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DigiCULT
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Info
17
U
NCOVERING
K
NOWLEDGE
A
CQUISITION
BEHIND
D
IGITAL
C
ONTEXTUALISATION
S
ÉVERINE
L
ETALLEUR
, U
NIVERSITÉ
P
ARIS
IV-
S
ORBONNE
I
CTs have become the ideal tool for
displaying documents in their con-
text. They provide the finest technologi-
cal solution available today if one aims to
represent human knowledge without arti-
ficially restricting it to one specific field.
Furthermore, interactivity prompts an ever-
increasing awareness of what steers curiosity
and our desire to learn, sketching out a rep-
resentation of what we know through how
we know it.
16
T
he main object of this electronic essay
is to show in what respect hyperme-
dia encourage multi-disciplinary approach-
es, and also to provide evidence suggesting
that this presentational format is just as
essential to knowledge acquisition as more
traditional ones (i.e. those that deliver data
in one specific field along one linear path).
T
he present study is the outcome of an
experiment led during two main doc-
torate sessions by Dr Denis Lagae, a lec-
turer at Paris IV-Sorbonne (http://www.
paris4.sorbonne.fr/fr/), and myself in the
Spring of 2004. During the experiment,
participants consisting of both students and
scholars specialising in English Studies were
asked to stress the differences they felt exist-
ed when studying a literary excerpt taken
from The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
17
­ the eighteenth-century epistolary novel
by Tobias Smollett ­ first in its paper for-
mat and, second, in its hypermedia version
on a computer screen with hyperlinks and
browsing tools; this version is available on
a CD-ROM entitled Georgian Cities.
18
The
literary excerpt itself is a letter in which
the narrator, Matthew Bramble, a snobbish
Welshman, recounts his first impressions on
entering Edinburgh. All participants were
filmed while exploring the CD-ROM.
B
efore starting the analysis proper, it
might be of importance to add one
thing. The fact that the very format of this
electronic article also happens to be an
integral part of the topic under discussion
ought to be brought to attention; indeed,
the adequate display of computer screens
and the possibility of accessing a video
extract of one of the interviews by just
clicking on this link ­ http://www.cati.
paris4.sorbonne.fr/evenements/enhancing.
php ­ is a perfect opportunity to further
our demonstration while making things less
abstract.
FROM CONTRIVED PROGRESSION TO
ERRATIC DIGRESSION
W
hen first examining the video
recordings, one may come across
a somewhat striking feature: the brows-
ing procedures that scholars and students
choose to adopt differ significantly.
I
ndeed, while some scholars first tend to
demonstrate little curiosity for things
that are remote from their own field of
All screen copies are extracted from the CD-ROM designed by Liliane Gallet-Blanchard &
Marie-Madeleine Martinet. Georgian Cities. C.A.T.I. Paris : Presses de l`Université Paris-
Sorbonne, 2000.
16 Willard McCarty, "We Would Know How We Know What
We Know" in Responding to the Computational Transformation of the
Humanities. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/essays/
know/know.html (31.10.2002).
17 Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (Oxford:
OUP, 1998. 217-219).
18 Liliane Gallet-Blanchard & Marie-Madeleine Martinet,
Georgian
Cities (C.A.T.I. Paris: Presses de l`Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2000).
CD-ROM.