SIGCIS 2011 Workshop

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.
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!

4) Richard S. Tedlow has pledged $1,000 to support two graduate student travel awards in the name of the Computer History Museum.
5) SHOT has now opened registration for the meeting, details at
6) The IT History Society has committed $200 toward graduate student travel costs.
7) UW Milwaukee School of Information Studies has committed $500 for a graduate student travel award.



Salon B (includes both plenaries)

Salon C


Opening Plenary:

  • "Designing and Using Cyberinfrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities for History"
    Keynote Address by Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota SLIDES FROM THE TALK


 Coffee Break and Presentation of the Computer History Museum Award


Dissertations in Progress: Questions of Identity and Embodiment in Computing Communities
Moderator: Marie Hicks, Illinois Institute of Technology

  • "Disability Online: Policies, Practices, and Representations of the Embodied Use of New Media," Elizabeth Ellcessor, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • "Careers and Achievements of the First Women Computer Scientists, 1960-1980," Irina Nikiforova, Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • "Dispatches from the Underground:  Gendered Labour and Communications Technology in the remaking of London, 1870-1916," Katie Hindmarch-Watson, Johns Hopkins University.

(Short presentations of around 5 minutes each to introduce precirculated dissertation proposals, to be discussed by workshop participants)

Paper Panel 1: Creating Culture through Materials and Methods
Chair: Suzanne Fischer, The Henry Ford
Commentator: Alex Bochannek, Computer History Museum

  • "Preserving the Material Culture of Computing Communities," Peggy Kidwell, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • "Macromodules, Miniaturization, and the CPU's Brief Removal from the Black Box," Joseph November, University of South Carolina
  • "Before the Web, there was the NABU Network," Zbigniew Stachniak, York University, Toronto

(Three 20-minute presentations followed by a 10-15 minute comment and general discussion)


Lunch break (Options TBA)


Works in Progress: Why does the Study of How Communities are Formed Matter to the History of Computing?
Moderator: Andrew Russell, Stevens Institute of Technology

  • "Murray Turoff and the Birth of Computer Mediated Comunications," Ramesh Subramanian, Quinnipiac University.
  • "The Learning Region Restructured," Janet Toland and Pak Yoong, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • "From Universal Project to Sunken Culture: Algol in France," Pierre Mounier-Kuhn, CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne.

(Short presentations of around 5 minutes each  to introduce precirculated papers, to be discussed by workshop participants)

Paper Panel 2: Insider and Outsider Communities in the History of Computing
Chair: Rebecca Slayton, Stanford University
Commentator: Kevin Walsh, UC San Diego

  • "Big Red, White, and Blue: Communities of Policy and Computing in Mainframe-era Washington, DC," Andrew Meade McGee, University of Virgina
  • "Computing, Video, and Radical Software," Peter Sachs Collopy, University of Pennsylvania
  • "Punched Card Table Libraries as a Communal Resource," Allan Olley, University of Toronto

(Three 20-minute presentations followed by a 10-15 minute comment and general discussion)


 Afternoon Coffee Break


Closing Plenary: Cultures & Communities in the History of Computing
Moderator: Tom Misa, Charles Babbage Institute

  • Alex Bochannek, Computer History Museum
  • Eden Medina, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Nathan Ensmenger, University of Texas at Austin
  • Andrew Russell, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Jeff Yost, Charles Babbage Institute

(Short introductory statements from panelists of around 5 minutes each, to be followed by discussion between the panelists and audience of questions posed in advance by the panelists.)

Meet @ 6:15 For dinner at La Strada, see below for details and let Marie Hicks know should you want to join us.

Timing: The workshop will be held in Cleveland, OH from 9am to 5:30pm (with dinner to follow) on Sunday, November 6, 2011. (This is the final day of the annual SHOT meeting. SHOT has reserved that day for SIG events and therefore the symposium will not overlap scheduled sessions in the main program.) For details on the main SHOT meeting see

Registration and Payment: SHOT requires all workshop attendees to register for the main SHOT meeting (or, this year, for the HSS or 4S conferences as long as you are not presenting at our workshop). This can be done at SHOT does not offer online registration and will refuse scanned registration forms sent as email attachments. So you will need to mail or fax your registration. SHOT registration fees are quite reasonable. If you plan only to attend the SIGCIS workshop rather than the rest of SHOT you can request a one day registration at reduced cost,  but this option is not available via the standard registration form. Email to arrange the one day option ($70 cost, must be done by 21 October).

When you register, make sure to check the box for "Sunday Workshop on History of Computing" on page 4 of the registration form under "SIG Events."  SHOT will not collect an additional charge for the workshop from you. However, SHOT does take money from SIGCIS to cover costs such as the coffee breaks and projector setup. In lieu of a registration charge SIGCIS will be asking for cash donations from attendees. If costs are similar to last year this will be at the suggested level of $10 for graduate students and $20 for the gainfully employed.

Lunch: This year the lunch break has been extended to ensure plenty of time for informal discussion. We have identified three attractive & open nearby options for lunch. Groups will form and depart for each restaurant shortly after the end of the morning sessions.

  1. Sans Souci Restaurant at the Renaissance Hotel overlooking the public square at 24 Public Square Cleveland, OH 44113 (216.696.5600).
  2. Sixth City Diner at 1265 W. 9th St. (216-619-1600). Very new, no website yet, sounds good though. Foreign visitors may particularly enjoy this slice of American vernacular cuisine.
  3. Two restaurants inside the Marriott will be serving lunch: Jake's Lounge (American bar food) and David's (does brunch from 7am to 1pm on Sunday). So if you didn’t yet eat in our fine hotel restaurants this is your chance.

Dinner: Meet in the Marriott lobby by 6:15. We will walk together to La Strada at 2050 East 4th Street (, 216 861 3663). This well regarded “Mediterranean bistro inspired by Italian, Turkish, Moroccan, Spanish and Greek kitchens” features a $30 Prix Fix menu for restaurant week as well as vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. By SIGCIS tradition we usually split the bill evenly with graduate students & the unemployed paying 50% of the usual share.

Contact Marie Hicks (chair of the workshop program committee) at mhicks1 (at) with any questions you may have.