scholarly contributions. Included here is the support and promotion of scholars who create enabling technologies  -- that is, technologies which permit other scholars to pose new questions in their research, or teach their classes in new ways. Examples are the generation of complex databases, or the development of software specific to research or pedagogy in the Classics. The creation of such enabling technologies requires singular expertise both in high technology and in Classical scholarship, involves intellectual and imaginative effort of a high order, and directly benefits the profession. In recognition of these facts, and with the express purpose of fostering more creative activity combining these skills, the Association urges that departments and institutions give due recognition in the tenure and promotion process to contributions to the Classics that make significant use of electronic technologies. Electronic contributions should be evaluated as other comparable materials, through external review by experts, and without prejudice to the non-traditional forms in which such contributions are commonly disseminated. Institutions are encouraged to contact the APA Committee on Computer Activities for guidance in cases where local resources are inadequate for the evaluation of non-traditional contributions.

For more information, contact William A. Johnson at wjohnson@jagat.com

KAIROS Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments.
Vol. 1 No. 2 Summer 1996