SIGCIS 2012 Workshop

SIGCIS Workshop 2012 Logo

Information Identities:
Historical Perspectives on Technological and Social Change

SIGCIS Workshop 2012, October 7, 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark

New! Pictures from this event now available.

The Society for the History of Technology's Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS – welcomes submissions for a one-day scholarly workshop to be held on Sunday, October 7, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  As in previous years, SIGCIS's annual workshop will be held at the end of the SHOT annual meeting on the day that SHOT has reserved for SIG events. The SIGCIS workshop therefore will not overlap with scheduled sessions in the main SHOT program, the details of which are available from

Questions about the 2012 SIGCIS workshop should be addressed to Andrew Russell (College of Arts & Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology), who is serving as chair of the workshop program committee. Email

Registration: Registration for the workshop should be made through the registration procedure for the main SHOT meeting at There is no separate charge for the SIGCIS workshop (and this year SHOT has found money from registration fees to cover the first coffee break). The deadline for SHOT registration is September 1, after which a late fee will apply. When you register be sure to check the box for "Sunday Workshop on History of Computing" -- that's the SIGCIS workshop. We've been told that there is a special $70 one day registration option for those not attending the full conference -- contact if you are interested in this option.

Workshop Meals: Lunch will be available for purchase at the Solbjerg Plads cafeteria. Please bring cash for payment. An optional group dinner will take place shortly after the workshop in a nearby restaurant -- see the schedule below for details.

Precirculation of Materials: Some of the workshop sessions follow the traditional format for SHOT and other history conferences, with a commentator but no publication or precirculation of materials. However the conference features two round table sessions devoted to discussion of precirculated items (syllabi and papers), a works in progress session, and a dissertations in progress session. Full text for the items to be discussed in these sessions will be available from this site by September 15th. Please make an effort to read these papers prior to attending the sessions as their authors will be making only very short presentations to highlight key points and frame questions for discussion.

Schedule: All sessions will occur in Solbjerg Plads, the main building at the Copenhagen Business School.


Room A (TBA)

Room B (TBA)


Keynote Plenary Session

  • Opening Remarks from SIGCIS
  • Introduction of our keynote speaker by Gustav Sjoblom
  • Keynote: Per Lundin, Understanding the Computerization of Small States: Users and Uses of Computing Technology in Cold War Sweden


 Coffee Break and the Computer History Museum Prize Presentation


Parallel Sessions I: Works in Progress
Session Leader: John Laprise

  • Ramesh Subramanian, "Starr Roxanne Hiltz: Pioneer Digital Sociologist"
  • Jordi Fornes, "Computing in Transition: the Origins of Barcelona's School of Informatics, 1976-1984"

  • Lily Nguyen, "The Social World of Copying: Entrepreneurialism in Genealogical Networks"

(Short presentations, approx 5 minutes each, to introduce pre circulated papers, to be discussed in turn by workshop participants)

Traditional Papers I: Identities of Science
Session Chair: Irina Nikiforova

  • Alexandre Hocquet, "RTFM! Computational Chemists and Software Distribution"
  • Jason Gallo, "Information Overload: The National Science Foundation's Support for Information Science during the Cold War (1950-70)"
  • Ulf Hashagan, "Computers for Science: Scientific Computing and Computer Science in the German Scientific System, 1870-1970"

Session Comment: Helena Durnova

(3x20 minute presentations followed by a 10-15 minute comment and general discussion)




Parallel Session II: Dissertation Session
Session Leader: Bernard Geoghegan

  • Sally Deffor, "A Critical
    Evaluation of the Impact of the Digital Platform on the role of News
    Storytelling - case study of the BBC and the SABC"
  • Giuditta Parolini, "The Computerisation of the Rothamsted Statistics Department"
  • Rebecca Perry, "Digital 3D Modeling and the Seduction of the Real Session"

(Short presentations, approx 5 minutes each, to introduce pre circulated dissertation proposals, to be discussed in turn by workshop participants)

Traditional Papers II: Information Societies
Session Chair: Marie Hicks

  • Gustav Sjoblom, "The Soundtrack of Early Computing: Sound and Human-Computer Interaction in Sweden in the Early Mainframe Age"
  • Ian Martin, "Power, Prestige and Wealth: Social Stratification in Data-Processing Work"
  • Petri Paju, "Multinational Corporation and National Interests in IBM Sweden: Mutually Beneficial Partnership but also Tensions"

Session Comment: Peter Meyer

(3x20 minute presentations followed by a 10-15 minute comment and general discussion)


 Coffee Break


Parallel Session III: Three ICT Innovations that transformed Danish Society – The Nordic Way
Session Organizer: Jørgen Albretsen
Session Chair: Christian Gram
Panel Chair: Magnus Kolsjö

  • Henning Jensen, "Dankort – a National Debit Card System established in Denmark in the Early 1980s"
  • Søren Duus Østergaard, "The Danish Tax System and the 'No Touch' Strategy"
  • Stig Kjær Andersen, "The Danish Electronic Health Record (EHR) – from Visions to Reality – a Nearly Two Decades Long Journey under Changing Conditions"

Session Comment: Christian Gram

(3x15 minute presentations followed by a 40 minute panel discussion)

Traditional Papers III: History of Network(s)
Session Chair: Petri Paju

  • Andrew Russell, "Histories of Networking vs. The History of the Internet"
  • Mariann Unterluggauer, "Project NetAffair - Europe has a Story to Tell"
  • Valerie Schafer and Romain Badouard, "Appropriating, Governing and using the Internet in Europe (1970s-2000s)"

Session Comment: Alex Bochannek

(3x20 minute presentations followed by a 10-15 minute comment and general discussion)

6:00 - 8:30 Group dinner at Ristorante Da Claudio, Godthabsvej 42, Frederiksberg 2000. We will meet at the restaurant at 6pm -- it is around 10 minutes walk from the meeting venue. Please email Andrew Russel ( as soon as possible if you would like to take part. Pay in cash at the restaurant. Cost should be arond 300 DKK (approx 50 USD) per person  including wine. Options will be available for those with special dietary needs. We will attempt to subsidize the cost somewhat for graduate students. Restaurant details at



Workshop Theme

SIGCIS invites proposals that examine the relationships between computer and information technologies and changes to individual and/or group identities, such as those shared by a nation, company personnel, or members of a virtual community. Such papers might consider:

* Specific "information identities"—a term that we invite scholars to interpret broadly and creatively—that have been articulated in the recent or distant past

* Relationships between information technologies and political change

* The rhetoric and discourses of globalization that have been linked to information and computer technologies

* National identity and its relation to information technology

* National and transnational strategies for joining or creating an "information society," a "network society," an "information economy," or related concepts

* Transnational and international organizations, such as IFIP, UNESCO, the European Union, or standard-setting committees.

* Ways in which particular information technologies acquired new meanings and fulfilled new roles through interaction with local practices and identities

* The emergence of new kinds of community and identity around information technologies.

SIGCIS encourages submissions along these and similar lines of inquiry, but it also maintains a proud tradition of welcoming all types of contributions related to the history of computing and information, whether or not there is an explicit connection with the annual theme.  Our membership is international and interdisciplinary, and our members examine the history of information technologies and their place within society.  Our members approach the subject from a variety of scholarly perspectives including the history of technology, business history, labor history, social history, the history of science, science studies, communications, gender and sexuality studies, computing, disability studies, and museum studies.

Suggested Formats for Submissions:

Proposals for entire sessions and individual presenters are both welcome. We hope to run special sessions featuring dissertations in progress and other works in progress. The workshop is a great opportunity to get helpful feedback on your projects in a relaxed and supportive environment. All proposals will be subject to a peer review process based on abstracts.

Individual contributions can fit one of a variety of formats:

1. Traditional 15 to 20-minute presentations followed by a question and answer session. In this case, a one-page abstract (maximum 400 words) will be reviewed and included in the electronic conference program. Abstracts should address the paper's topic, argument, evidence used, and contribution to the existing literature. A full version of the paper should be sent to the session commentator at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting. We welcome proposals for entire sessions (3-4 papers that elucidate a common theme) or for individual presentations.

2. Dissertation proposals. We intend to continue SIGCIS's tradition of hosting special sessions that feature dissertations in progress so that scholars can receive critical feedback in a relaxed and supportive environment. Interested students should submit a dissertation proposal (for projects in the early stages) or draft dissertation chapter together with table of contents of the whole dissertation (for those nearing completion), which will be pre-circulated in the electronic conference program if accepted. Participants will be encouraged to read this prior to the session. You will have five to ten minutes to introduce the material, leaving the bulk of time available for discussion.

3. Works in progress. This is your chance to receive informal and expert discussion of draft dissertation chapters, journal articles, or book chapters. Submit a one page abstract (maximum 400 words) including discussion of the current state of the work and any specific kinds of feedback you are seeking. If your proposal is accepted you will need to supply the draft for discussion by 1 September for inclusion in the electronic program for the workshop. You will have five to ten minutes to introduce the material, leaving the bulk of time available for discussion.

4. Proposals in other formats are also welcome, such as round table discussions, "works in progress" proposals for early-stage research projects, demonstrations of software of interest to historians of computing and information, or "author meets critics" sessions.

SIGCIS follows traditional practices for the submission of papers for professional historical conferences, specifically: selection based on abstracts rather than full papers; no pre-circulation or publication of full papers (with the exception of dissertation proposals as noted above); and the requirement that presenters share their full paper with the session commentator at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting.  Presenters are encouraged to submit their work the SIGCIS Member Contributions collection.

Submission Procedure

All submissions should be made online via the SIGCIS website. People already scheduled to participate on the main SHOT program are welcome to submit an additional proposal to the SIGCIS workshop, but should make sure that there is no overlap between the two presentations. However program committee may choose to give higher priority to submissions from those not already presenting at SHOT. The same person should not be included as a panelist or speaker in more than one proposal to the SIGCIS Workshop, though it is OK to appear both as a speaker/panelist in one session and a chair or discussant in another.

Individual submissions should be made at Note that this requires a one page curriculum vitae as well as the proposal itself in the form described above.

Proposals for complete sessions should be made at

They should include:

- a description of the session that explains how individual papers contribute to an overall theme)
- the names and email addresses of each presenter)
- an abstract and title for each presentation (in the form described above)
- a one-page c.v. for each presenter and other participant (including commentator or chair if named)

Deadline for submissions: June 15, 2012

Travel Support

The top financial priority of SIGCIS is the support of travel expenses for graduate students, visiting faculty without institutional travel support, and others who would be unable to attend the meeting without travel assistance. The submission page includes a box to check if you fall into one of these categories and would like to be considered for an award. These is no separate application form, though depending on the volume of requests and available resources we may need to contact you for further information before making a decision. Details on our travel grant program are at

Funding sources include donations from SIGCIS members at our annual meeting,income from the Mahoney Fund and support fromMIT Press for our annual book auction. Please note that SHOT does not classify SIGCIS presentations as participation in the SHOT annual meeting and so acceptance by SIGCIS does not imply eligibility for the SHOT travel grant program.

For information on previous SIGCIS workshops in 2009, 2010, and 2011, please visit the "Activities and Events" section of the SIGCIS website at