SIGCIS 2015 Workshop

SIGCIS Workshop 2015: Infrastructures
Sunday, October 11, 2015 
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Keynote Speaker:
Nathan Ensmenger (Indiana University)
"The Materiality of the Virtual: An Environmental History of Computing"
The Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS) will host our annual one-day scholarly workshop  on Sunday, October 11, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is immediately after the end of the regular annual meeting of our parent organization, the Society for the History of Technology, details of which are available from
Questions about the SIGCIS 2015 workshop should be addressed to Andrew Russell (Stevens Institute of Technology), who is serving as chair of the workshop organizing committee (e-mail:
Workshop Theme: Infrastructures
Across academic, artistic, and popular domains, curiosity and concern over the information and computing infrastructures that sustain economic, cultural, and social interaction has never been more salient.  In contrast to the hype generated by the gadgetry of innovation prophets and venture capitalists, an emphasis on infrastructure highlights networks of labor and focuses on the human, material, and ecological cost and scale of information and computing technologies.  

Mahoney Prize

The Mahoney Prize recognizes an outstanding article in the history of computing and information technology, broadly conceived. The Mahoney Prize commemorates the late Princeton scholar Michael S. Mahoney, whose profound contributions to the history of computing came from his many articles and book chapters. The prize consists of a $500 award and a certificate. For the 2018 prize, articles published in the preceding three years (2015, 2016, and 2017) are eligible for nomination. The Mahoney Prize is awarded by the Special Interest Group in Computers, Information, and Society (SIGCIS) and is presented during the annual meeting of our parent group, the Society for the History of Technology.

The deadline for submission for the 2018 Mahoney Prize is April 15, 2018. To nominate an article, send an electronic copy to all three committee members using the email address below. All questions should be directed to the 2018 Mahoney Prize Committee Chair, Dr. Melanie Swalwell.

Computer History Museum Prize

The Computer History Museum Prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding book in the history of computing broadly conceived, published during the prior three years. The prize of $1,000 is awarded by SIGCIS, the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS is part of the Society for the History of Technology. 

In 2012 the prize was endowed in perpetuity through a generous bequest from the estate of Paul Baran, a legendary computer innovator and entrepreneur best known for his work to develop and promote the packet switching approach on which modern networks are built. Baran was a longtime supporter of work on the history of information technology and named the prize to celebrate the contributions of the Computer History Museum to that field. 

2018 Call for Submission

Books published in 2015-2017 are eligible for the 2018 award. Books in translation are eligible for three years following the date of their publication in English. Publishers, authors, and other interested members of the computer history community are invited to nominate books. Please note that books nominated in previous years may be nominated again, provided they have been published in the timeframes specified above. Send one copy of the nominated title to each of the committee members listed below, with a postmark no later than April 15, 2018. For more information, please contact Andrew Russell, SIGCIS Chair. Current information about the prize, including the most recent call and a list of previous winners, always may be found at

2014 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Janet Abbate, Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (MIT Press, 2012)

Prize Citation: Gender is an important but under-examined dimension of computing. Janet Abbate’s book, Recoding Gender, unveils the gendered conceptions that shaped past and current assumptions of what specific work practices, personalities, and talents are essential to the field. Early studies of gender in computing focused on particularly prominent women (such as Grace Murray Hopper), or women’s contributions to famous projects (such as ENIAC). Recoding Gender instead uses women’s day-to-day experiences to reveal the obstacles encountered and the strategies developed by women who carved out professional careers as corporate programmers, software entrepreneurs, or academic computer scientists. Based on extensive oral histories, all made available online by the author, Abbate's book provides new material for the historical study of women in computing, offering at the same time new ground for current debates on women's under-represented position within computing. We expect it to enjoy a wide readership and to inspire further research.

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.


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