Travel Awards for SIGCIS Meetings

SIGCIS offers an integrated program of travel awards to broaden the base of participants in its annual workshops. Maximizing our support here is the top financial priority for the SIG, and a highly cost effective investment in the future of our field.

SIGCIS Travel Award Programs

Our awards are named in recognition of their various sponsors, but the eligibility criteria and application process is the same for all of them.

We have three ongoing awards programs:

Another Great Online Resource

CP Car on the Great Dome

Apologies for my recent radio silence, and thanks to Marie for picking up the slack.  I still don't have anything terribly profound to say, but I wanted to point out a wonderful on-line historical resource that went up a couple of months ago: MIT's 150th anniversary interviews, dubbed Infinite History. The dozens of interviews at the site, with important figures in MIT's academic history,  include both a video and a synchronized transcript.   Interviews in the collection relevant to the history of computing include Leo

Steve Jobs, whose vision domesticated the computer, is dead at 56

Steve Jobs (Photo credits: Apple Inc., original photo by Albert Watson)

In a sad but expected follow-up to Chris's post from a little over a month ago, this entry marks the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who has died at the age of 56.

Babbage's Notes to be Digitized in Order to Build Working Analytical Engine

Close up of analytical engine model

Recently, the BBC reported that the London Science Museum plans to add to its collection in the history of computing by digitizing Charles Babbage's huge store of design notes on the Analytical Engine. Though the 19th c. Analytical Engine is often pointed to as a machine that presaged the modern computer, a working version was never fully built in Babbage's lifetime (although the notes on the potential machine resulted in the first computer program, written by Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace). And historians have not been the only ones fascinated with this machine--alternate histories in which the Analytical Engine was successfully built form the bedrock of a significant amount of science fiction, particularly in the steampunk subgenre.

Computer (Art) World

Ben Fino-Radin, “Personal Computer,” or a fibrous reinterpretation of the Macintosh 128k. Plastic canvas and yarn, 2007
Cody Trepte, Binary cross-stitch of “Can technology be understood outside of itself?” Fabric, 2006

Those of you in or around NYC might be interested in the exhibit series called the Silent Series at the New Museum, which aims to present interactions between contemporary art and technology.

The End of the Jobs Era

Steve Jobs

The Internet has been inundated with stories about Steve Jobs' resignation as CEO of Apple.

SIGCIS 2011 Workshop

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SIGCIS Workshop 2011 Logo

SIGCIS Workshop 2011: Cultures and Communities in the History of Computing
November 6, 2011. Marriot Cleveland Hotel

Latest Updates:

0) The workshop is over, but you can see pictures of all the fun. Also of the less fun parts -- we don't discriminate.
1) The program is now complete. Work-in-progress and dissertation-in-progress session papers are now available to read right here! Or, click on each paper title on the program and then look for the "DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THIS PAPER" link above the abstract.
2) Thomas J. Misa, director of the Charles Babbage Institute, is our keynote speaker this year. His opening keynote will be on "Designing and Using Cyberinfrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities for History." See the slides from his talk.
3) There will also be an all star closing plenary session devoted to the the workshop theme, aimed at discussing where the field has been and where it is going--be sure to stay for that!

Computerized Education: Déjà Vu?

Image from Parts of a cell, Khan Academy lesson

A recent Wired article on Khan Academy gave me a distinct sense of déjà vu.  A pre-programmed set of lessons that are written once, and then can be used by kids anywhere in the country?  They allow students to proceed at their own pace, simulating the advantages of one-on-one tutorial instruction?  They ensure that a student have mastered a given concept before allowing him or her to move on to more advanced material?  Data on student performance is automatically collected for analysis by educators?  A claim that all of this is totally new and is going to revolutionize the staid old American education system?  Where have I heard this all before...

Historical Computer Science

Java Logo

Like any well-trained Ph.D. student, I have come to see my own discipline as the master discipline, upon which all other forms of knowledge are based. For instance, I have repeatedly pestered my fianceé, who works in math education, with the idea of teaching mathematics historically. What better way (I enthuse) to teach, say, imaginary numbers than to understand why they were invented in the first place; the historical context that led to their emergence.Still convinced (perhaps quite foolishly) that this is a brilliant idea, I have begun to think recently about how the same concept might apply in computing--how, that is, the history of computing might be used to teach computer science.

Summer reading for historians of computing -- suggestions needed.

Please consider helping the community sharpen its engagement with new ideas. Back in graduate school I read feverishly in labor history, business history, history of technology social history, organizational sociology, etc in preparation for my oral examinations. My classes covered still more eclectic topics, ranging from a "greatest hits" of literary theory to nonparametric methods. Over the ten years since I physically left Penn I've been focused on an ever more specialized set of literatures, primarily the burgeoning history of computing field, which I know in ever more depth. In general I've also been doing more writing and less reading.


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