SIGCIS 2014 Workshop

Computing the Big Picture:
Situating Information Technology in Broader Historical Narratives

SIGCIS Workshop 2014
November 9, 2014, Dearborn, Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Jennifer S. Light, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2013 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Joseph A. November, Biomedical Computing: Digitizing Life in the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)

Prize Citation

In the mid-twentieth century, digital computers began to transform biomedicine. In Biomedical Computing, Joseph November presents an original and compelling account of the processes by which diverse communities in biology and medicine came to embrace digital methods and machines. Furthermore, while historians have demonstrated the influence of physical sciences on early computing, November also demonstrates the forgotten ways in which the demands of biomedical communities shaped computing. In addition to bringing an often neglected scientific community into clear view for historians of computing, Biomedical Computing establishes an important dialogue with the history of science. While historians of technology and business have found ample reason to study computing, Biomedical Computing makes the computer--and thus the history of computing--relevant for science and medicine audiences in general. We expect it to enjoy a broad readership, and to inspire new kinds of computer history.

Comments on the 2013 SHOT Draft Report

Response to the Draft Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Structure and Organization of SHOT

from the Executive Committee of
SHOT’s Special Interest Group on Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS)

Learning about Infrastructure, and Infrastructures for Learning: Insights on Pedagogy from the SIGCIS

Infrastructure on IIT's campus

As I mentioned recently on the listserve, this year there will be a panel on the main SHOT program discussing how SIG concerns are integrated into teaching. As part of SHOT's new website launch, comments from this panel (and several other roundtables) are being made available in advance. I'll be representing the SIGCIS at this teaching panel, and below I've posted a draft of my comments.

Please come to the panel if you are at the conference--the full title of the panel is "Integrating SHOT SIG Concerns into the Teaching of History of Technology: Rethinking Modes of Instruction in a Diverse Communities" and it takes place on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is part of the President's Roundtable program.


Learning about Infrastructure, and Infrastructures for Learning: Insights on Pedagogy from the SIGCIS

Our SIG is sometimes viewed as the “computer history SIG” and while that forms an important part of what we do, I would like to start by emphasizing that it is only one part of what we do. Members of our SIG work on topics ranging from telegraphy to labor history, and from voice recognition to video games. Collectively, we are interested in much more than a narrowly-defined computing history: our mandate is to study how computers, information, and society interact, shaping the human experience in the process. As a result, one of the main teaching goals of the SIGCIS is to help students learn how to contend with technologies of infrastructure that creep into all aspects of our lives, from the broadest to the most personal level.

Pictures from 2012 Workshop

A selection of charming and beautiful pictures from the 2012 SIGCIS Workshop in Copenhagen are now available in a Facebook album hosted on our Facebook page. Access it directly here with no facebook login required. Don't forget to Like us on Facebook while you are there.

The Betrayal of the Internet Imaginaire

In a recent blog post, The Betrayel of the Internet Imaginaire, SIGCIS Chair Elect Andy Russell offers a fresh perspective on Snowden, the NSA, and Internet politics. Drawing insight from historical and social studies of technology, he especially focuses on whether the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) might serve as a mechanism for enabling a more open Internet - a highly germane topic given recent revelations about the extent to which our technologies and networks are riddled with backdoors and actively surveilled.

SIGCIS 2013 Workshop

Old Ideas: Recomputing the History of Information Technology

SIGCIS Workshop 2013
October 13, 2013, Portland, Maine

Pictures from this event are now available on Facebook (no account required).

Inventor Ted Hoff's Keynote @ World IP Day- April 26, 2013 in San Jose, CA

The World IP Day program was to promote and celebrate the many benefits of intellectual property in San Jose and the SF Bay Area. San Jose and Silicon Valley lead the nation in patent generation and the City cohosted this West Coast event to celebrate the contributions of innovators and creators worldwide. Marcian E. "Ted" Hoff's keynote speech is summarized in this article.

CHM lecture: IBM Fellow Grady Booch on Computing: The Human Experience

Introduction:

In this interesting and informative lecture at the Computer History Museum (CHM) on March 11, 2013, Grady Booch asked and tried to answer this question: ”What does it take to make “sentient” devices (that can feel, sense, think and reason) out of silicon and software?”

But before we can address that question, there are many others that need to be thought about. For example, what does it mean to be intelligent? Is intelligence only in the mind or can it also be computable? Some such as Marvin Minsky believe the mind to be computable; others such as Roger Penrose do not (more about him later in this article). Components of life appear to be common to many species, but sentient life is uncommon.

The Book-Writing Machine: What was the first novel ever written on a word processor?

This week in The Slate Book Review, writer Matthew Kirschenbaum tells the story of what was probably the first novel ever written using a word processor - IBM’s MTST (Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter). This brief but insightful article, titled The Book-Writing Machine, gives us a glimpse of the author, the machine, and the novel at the center of this pleasent little slice of late-1960s era computing history. 

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