Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via amazon.com. I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, amazon.com associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Philosophy: Aesthetics

Title
Author
Purchase / Enjoy Cover
Comment
Beautiful Evidence Tufte This gorgeously printed book is about beauty as a way of helping find the truth. For example: stop using PowerPoint! Unfortunately, while the advice is very useful and even needed (particularly in places which deal with data, like where I work ...) the details are sometimes missing, as well as the exploration of alternatives. (Word is almost as bad as PowerPoint when it comes to some mathematics.)
Computers as Theatre Laurel Interesting ideas, insufficient elaboration. See also my papers page for more discussion.
Creativity and Art: Three Roads to Surprise Boden 12 short papers, mostly adapted from earlier work, make this a small volume. Some of the material seems redundant and there's much that is handed off to Boden's work on the history of cognitive science. However, the topic (creativity in art) is extremely important and yet poorly understood. Nevertheless, Boden is not a mystery-monger, as some are tempted to do when confronted with this challenging topic. She provides useful typologies and reminders of unfortunate or paradoxical consequences of adopting certain viewpoints. Much of the focus is on various influence on art from computing and other related fields, which is a useful approach since many topics like authenticity, emotion, etc. are thrown into sharp relief in these areas. These typologies, analyses, etc. are all necessary but far from sufficient (synthesis needed!) - but that is not a criticism as the topic is so very difficult. Boden also recognizes that science and mathematics are creative activities as well, but does not address them herein. This is a shame, since discussions of creativity often miss this. I do not know if having increased data on human creative domains muddies the waters (Boden seems to think so) or would ultimately prove clarificatory, but it is still a shame. All in all, a decent, provocative book.
Hamlet on the Holodeck Murray

My verdict of this one is much the same as the one for Computers as Theatre.

Modes of Creativity: Philosophical Perspectives Singer This book has two principle strands; one is a criticism of many existing accounts of creativity. This strand succeeds admirably. The second is a positive account of creativity in art, science, technology and mathematics. Nothing of the kind is really presented in any detail despite forward looking references promising something like it. Singer (Irving, not Peter) even admits he doesn't know enough about technology to say. He works at MIT, which makes this even stranger. Despite the partial failure of one component, I do recommend the book's patient and clear critical discussion of others who have written on this important and admittedly extremely difficult subject.

 

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