E3 Gets Historical

Gamers Playing Atari at Classic Gaming Expo

The annual Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) is where video game companies have congregated since 1995 to show off their forthcoming gadgets and games to the press. It is a bombastic celebration of the latest and greatest, the newest and shiniest. Any attention to the past is, for the most part, uncomfortably out of place there.

Filming the History of Computing

Triumph of the Nerds (DVD)

Next month, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View is screening a new documentary called Something Ventured. To my knowledge, this is the first documentary on the history of computing intended for theaters. Okay, technically it is a history of venture capital, not computing. But the primary focus is on entrepreneurial firms in computing or closely related industries: Intel, Atari, Apple, and Cisco are featured prominently. This has inspired me to consider the state of history of computing documentaries. Most of them that I'm aware of have been made for television.

SIGCIS Photo Galleries

Paul Edwards delivers the workshop keynote at SHOT 2010 - Tacoma

Tom Haigh has begun putting photo galleries from the SIGCIS meetings up on this very site. You may find them here. Thanks to Tom for putting in the work to make this happen. Like any blog post (hint-hint!) these images are open for comment. So if you have a funny story, thoughtful recollection, or just a complaint about Tom's repeated photographs of the back of your head, please post away! Also, if you have any photos from any SIGCIS event that you'd be willing to share, Tom would love to hear from you.

Remembering Mike Mahoney

Mike Mahoney

Tom Haigh's recent announcement of the completion of his edited volume of Mike Mahoney's work seems a good time to put down some brief thoughts about the brief time that I knew him.

Mahoney's Histories of Computing is published

Histories of Computing by Michael Sean Mahoney (Book Cover)

Earlier this week I received a full set of authors copies of Histories of Computing, the edited works of Michael S. Mahoney on the history of computing. These were shipped from the Trilateral warehouse, which handles Harvard distribution, so I assume the book can now be ordered. I’ll be sure to set aside one or two copies for the SIGCIS book auction in Cleveland later this year.

A Light-Hearted Interlude with Clippy

Clippy: Sometimes I popup for no particular reason, like now.

The Atlantic's James Fallows posted recently on the 10-year anniversary of the demise of Microsoft Office's "Clippy" (officially the Office Assistant), the cartoon paperclip helper that would pop up to offer advice and suggestions while a user was creating a document.

Frictions in the Cloud, Part 2

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Details have finally begun to emerge in the past few days regarding exactly what caused the Amazon cloud-computing-service shutdown. Amazon's own account is rather dense and chewy, but Ars Technica has provided a more digestible explanation.

Movie Night at the Museum

Computer History Museum

I know I promised more on the cloud; that will come later. Right now I want to plug another excellent resource for the history of computing, the Computer History Museum (CHM)'s YouTube channel.

Frictions in the Cloud

This image, poking fun of the universal claims of cloud computing, is replicated in hundreds of places across the web. I don't know its original source.

In light of the recent failures of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service, Paul Ceruzzi has pointed out the very grounded reality of the cloud. It all comes down to real data centers in real physical locations that can suffer from real failures.

N-Grams and the History of Computing, Part 2

Leave it to Beaver

I was fiddling around some more with n-grams, and I came across a surprising result. So surprising, in fact, that I am deeply suspicious of it. As you can see from the graph, I searched for "radio," "television," "computer" from 1920 to 2000. The oddity is the powerful surge of "computer" in the 1950s and 60s. If n-grams are supposed to be a tool for the quantitative study of culture, surely there is something badly off here.

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